Non-profit resumes in-person programs vital to supporting NYC's Chinatown

Janice Yu Image
Wednesday, September 28, 2022
Chinatown non-profit resumes vital in-person programs
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Hamilton-Madison House, a non-profit settlement house, resumed its in-person programs which offer vital support to Manhattan's Chinatown community. Janice Yu has the story.

CHINATOWN, Manhattan (WABC) -- Hamilton-Madison House, a non-profit settlement house, has resumed its in-person programs which offer vital support to Manhattan's Chinatown community.

Like many other organizations, Hamilton-Madison House put a pause on its in-person offerings during the coronavirus pandemic.

Despite not being able to be physically with the community it supports, the organization continued its work of fostering the well-being of vulnerable populations including the elderly, children, the ill and handicapped, new immigrants and refugees and the unemployed.

The organization was created back in 1898 as part of the settlement house movement which offered support to immigrants, but, much like the Chinatown/Two Bridges community, it's mission has evolved to offer services to people of all ages and backgrounds.

"A settlement house's function was to be that gateway, to be that receptacle to receive new immigrants to the community," said Jan Lee, a Chinatown resident and board member.

For many, the nonprofit has become a place where they feel a sense of community.

So when the pandemic hit, the members feared losing something that had become engrained in their day-to-day lives, but the center remained a lifeline.

"Even when there was a pause in person services, I appreciated the staff calling, doing wellness calls, checking in to see how we were doing," said member and volunteer Susan Chan. "This part is very important to me because during the last two years, during the pandemic, a lot of seniors struggled with loneliness, isolation, and health conditions."

And for some, like Jorge Medina, the center is now a way for him to keep a piece of his family close.

"My mom started coming to theHamiltonHouse center for all kinds of different activities, so she brought the family over, me and my sister," Medina said.

Medina says the center was a integral part of his mother Aida's life from 1978 until she died in August. He says it was her death that brought him back to the center -- not only as a member but as a volunteer to help in a place that meant so much.

"Not only to see a familiar place but to imagine she was standing here, she was sitting here, she was walking here," he said.

A big part of the what the center does is offer mental health resources -- something is often difficult to talk about in APPI culture.

But it is even more crucial now after the pandemic and the recent prevalence of crimes against members of the APPI community.

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