A Season of Gratitude and Giving

By: Sarabeth Weszely, Senior Writer
November 24, 2020

Though recent pandemic trends have brought more challenges and difficult decisions our way, this month has been full of gratefulness, generosity, and goodwill in our school – and we are confident there is more to come!

In addition to dedicating our social media channels to reflections on gratitude, we have been working to put together a meaningful support plan for our families and community members as we weather the second wave of COVID-19 and enter this strange holiday season. 

Last Saturday, we hosted a Thanksgiving Food Distribution in partnership with Assemblywoman Carmen De La Rosa, School in the Square, Gregory Maro, and the Bizzarro Agency team.

We were able to give 100 boxes full of holiday meal prep supplies and essential food items to Inwood Academy families in need.
Family members were also able to pick up school supplies donated by Staples (partnership established by 7th grade parent Regina Espinales) and winter clothing/essential supplies donated by World Vision, who has been a key partner in providing for our families since long before the pandemic began. Throughout this winter season, we will continue to provide families with support and resources in order to meet ongoing and outstanding needs.

Finally, but most importantly, we would like to connect you with a few valued Inwood Academy partners as you consider where to direct your own generosity this Giving Tuesday:

1. La Mina Restaurant

Small business owners are some of the people who have been most financially impacted by the pandemic in our neighborhood. Our school was founded upon the goal of cultivating leadership in young students, and we don’t ever want to miss an opportunity to champion good examples of leadership in our community (and, literally, our backyard!).  

Throughout this upcoming season, we will use our platform to support Inwood Academy family members who lead local businesses. The first IAL business owner we want to spotlight is Pedro Richiez from La Mina, a restaurant that is situated just two blocks from both of our school campuses. Pedro’s son has been enrolled in Inwood Academy since his 5th grade year, and we have catered countless school events with the delicious Dominican and Fusion food served at La Mina. 

Pedro gave us an update on how his leadership skills have been tested through this pandemic:

“It’s very hard, very hard. We are behind on bills, behind on rent, behind on Con Edison. We have had to lay off most of our employees, and those of us who have stayed work day and night. The hospitality industry in our community is having a really hard time. I don’t know how many businesses will last through this tragedy. But there are also positive things, like community organizing and unity, or the trust we’ve been able to put in our leaders, that have come through this crisis.” 

We encourage you to support Pedro and the Inwood hospitality industry by patronizing La Mina this month, either through socially distanced outdoor seating or ordering food to go. The restaurant is open daily from 6am -10pm, and IAL staff members will be given a 10% discount. 

If you are an Inwood Academy parent who also leads a small business, we invite you to reach out to Tatiana Mahoney at (646) 906-4111 or tatiana.mahoney@ialcs.org to help us learn about and support your work. 

Please stay tuned as we continue to promote local leaders, and start today by eating at La Mina!

2. Pathways Mentoring of Washington Heights and Inwood (WHI Pathways)

WHI Pathways is a long-time partner of Inwood Academy, and their work has been foundational to both our middle school and high school mentoring programs. 

About WHI Pathways:

Pathways Mentoring of Washington Heights and Inwood equips adult community leaders to mentor youth by building character, developing community leaders, and preparing them for the future. We are a one-to-one relationship-based mentoring program that currently has twenty-two mentor/mentee pairs involved in our program. All of our current mentees are from Inwood Academy and meet weekly with their mentors throughout the school year.

You can connect with WHI Pathways via email and learn more about them on their website, Instagram and Facebook pages. If you are able to donate this Giving Tuesday to support their work, please do so by giving online

3. The Open Door English Language Tutoring

We are excited to announce The Open Door as a new partner who will help us advance our shared goal of promoting literacy and confidence among English Language Learners young and old. 

About The Open Door:

The Open Door NJNY is a nonprofit dedicated to empowering marginalized immigrants of the Metropolitan area.
We offer five levels of ESL instruction, GED/TASC preparation and computer literacy to adult students. We also offer our students monthly conversation practice, where volunteers engage students in an hour of casual conversation in a small group setting. This is a tangible way to help our students improve their English skills, while also building the community element of our program, which students and volunteers refer to as familia.

We provide childcare for students with children, as well as supplemental workshops on topics such as legal counsel, financial literacy, medical advice, and more. As a result of the global pandemic, all programs have shifted to Zoom, and we have no longer been able to offer childcare. Because more than two thirds of our 300 students lost jobs as a result of mandated social distancing, we have given additional support to students in the form of Food Bazaar gift cards.

You can connect with Open Door via email or phone (973-780-3818) and learn more about them on their website. If you are able to donate this Giving Tuesday to support their work, please do so by giving online, texting the word OPENDOOR to 44321, or sending a check to PO Box 661 Fair Lawn, NJ 07410.

4. Inwood Academy for Leadership

As always, you can donate directly to our cause by giving online. During this season of outstanding need, we use a large portion of gifts we receive online to directly support students and families who have been negatively impacted by the pandemic.

Wishing you and yours a Thanksgiving full of gratitude and generosity, both given and received.

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