Dear Friends:

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, Welfare Rights Initiative (WRI) shares the hope and gratitude of students who design, implement and enhance our programs.

My passion for social justice was ignited through WRI’s community leadership class. I remember in class when I first heard that there were 28,000 CUNY students who were being forced out of school to comply with NYC’s workfare requirements. This was unfathomable to me and I was motivated to be a part of a movement to secure access to higher education for all people regardless of the economic status. When the work-study and internship law was passed, I knew that change was actually possible! Mayzabeth Lopez, Cohort 3

As an undergraduate student at Hunter College I was curious and diligent about my studies but very shy. WRI has had a deep influence in the helping toolkit I own today. As a bilingual professional, in the community I serve in the Bronx, I work with children and young adults to inspire them and instill in them that earning an education is a right, not a privilege. Yoselyn Fernandez, Cohort 9

WRI taught me to question why things are the way they are. I learned to look more closely at social conditions that hold people back. Placing blame and generalizing about the poor does not solve the problem. My turning point was seeing others around me at WRI who were going through what I was going through. It gave me a sense of community and strength. After the program, I left knowing I was prepared to deal with the tough obstacles in life.” Cynthia Tobar, Cohort 6

WRI ignited my passion for social justice by providing me with a structure to pursue the social work profession. The turning point was when I was asked to be the Keynote speaker at 2004 New York City Women Fighting Poverty Conference. I had the opportunity to tell my story to an audience. I felt that my story was not important because I was not important. I did not know that I held the power to change my life and my circumstances. I began to develop self-determination and have not turned back since except to see to whom I can pass this baton. Irma Williams,Cohort 9

Guided by the strong determination and bold vision of our student leaders, WRI is restoring hope and expanding options for at-risk families across New York City. We are thankful every day for each of you and the work you do as members of our community, as our supporters, and our friends. Thank you for joining us and believing that people enduring economic hardship should not have to choose between survival and a fighting chance at achieving financial freedom and security.

We wish you, and your family, a warm and wonderful holiday.


Dillonna, Roxanna and Maureen

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