In 1984, a group of Hispanic residents of Rockville Centre got together to form the Hispanic Brotherhood of Rockville Centre. The organization has grown since then, but it continues to support the Hispanic community of Rockville Centre with outright zeal. Under the direction of Executive Director Margarita Grasing, the Brotherhood upholds its mission of service and empowerment. As the pandemic continues to ravage minority populations, the Hispanic Brotherhood of Rockville Centre offers specialized aid to the community it services.
Under normal circumstances, the Hispanic Brotherhood of Rockville Centre offers an after-school childcare and tutoring program, employment counseling, immigration and legal assistance, citizenship counseling, translation services, and emergency food, etc. Grasing said it was important to her that the Brotherhood continued to provide people with the appropriate aid.
“We deliver hot meals to seniors who aren’t able to cook for themselves. We also regularly supply them with canned goods that people have donated,” Grasing said. “We alerted everyone [in our roster] who lost their job to recertify section eight. We are also providing food every week to parents who have lost their jobs.”
The Brotherhood’s robust childcare program has been a mainstay in the way it services the community. However, as a result of the pandemic and CDC regulations, only a certain number of children can be cared for at the same time to ensure proper social distancing. Even with that limitation, the Brotherhood does its best to continue the program and care for as many children as safely possible. A lot of the children in the childcare program would not have anywhere to go during the day because their parents are at work. So, the Hispanic Brotherhood is doing its best to offer these essential services.
The organization is also conducting various food drives, so it can continue providing people with the provisions they need to survive these difficult times. Both the nonprofit education, income, and health organization United Way of Long Island and the Nassau County Office for the Aging have been present at the Hispanic Brotherhood’s food drives. According to the Office for Aging, the Brotherhood provided 30 seniors with groceries in a single day. At these food drives, volunteers help seniors collect and bag the goods they would like to bring home.
Hispanic Brotherhood is partnering with United Way of Long Island and its Safe at Home program, which helps older adults who are sheltering in place and lack resources. As part of the program seniors receive safety kits that include PPE items such as face masks, sanitizer and digital thermometers, as well as resource information cards.
“Many people don’t see it, but there are people who are struggling, especially because of Covid-19. There are people that are unemployed who aren’t receiving certain income within their own households to support themselves. So, I do think that it’s necessary for people to help,” said Justin Ciofiallo, a frequent helper at these drives. He started volunteering at the Hispanic Brotherhood when he was a senior in high school, and now he’s become a permanent member of the team.
Although the Brotherhood receives a lot of support from donations, it is still a nonprofit organization. Its resources come from grants that are then used to give back to the community. A lot of the time, these organizations rely entirely on these grants. If the state refuses to release grant money to the organization, it could be in real trouble. That’s what’s been happening to the Hispanic Brotherhood lately.
“The state is not releasing much money from our grants, so we’re trying to survive,” said Grasing.
Even in the midst of her worry, Grasing remains optimistic. She does not believe the Hispanic Brotherhood of Rockville Centre is going anywhere.
“We will be here. Yeah, I’m confident that when you do good work and the Lord’s work, it does help,” she said. “I don’t fear the future. I fear the present. We gotta survive, that’s the main thing.”
To contact the Hispanic Brotherhood of Rockville Centre with any inquiries, call (516) 766-6610. Also, follow them on their social media pages for updates on food drives and other programs.