Freedom Community Center

Award Recipients - 1999

Sandra Hernandez, Founder & Director

Sandra Hernandez is the founder and director of the Freedom Community Center (Freedom), which was created to improve the quality of life for residents in a four block area of Mott Haven.  It is staffed by volunteers who live in the neighborhood and dedicate their efforts to community service programs that increase availability of quality housing, enhance delivery of social services and build community capacity.  Specifically, Freedom offers support to families as they relocate from homeless shelters, temporary housing or substandard housing by providing case management, information, leadership training and referrals.  Freedom works with the elderly, substance abusers and the physically disabled to provide referrals for mental and health care, job training and placement assistance.  
A walk down 139th street reflects concrete evidence of Freedom’s organizing work.  At a 10-story building on the block, Ms. Hernandez helped organize a tenant’s association that convinced the Department of Housing and Urban Development to make improvements.  Several neatly fenced empty lots on the street are products of a march on the City Sanitation Department.  Freedom plans to continue addressing issues raised by residents at open meetings.  The goal is to make institutions accountable to the community and people that they are funded to serve.

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