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NYer Of The Week: Javier Ramirez-Baron Provides Free Services To City's Immigrant Communities

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This week's New Yorker leads a group dedicated to providing much-needed services to one of the city's oldest immigrant communities for free. NY1's John Schiumo filed the following report, which was shot, written and edited by Rachel Smith.

Every week, hundreds of people cross the door at Cabrini Immigrant Services on Manhattan's Lower East Side.

As the director there, Javier Ramirez-Baron strives every day to meet the needs of New York's immigrant community.

"There's a huge, huge, huge need for legal services, for food in the community," he says. "Even though the majority of our clients are considered working families, they're still struggling to bring food to the table.

Cabrini offers free legal help, free English classes, and runs a food pantry open to everyone on Tuesdays.

Most of those in line for food are Chinese and Hispanic immigrants from the neighborhood.

"Everybody in Cabrini Immigrant Services, everybody is helpful for the people," says client Elvira Palacios. "Look at that! Everybody in there for the food."

Like many of those he helps, Ramirez immigrated to America.

He came to New York from Colombia, thirteen years ago.

"We have that kind of common path, trying to survive in a new city, trying to reconnect, trying to learn," Ramirez says.

Ramirez navigates that path with a staff of only three and a team of volunteers.

"We're on such a shoestring here, and most of the people you see walking around working are not being paid," says English instructor Joy Haas. "We have volunteer social workers. We have volunteers who do office work, and we have volunteers in the food pantry."

Some of these volunteers are former clients.

Shirley Brown-Davis, for example, came to Cabrini for immigration help two years ago and now volunteers there up to 30 hours a week.

"I feel like anything that I can do to give back to him, I'll try my best," Brown-Davis says. "You know, if there's a will, there's a way, and he actually finds a solution to any and everything that concerns you. So, he is for the people."

NY1 agrees, and that's why Javier Ramirez-Baron is out New Yorker of the Week.

For More Information

For more information about Javier's work and Cabrini, visit their website at

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