Letter from our COO
Saving Lives through a Trauma-Informed Lens
Dear friends,

This year has been incredibly challenging for all of us on a professional level as workers in the nonprofit human services field, and also on a personal level, as many of us have been touched by tragedy and loss during the ongoing global pandemic. This week also marked the third anniversary of Hurricane Maria's devastating blow to Puerto Rico, which claimed thousands of lives and crippled the island's economy, infrastructure, and stability.

2020 came with force and with a very clear message to the entire world, revealing the complexity of life and the essence of what matters most: Love. Love for our families, our communities, our nation, our state, our city and, in my case, a profound and unconditional love and commitment for Acacia's mission and future. Despite the trials we have faced individually and collectively, today I am more inspired than ever by the professionalism, knowledge, compassion, and dedication of Acacia Network’s strong and diverse workforce, comprised of nearly 2,700 staff members across New York and six additional states. 

When I first began my journey at Acacia Network eight years ago, I dreamed of advancing a truly integrated, sustainable organization that provided the highest quality of care through a trauma-informed lens. Over the past three years, I have worked tirelessly with our team of Acacia Champions to pursue these three pillars of Quality, Integration, and Sustainability, and I believe our outcomes during these challenging months are a testament to what can be accomplished when we all come together with one purpose and one mission:

Despite these successes, we know there is much work to be done. The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, and we continue to fight many more battles that threaten our communities daily, such as the opioid pandemic, the homelessness crisis, food insecurity, and the digital divide, as well as the continued impact of structural inequity, racial injustice, and civil unrest. Rest assured that Acacia Network is not only ready to continue facing these challenges head on, but we will do so with a renewed sense of hope and energy

This month, as we commemorate National Recovery Month and kick off National Hispanic Heritage Month, we realize that we have come a long way since the days of our early pioneers, but our guiding principles and mission remain the same: to provide high-quality, integrated, bilingual and culturally-competent services to communities in need, whatever those needs may be.

Before I sign off, I'd like to take a moment to honor Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who passed away this week. A great ally to causes very much at the heart of our mission, RGB was a steadfast champion for women and minority rights in our country, and her legacy will forever inspire us to stand up for our beliefs, even when it means that you must challenge power and social constructs.

Last but not least, we welcome the thousands of kids who are coming back to our classrooms and programs this week. Despite the unconventional start to the 2020-2021 school year, we are working with our leadership, staff, and partners to ensure that our students and program participants have a safe, healthy, and productive educational experience.

Our deepest appreciation goes out to our staff members, our leaders, and our Board Members for their unwavering commitment to our work, our mission, and those we serve. ¡Juntos, seguiremos hacia adelante!

With gratitude,
Lymaris Albors
Executive Vice President &
Chief Operating Officer (COO)
P.D. We invite you to check out our new website for more info on all of the great things happening at Acacia!
Summary of COVID-19 Outcomes
Throughout the pandemic, Acacia Network has leveraged its integrated housing, healthcare, and community development resources. To do so, we have relied on the expertise of our clinical team, guided by our longstanding experience at our Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and our skilled nursing facility, Casa Promesa, which serves approximately 100 adults with chronic diseases, including HIV/AIDS.

Our in-house clinical expertise, coupled with our decades of programmatic experience in crisis management, have ensured the best possible outcomes for thousands of clients across our programs, even the most vulnerable.

During the past six months, Acacia Network and our affiliates have provided:

  • Integrated primary and behavioral care services to approximately 12,000 patients;
  • Safe, affordable housing to more than 4,000 individuals and families, while ensuring that more than 7,000 homeless individuals, including families with children, have access to shelter;
  • Ongoing case management, support, and recreation to 2,500 older adults in our Senior Centers, while continuing to engage hundreds of early learners, school-aged children and their families through our Day Care, Afterschool, and Summer programming;
  • Workforce and Benefits Access Services to more than 1,100 individuals and 800 individual households and families across four states through our affiliate, Seedco;
  • Access to virtual arts & culture programming to thousands of households through our affiliate, Loisaida, Inc. 

To ensure continued access to care, we rolled out integrated Telehealth Services, providing video appointments to clients of all ages in need of primary and behavioral care, including residents of our homeless shelters, and we provided virtual wellness and informational workshops to our clients and frontline workers to support their continued wellbeing. 

Celebrating National Recovery Month
Bronx Opioid Collective Impact Project
We are excited to announce that the Bronx Opioid Collective Impact Project has been awarded funding for another year, during which we will continue to provide much-needed addiction and harm-reduction resources to reduce opioid-related fatalities and increase community safety in underserved neighborhoods across the Bronx. 

As we celebrate National Recovery Month, we’d like to take a moment to highlight the brave and selfless work of the peers who are part of our Bronx Opioid Collective Peer Network, and whose dedication, first-hand experience, and empathy save countless lives every year.
Althea Matthews has been with the Bronx Opioid Collective since its inception in 2018. She feels proud of the outreach she and other peers are conducting in at-risk communities, and says that her biggest inspiration is her drive to save more lives.

