November 13, 2015

UNHP Executive Director Jim Buckley Honored at NWBCCC “Forty y Fuerte” Gala


On Friday, October 30th 2015, UNHP Executive Director Jim Buckley, along with Council Member Ritchie Torres, Fernando Carlo, & Joyce Davis, was honored at the Northwest Bronx Community & Clergy Coalition’s “Forty y Fuerte” 40th Anniversary Gala held at Fordham University’s McGinley Center Ballroom.
Founded in 1974, the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition (NWBCCC) is a grassroots social justice organization that organizes residents to fight for long-term solutions to the problems in the community. The Coalition unites the Northwest Bronx communities and a youth organization, Sistas and Brothas United (SBU), in an effort to influence the most important decisions that are made about northwest Bronx neighborhoods; delivery of government services, private investment patterns, and major land use considerations.

NWBCCC Executive Director Sandra Lobo was happy to “honor our history as we commit ourselves to racial justice and economic democracy through intergenerational organizing. Our 40th anniversary comes at a time of renewed organizational stability and growth.”

Jim was honored for his work with the NWBCCC and his lifelong commitment to the Northwest Bronx. Jim was a student at Fordham University when he saw first hand some of the work of the newly formed NWBCCC.  He was inspired by the tenacity of neighborhood leaders who interrupted a class to “invite” a NYC official to meet with them. Jim joined the staff of NWBCCC as a tenant and community organizer, and served as the Director of the Reinvestment Project from 1984-1989. He is the current and founding Executive Director of University Neighborhood Housing Program, where he continues to fight to bring public and private investment into the Bronx.  Jim was introduced by UNHP board member and former community organizer for NWBCCC, Roger Hayes. Roger noted Jim’s continued “without fanfare” commitment to the Northwest Bronx, that has resulted in private and public investment, multifamily building renovations, the creation of new affordable housing, and services to the community.

Jim’s award features a photo from 1983 of Jim with fellow organizer, Sr. Pat Dillon, community leaders Astin Jacobo and Anne Devenney. The picture was taken in Albany with newly elected Assemblyman Jose Rivera.

Jim accepted the award and acknowledged the many others who have been a part of the work in the Northwest Bronx. “All of us who participate in this kind of work know that nothing gets done by one person. Everything with which I’ve been involved has been accomplished by a team of people and organizations working together. I am honored to accept this award as a representative of a dedicated group of people that has made an incredible difference in our neighborhoods.”

Jim’s friends, family and northwest Bronx co-workers join in the Forty y Fuerte fun.

“The Bronx was a very different place in the ‘70’s; the battle was whether the buildings and neighborhood would survive the practices and policies of the public and private sectors that were destroying the neighborhood. A major reason why the Bronx looks different is because of the work of the staff and leadership of the NW Bronx Coalition. No one knew how it was going to happen, but there was a deep rooted faith that people coming together to fight for their buildings and neighborhoods could and would make a difference. I met the most incredible people at the Coalition—tenant, community and religious leadership and staff who developed a plan of action and then went out and did it. Many of them became close friends who helped shape my life. One of those amazing people was another community organizer, who I met here as she was graduating Fordham. 29 years ago, Joanie and I got married on this campus and had our reception here. A few years later our son, Jack, joined us. They are my constant source of support, inspiration and love.”

Jack, Jim and Joanie

Jim concluded with “Forty years later, the problems have changed, many of the people have changed, and the strategies have changed, but the enthusiasm, the dedication and faith in neighborhood people’s ability to come together and make things happen is still here, as strong as ever.”