City Mission: finding a home in .NYC
What does your local community’s well-being resemble? Do you know your neighbors? Are there missing services for the vulnerable nearby? What’s your next step? In the Elmhurst neighborhood of Queens, New York, passionate and dedicated individuals refused to remain passive observers of the surrounding challenges.
Facing a new world
Many arrive in the United States hoping for a brighter future for themselves and their loved ones. Yet, numerous hardships await. Youngsters are navigating their way, often confronting adversity. There are so many needs, so many corners. So, where does one channel their efforts? City Mission, the distinguished Best of Boroughs winner for Queens in 2018, believes in confronting these challenges directly.
City Mission, found at citymission.nyc, emerged in 2014 to address the varied necessities of the Elmhurst community in Queens. Their mission involves rallying
“a network of residents to offer youth development initiatives, services for the homeless, and outreach for immigrants to support the most vulnerable in our community.”
In conversation with City Mission’s President, Lester Lin, the depth of their impact and the positivity they’ve ushered into the borough became evident. Lester’s commitment to the cause and the community is palpable: “I wanted to spotlight the newer immigrants and emphasize the need for compassion, understanding, and assistance at local homeless shelters. We aim to raise awareness about these issues, understand their origins, and highlight the importance of nurturing leadership qualities in our youth, who are pivotal for sustainable change,” Lester explained.
The spark behind City Mission
Lester’s own experiences have provided invaluable insights into Queens residents’ challenges. Born in Elmhurst to Taiwanese parents, he spent his early years in a community vastly different from today’s, marked by violence and illicit activities. Although fraught with danger, the area’s affordability made it a refuge for immigrants, single mothers, and those grappling with poverty. After a period in Long Island, Lester was drawn back to Elmhurst, captivated by its genuine residents and rich diversity.
On his return, he found a community torn apart by polarizing views. A local homeless shelter accommodating people from varied backgrounds faced stiff opposition, shockingly, from the immigrant community. Having witnessed the struggles of starting anew in a foreign land, Lester was dismayed by this irony. As he says,
“The sheer number of immigrants in Queens, including thriving business owners and young individuals, indicates the challenges many face. Observing residents protesting against families in dire situations, including those fleeing domestic violence, was gut-wrenching. I felt compelled to intervene.”
City Mission’s initiatives go beyond just shelter provisions. They assist with filing taxes, completing immigration paperwork, and organizing resume-building workshops.
Their youth-centric program, conceptualized by director William Loh and dubbed ‘Get Your Life Together’, arms young individuals with fundamental job skills. Some of these young participants were among the first to support Lester’s efforts at the shelters, a testament to community spirit.
Facing challenges head-on
Gaining acceptance for the homeless shelter was a significant hurdle. Yet, City Mission persisted, highlighting the pressing needs of this community and urging residents to empathize. The youth played a pivotal role, bridging the divide and fostering connections, spreading tales of their compassion throughout Queens.
Navigating the intricacies of immigration services posed further challenges, predominantly due to prevailing mistrust and fears of deportation. But as Lester points out, “We’re here to assist. Trust is built over time, and we hope families recognize our genuine intent.”
Why Queens and why .NYC?
Lester’s affection for Queens stems from its blend of tradition and modernity and the resilience of its residents. City Mission’s dedication to the borough is evident in its every endeavor.
Their choice of the .nyc domain for their website emphasizes their locality. As Lester puts it, the domain is “modern, relevant, and unequivocal.” Further elaborating,
“The .nyc domain instantly conveys our presence in New York. It’s a beacon of our accessibility. Even if calls come in at odd hours, I’m here to help, and our domain underscores our locality.”
To delve deeper into City Mission’s commendable journey and to lend a hand, visit their website. For volunteering opportunities or other collaborations in New York, Lester Lin is just a message away.
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