“I’m so blessed to have this opportunity to be involved in such a great service. It’s given me a profound perspective of being really involved in change as well as making a difference in our community,” she adds.

Acacia Network launched the Bronx Opioid Collective Impact Project in 2018, in collaboration with the NY City Council and the Office of Council Member Rafael Salamanca, Jr., and Third Avenue BID. Other community-based partners include Boom Health, Harlem United, St. Ann's Corner for Harm Reduction (SACHR), New York Harm Reduction Educators (NYHRE), the Emma L. Bowen Community Service Center, Peer Network of New York, and Samaritan Daytop Village. 

Along with our partners, Acacia Network conducts Outreach Events in the Bronx to provide critical services, including the distribution of essential kits and lunches, free Narcan overdose prevention training, syringe exchanges, referrals to social services and health programs, among other resources. During fiscal year (2019-2020), the Bronx Opioid Collective accomplished the following:
Grants to Support Primary Care, Behavioral Health & Addiction Services
Acacia Network is proud to announce that we have been awarded the following grants and operating funds to continue providing critical services in the areas of primary care, behavioral health, and addiction services throughout New York State:

  • OASAS Telepractice Capacity to Increase Access to Treatment Opioid Use Disorder;
  • OASAS Mobile Unit Vehicle to Increase Access to Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder (allocated for the purchase of 2 mobile medical units);
  • NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOH) Sexual Reproduction Collaborative for La Casa de Salud's Sexual Education and Family Planning Initiatives;
  • US Department of Labor (DOL) Homeless Veteran Re-integration Program for Homeless Veterans, Incarcerated Veterans, Female Veterans and Veterans with Families
Affordable Housing for Vulnerable Communities
Update on our Current Affordable Housing Projects
Acacia Network’s vision of healthy communities is deeply connected to high-quality, affordable housing. Presently, our housing portfolio consists of 3,316 units of affordable housing for low or moderate-income individuals and families, 728 units of supportive housing serving individuals with medical and/or behavioral health chronic conditions, and 130 units of permanent housing for formerly homeless families & individuals.

Some of the projects currently in progress include:

  • La Plaza de Virginia - Buffalo, NY: An affordable housing development featuring 46 units for seniors 55 years of age and older; project is anticipated to close on financing in November 2020, with construction commencing shortly thereafter.
  • Sendero Verde – East Harlem, NYC: A mixed-use affordable housing development in partnership with Jonathan Rose Companies and L+M Development Partners, featuring 708 affordable units, as well as community, education, and social services, and community gardens.
  • Palacio Dorado – Toa Alta, PR: An affordable housing complex developed by Acacia Network in Puerto Rico for seniors ages 62 and older; we recently applied for funding through the Community Development Block Grant - Disaster Relief (CDBG-DR) to make improvements such as solar panels, air conditioning in community rooms, and more. In September 2020, this project was awarded an ENERGY STAR Score of 100, which means it is more energy efficient than 100% of similar properties nationwide.
  • Resilient Prototype Home - Caguas, PR: A project that aims to provide long-term sustainable, green, and resilient housing for low-moderate income families, while creating a scalable model for implementation across the island and in other disaster and non-disaster areas.
  • Palmetto Gardens, Bushwick II and Hope Gardens – Brooklyn, NYC: Rehabilitation, modernization and upgrading of 1,321 units as part of the NextGeneration NYCHA plan. The Acacia-Pennrose team is utilizing programs such as the Rental Assistance Demonstration (“RAD”) program and the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program (LIHTC) to safeguard long-term housing assistance, improve and modernize the buildings, and stabilize developments by placing them on a more secure and solid financial footing, while providing much-needed social and community services to the residents.
  • 1230 Metcalf Avenue – Bronx, NYC: A 249-unit affordable housing development in the Soundview section of the Bronx, as a joint venture between Acacia Network and Phipps Houses. Currently 80% complete, the building is expected to be ready for occupancy in January 2021. The building is designed and constructed to the Passive House energy efficiency standard, one of the highest standards of green buildings. In addition to affordable housing, the Development includes 13,449 gross square feet (GSF) of retail space and 4,799 GSF of community facility (CF) space located on the ground floor of the building, among other amenities.

Integration at Work: Stopping the Spread of COVID-19
Mobile Testing at Hope Gardens
Acacia Network’s Mobile Medical Unit, part of our Primary Care Division, has been conducting COVID-19 testing at Hope Gardens in Brooklyn every Wednesday since July 22, 2020. Our Mobile Medical Unit clinical team has included four nurses, in charge of performing COVID-19 PCR Nasopharyngeal Testing, as well as two members of our Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) Team to address community concerns regarding widespread substance use and addiction in the neighborhood. 

