When Pleasantville resident Luisa Granda-Rodriguez began volunteering at Neighbors Link in Mount Kisco, she saw a little bit of herself in the individuals she was helping. Neighbors Link has a mission to strengthen the whole community by actively enhancing the healthy integration of recent immigrants.
“I grew up in Queens,” she said. “My parents were from Ecuador. I went to Iona College as a first generation college student. When I came to Neighbors Link, I knew I could make a difference. I am the example of what could happen.”
Granda-Rodriguez began at Neighbors Link as a volunteer and now serves as program director. Her true passion is helping families and individuals in crisis find the resources they need to stabilize their lives and overcome critical challenges. She has created a number of vital programs that address the health, education and economic well-being of Neighbors Link clients.
“As I started working more with clients. I got to meet their families and realized they needed other services,” said Granda-Rodriguez. Neighbors Link partners with other organizations such as the Bedford Central School District, Westchester Community College and Open Door to provide health care referrals, English as a Second Language classes, parent training and more.
The family center is the newest initiative at Neighbors Link. “We plan to work with parents and children together, so when they start Kindergarten, they will be on par with the other children,” she said. “If we give the parents and children the resources they need, everyone can be successful.”
Granda-Rodriguez points to the many volunteers at Neighbors Link as a key to the organization’s success. She says they do everything from help at the job bank to work in the parenting center.
Neighbor Link recently opened a new affiliate in Stamford, Conn. “We have become a national model as a peaceful solution for immigration,” she said. “There is something magical about this place.”