Founded in 1997, MWIRD is a faith-based, community service organization, committed to working in the areas of hunger relief, health education, inter-faith work, and the transitional needs of new immigrants. We are located in a community where the ethnic composition is now approximately 59 percent Hispanic, 37 percent African-American, 3 percent Asian-American, 1 percent Other, and where approximately 46 percent of the families with children under eighteen live below the poverty level. To provide effective services, we work collaboratively with city, borough, and state agencies, as well as nonprofit and grassroots organizations. As a result of our efforts, MWIRD is a resource for many communities in the Bronx seeking assistance in various areas of life.
The organization initially began by establishing and operating a food pantry at the Islamic Sunna wal Jam’ah (Mount Hope Mosque) in the Bronx, distributing halal food to a needy population of immigrants, primarily West African, most of whom are Muslims. Interactions with the pantry’s clientele, which consists primarily of women and children, led to awareness on the part of the pantry’s founder of their transitional needs. This understanding was the catalyst for establishing an organization that provides services to low-income families in the Bronx. Because of later demographic shifts, the populations MWIRD now serves include Hispanics, African-Americans, and Asians. Our collaborative partners for the pantry are the African Islamic Center, America’s Second Harvest, City Harvest, the Food Bank for New York City, New York Women's Foundation, New York Community Trust, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene-Office of Minority Health and the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies.
Our clients who visit the food pantry are documented through a sign-in system that collects information including the client's name, family size, and number of adults, children and seniors in the household. We serve an average of 2,500 individuals every month at our food pantry. This data is collected by our volunteers at the pantry, and our youth interns who participate in our Spring/Summer Youth Service-Learning Internship Program made possible through our partnership with Young Citizens Center, a program of Citizens for New York City, and Manhattan Bridges High School.
In keeping with our mission, MWIRD was selected in 2005 as a community-based organization to host five interns who are juniors from Manhattan Bridges High School, as part of our mission to meet the transitional needs of new immigrants. This program integrates high school students - all recent immigrants to the United States - within the community, while developing their academic and career skills. As participants in community activities and outreach programs, the interns gain knowledge of problematic social issues; and as a result, they become committed to social change through direct service. Overall, our multi-faceted youth program succeeds in offering a wide range of experiences and community service opportunities. Our youth team is able to organize and lead community service projects while acquiring practical leadership, organizing training, college guidance, service learning, and skill sets that strengthen their academic and career prospects.
Our staff, volunteers, and youth interns also participate in MWIRD’s health education program which is centered around the Immigrant Women’s Health Project, Public Benefits Outreach, the New York City Department of Health Free Male/Female Condom Initiative, the New York City Department of Health Smoke-Free Campaign, Health Fairs, and HIV/AIDS education, outreach, and testing . This area of our work serves an average of 65 clients per month in our community. The health fairs that we have hosted are conducted in partnership with other community service organizations, local hospitals and faith communities. The services offered at the health fairs include free mammograms with referrals for cervical cancer screenings, food stamp screenings, high blood pressure testing, access to free health insurance, dental screenings, food pantry items, and HIV/AIDS testing. We especially explore, from a faith perspective, avenues for mobilizing the potential of each individual in our community to strengthen interfaith efforts aimed at stemming the advancing tide of HIV/AIDS.
Through our interfaith work our goal is to traverse the complex ethical and moral waters that rise out of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. To this end we participate and sit on the planning committees of various inter-faith conferences and dialogues around poverty, women, and HIV/AIDS. As a community organization we continually seek ways to work with different communities in the fight against poverty, the adverse impact of disease, and a lack of access to resources.