June 22, 2015

Un Buen Domingo for 250 Attending Immigration and Financial Services Fair


Bronx residents came out in large numbers to attend the Sunday, June 14th Immigration and Financial Services Resource Fair held in the Parish Center of Our Lady of Refuge (OLR). Many of the over 250 attendees were OLR parishioners, while others were from the surrounding neighborhoods of Bedford Park, Fordham, and Norwood. The event co-sponsored by Our Lady of Refuge ParishFordham Bedford Community Services, and University Neighborhood Housing Program, provided a range of on-the-spot assistance from 13 community groups, political representatives, banks and NYCity Agencies that included free credit reports, enrollment in ESL classes, immigration information, public benefits screening, voter registration, bank account information and services. Thank you to Dana Ullman for donating her time and professional photography services at the event.

A large crowd turned out for the Sunday, June 14th Immigration & Financial Services Fair held at OLR. Attendees had the opportunity to participate in two workshops, obtain on-the-spot services from participating groups, and sign up for free follow-up assistance.

In addition to the ability to get information and direct services from the groups in attendance, about 35 individuals attended two informative Spanish language workshops; an immigration workshop with updated information on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) was led by Catholic Charities and Anne Nacinovich and Isabel Heine from Bronx Legal Services and a money management workshop with an explanation of English language banking and financial terms led by Jumelia Abrahamson of UNHP and Guillermo Zepeda from OLR.

Representatives from Catholic Charities and Bronx Legal Services lead a workshop with information about citizenship and legalization updates, common immigration fraud schemes, and free legal services. A second workshop on money management and understanding financial terms was led by Jumelia Abrahamson of UNHP and Guillermo Zepeda of OLR.

In addition to organizing the event, UNHP, FBCS and OLR all took an active part in the Fair, providing services, participating in the workshops and offering translation assistance. UNHP provided access to free credit reports and consultations with a financial coach as well as information and appointments for services at the Northwest Bronx Resource Center at Refuge House; one-on-one financial coaching, benefits screening, healthcare access and group financial education workshops. Twenty-two Bronx residents obtained their free credit report at the Fair and a brief credit analysis. Fordham Bedford Community Services, in addition to a wide range of programming for children and students, also offers free ESL classes, citizenship test preparation and immigration services. OLR promoted the Fair at its Spanish language Masses, provided the newly renovated parish center for the Fair and arranged for the food preparation by OLR group, the Cursillistas.

The Resource Fair, organized by UNHP, was a successful community team effort. Clockwise (from left): OLR’s Guillermo Zepeda leads workshop attendees through English pronunciation of important financial terms, Liselle Perez of FBCS answers questions about upcoming ESL & Citizenship classes, Fernanda Campos of UNHP walks attendees through the credit report process, & UNHP staff take a break from registration, presentations and credit consultations to strike a pose.

Exit surveys and interviews provided positive feedback about the Fair. 30 attendees made idNYC appointments, 22 people obtained their credit reports, and others made follow-up appointments for financial coaching, benefits and healthcare screening, as well as legal services.

Luz Maria & Rafaela, both originally from the Dominican Republic & members of the OLR Parish, took advantage of signing up for an appointment with idNYC, Sonobria F., native of Guyana, took time to speak with Bronx Legal Services to understand her next steps towards full citizenship, Judith E., originally from Jamaica, was able to get access to free legal services in pursuit of legalization for her and her disabled adult son, Diane L. was able to obtain her first credit report and decided to apply for a secured credit card from Citi to build her credit.

Immigration and Financial Services Resource Fair Participating Groups and Day of Fair Available Services:
The Financial Clinic

Financial Coach Brian Bier provided on-site financial consultations and opportunities for follow-up appointments at the Northwest Bronx Resource Center. UNHP contracted with the Financial Clinic to bring the services of a financial coach to our community. Brian spends two days a week at the Northwest Bronx Resource Center.


Community Health Advocate, Annelise MacLeod provided on-site health benefits information and benefit screening (i.e. SNAP, HEAP, SCRIE, FEPS), as well as an opportunity for follow-up appointments with her or Marketplace Navigator, Sorange Jaquez, who offered healthcare enrollment and information on-site.


VaNessa LaNier, from UNHP, assists an attendee with a free credit report. Services from the Northwest Bronx Resource Center included credit report printing and analysis, 5 week Getting Ahead workshops, and appointments for financial coaching.


John Garcia, Executive Director of FBCS, welcomes Fair attendees with a schedule of events and a list of available services. FBCS offers a wide range of community services including English-as-a-Second-Language courses, citizenship classes and appointments for immigration assistance. Shyla Espejo, of Fordham Bedford Housing Corporation lends a hand at the Fair with information on voter registration and other community services.

Catholic Charities

A representative from Catholic Charities gives immigration updates during one of the two Fair workshops. Catholic Charities offers immigration consultations, opportunities for follow-up at Catholic Charities’ walk-in legal clinic, and immigration information updates for DACA and DAPA.

Bronx Legal Services

Isabel Heine and Anne Nacinovich of Bronx Legal Services offered on-site legal and immigration information, opportunities for follow-up legal services, information about the range of legal services available and eligibility requirements.


Mouhamed Kaba of idNYC offers on-site information about the many benefits of this free, government issued, photo identification card available to all New York City residents, and an opportunity to book an appointment for enrollment.This was one of the most popular tables at the event with over 60 visits and 30 booked appointments for enrollment.

Ruvi Lopez of NYC Pre-K For All provided information about free, full day, quality pre-kindergarten programs, offered to all New York City residents. Applications for the upcoming enrollment period were available at the June 14th Immigration & Financial Services Fair.

Senator Gustavo Rivera’s Office

Maryam Mohammed of Senator Gustavo Rivera’s office offered information on a wide range of constituent services offered by the Senator’s office including case management on a number of issues concerning housing, health, immigration, public assistance, education, and public safety.

Cidadao Global

Cidadao Global offers information for immigrant parents to help them navigate the college application process, and the opportunity to enroll in free ESL programs for all levels.


Xiomara Reyes from Citibank offered information on low-cost bank accounts, secured credit cards and other products. She was joined at the event by Citi’s Mark Angeli.

Wells Fargo

Emmanuel Martinez of Wells Fargo, provides information about low-cost checking accounts, the Wells Fargo Secured card and other products.