COVID-19 testing has been performed outdoors and is open to the entire community. As of September 15, a total of 289 tests had been performed during seven testing sessions, with three individuals testing positive. Upon receiving the positive results, the Acacia Network Primary Care team immediately notified the individuals, and we have continued to follow up with them. Two of the three positive individuals have clinically recovered and are doing well. The third individual, who tested positive on September 2nd, required hospitalization several days later.

In addition to the COVID-19 testing, our MAT team has conducted outreach and education services, and has distributed 35 Narcan kits to community members. 
COVID-19 Testing in the Bronx and Brooklyn
In an effort to ensure widespread testing in our communities, Acacia Network continues to offer COVID-19 testing to our clients, staff, and the community at large.

We are currently conducting COVID-19 nasal swab tests and COVID-19 antibody blood tests at our Ramon Velez Health Center, located at 754 E 151st St, The Bronx, NY 10455 on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 1:00-4:00PM, by appointment. Same-day appointments are available!

We accept most insurance plans, as well as Medicaid and Medicare. We also offer sliding scale and/or free testing for uninsured patients. For more information or to make an appointment at Ramon Velez, please call: (347)352-2484 or (718)734-2539.

We are also conducting free COVID-19 testing every Wednesday at 120 Menahan Street in Brooklyn. For more information, call (718)734-2539.
Learn More about our Programs
Acacia Network Virtual Information Sessions
Please join us during our upcoming Virtual Information Sessions, during which you will hear from our leaders across different Divisions and Departments as they present an overview of their programs and initiatives. We hope you will join us on the following dates:

No need to RSVP! Simply join us by CLICKING THIS LINK on the date/time of the presentation.

Did you miss our earlier presentations on our Primary Care, Behavioral Health, Affordable & Supportive Housing, and Transitional Housing Divisions? We've got you covered! Click on the links below to download and view the presentations:

We hope you enjoy these information sessions, and encourage you to reach out to our Director of Communications, Gabriela Gonzalez, at ggonzalez@acacianetwork.org, should you be interested in additional information.
Fostering Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Acacia Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Council
As an organization whose workforce is 90% Black, African American and/or Hispanic/Latinx, serving primarily low-income people of color, Acacia Network is deeply committed to leading change and to continue working to dismantle the structural barriers that perpetuate oppression, injustice, and discrimination against individuals due to their race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity. 

We are proud of the strides we have made to further build on our commitment to intentionally advance the imperatives of diversity, equity, and inclusion across our Network. As we shared in June 2020, we pioneered our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Council, which will play a critical role in pioneering our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Strategic Plan.

Our draft DEI Strategic Plan identifies five priority areas that will elevate our work through the lens of a comprehensive DEI framework, while ensuring leadership commitment and accountability, cultivating a supportive and inclusive environment, and building and maintaining a diverse workforce at all levels within the organization.

In addition, recognizing that there is work to be done to advance LGBTQ+ rights, Acacia has formed a taskforce that will seek to strengthen our commitment to transgender inclusion in the workplace through our Trans-forming the Workplace Plan, which will build the foundation for an even more diverse and inclusive organization. Using a collaborative approach, the taskforce will implement focused initiatives and best practices with tangible impacts that are rooted in principles of providing a safe work environment for transgender employees, program participants, and the LGBTQ+ community at large. 
Additional Community Resources
Fresh, Healthy Food at Harvest Home Farmers' Markets
We've partnered with Harvest Home to provide our communities with access to farm-fresh local produce and educational opportunities to achieve healthier lifestyles.

With markets in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens, Harvest Home is a New York City-based, 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing access to local, farm-fresh produce in low-income neighborhoods. Founded in 1993, their markets create community gathering places that educate the public about health and nutrition, while supporting regional agriculture and providing job opportunities. CLICK HERE to check out their feature on BronxNet!

Please note: To ensure the safety of all clients and staff and to maintain clean market environments, all Farmers’ Markets are in strict compliance with health & hygiene guidelines currently in effect.

We encourage you to visit the Farmers' Markets and share with your families and friends!
Become an Acacia Ally
Become an Acacia Ally and help us continue to save lives through an integrated, culturally-competent, trauma-informed lens!

How can you become an ally?

Your support will enable us to continue providing critical services to those who need them most. For more information about Acacia Network and how you can support our work, contact us today!
For over 50 years, Acacia Network and its affiliates have been committed to improving the quality-of-life and wellbeing of underserved Latino communities by providing access to integrated health and housing programs, and by reinvesting in communities through innovative programming, employment opportunities and affordable housing ownership, among other initiatives. Acacia Network’s offices are located in New York City, Buffalo, Albany, and Syracuse in New York State, as well as Florida, Maryland, Tennessee, Arkansas, Georgia, Connecticut, and Puerto Rico. Acacia Network’s extensive array of community-based services are fully integrated, bilingual and culturally competent, while ensuring easy access and actively incorporating consumer and community level input. For more information, visit: www.acacianetwork.org