The HelpNYC 2023 Honorees To Be Celebrated, May 23

LinkNYC, Council Member Erik Bottcher, Neighbors Together, and others are to be honored at helpNYC's Annual Garden Party.

By: Apr. 28, 2023
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The HelpNYC 2023 Honorees To Be Celebrated, May 23

helpNYC, the predominant organization leading the effort to change the way New Yorkers navigate the public health and social services sectors in New York City, is honored to announce its 2023 Honorees.

Every year, helpNYC's Board of Directors identifies Honorees whose outstanding work supports solutions that help New Yorkers overcome challenging circumstances. These Honorees demonstrate a commitment to advocating for or serving underserved communities in New York City, and their actions align with the Mission of helpNYC to create economic and social opportunities for underserved New Yorkers in need.

This year's Honorees will be recognized and celebrated at the 2023 helpNYC Garden Party on May 23, 2023. The Garden Party is sponsored by Housing Works, Inc, The 163rd Street Improvement Council, and St. John's in the Village with contributions from Ethereal by Jackson Stewart, Jonathan Adler, Kora Organics, Museum of Ice Cream, Yip Fitness, and City Winery.

The 2023 Honorees to come from a broad range of backgrounds and lived experiences to serve underserved communities in New York City. Their dedication and commitment make it possible for helpNYC to provide critical programs that help New Yorkers have better lives.

The 2023 helpNYC Honorees are:

Maria Teresa Walles is the 2023 Neighbor of the Year Honoree, recognized this year for her work in co-founding the July is Homeless Rights Month in New York City Coalition of advocates and organizations that elevate the challenges the unhoused and shelter residents confront every day in New York City.

The helpNYC Neighbor of the Year honor is given to an individual or organization that reflects the values of helpNYC and is a powerful advocate for New Yorkers.

Maria Teresa Walles is a passionate advocate for unhoused New Yorkers since 2004. Using her lived experience with homelessness, food insecurity, and mental health recovery, she advocates for the rights of New Yorkers that are experiencing street and shelter homelessness in New York City. She has worked with a wide range of organizations such as Community Voices Heard, Picture the Homeless, Safety Net Activists at Urban Justice Center, Theatre of the Oppressed NYC and the City of New York's Continuum of Care, Persons with Lived Experience (PWLEx) Committee.

Valerie Reyes-Jimenez is the 2023 helpNYC Advocate of the Year, honored for her 30+ years of advocacy work for those who are unhoused and affected by HIV & AIDS.

The helpNYC Advocate of the Year honor is given to an individual or group that aligns with the mission of helpNYC and advocates for underserved New Yorkers.

Valerie is a native New Yorker, mother, grandmother, community organizer, and activist. She is a full-time staffer in the advocacy department at Housing Works, Inc., and a leader in her community. Valerie applies over three decades of experience and skill working with others in the ongoing AIDS crisis and an unflappable attitude of goodwill to advocate for those living with HIV and AIDS and those who have experienced homelessness, substance use, and mental health challenges.

Stacey Rose-Blass is the 2023 helpNYC Volunteer of the Year Honoree, recognized for her commitment to the mission of helpNYC through her volunteer contributions at helpNYC, Mandala Café, and Fountain House.

The helpNYC Volunteer of the Year honor is given to a helpNYC Volunteer who advances the work of helpNYC through their own actions.

Having been involved in social justice work since a teen in high school, Stacey comes to helpNYC with a keen desire to affect positive change in all her interactions. She spent the majority of her adult life in the Washington, D.C. area, professionally at the (former) U.S. Information Agency and the U.S. Department of State primarily in international exchange programs. She also served as Union President of the American Federation of Government Employees, Local 1812 from 1993-1996, a critical time of "the reinvention of government" under the Clinton Administration. More recently Stacey was a founding member of the renewed Social Action Steering Committee at Congregation Romemu, NYC.

LinkNYC (Intersection Media, City Bridge, ZenFi Networks) is the 2023 helpNYC Mission Partner of the Year Honoree, recognized for their commitment to connecting underserved New Yorkers to helpNYC and other advocacy services through technology.

The helpNYC Mission Partner of the Year honor is given to a helpNYC Mission Partner that advances the work of helpNYC through their own actions.

Nick Colvin will accept the honor on behalf of LinkNYC and serves as Chief Executive Officer of CityBridge, LLC, the consortium behind the groundbreaking LinkNYC program, which provides free public Wi-Fi used by millions of residents, commuters, and visitors to New York City, as well providing free phone calls, access to government and social services, and public service messaging. Nick is responsible for external affairs, community support and engagement, product, engineering, and all operational aspects of LinkNYC.

Previously, Nick was an Associate Partner at Control Group, where he worked with global brands and nonprofits to bring to life innovative projects at the intersection of digital and physical spaces.

Nick has over 20 years of experience building and supporting human-focused technology with organizations including ACLU, Apple, AT&T, Google, and Ralph Appelbaum Associates. He holds a Bachelor of Music from Western Carolina University.

The Neighbors Together Corporation is the 2023 helpNYC Listing Partner of the Year Honoree, honored for their advocacy in bringing justice and equity to housing to New Yorkers in need.

The helpNYC Listing Partner of the Year honor is given to an helpNYC Listing Partner that has gone above and beyond to serve New Yorkers in need.

"On behalf of Neighbors Together's board, staff, and over 10,000 low-income members who participate in and lead our programs each year, we are so honored to receive helpNYC's 2023 Listing Partner of the Year Award! Thank you for this special recognition of our housing advocacy work, which aims to secure safe, permanent, affordable housing for very low-income New Yorkers experiencing homelessness or housing instability. We stand in proud solidarity with helpNYC as we work towards our collective vision to build a just and equitable city where all New Yorkers have access to the resources they need to live stable, healthy lives and to thrive." Denny Marsh, Executive Director of the Neighbors Together Corporation.

Since 1982, Neighbors Together has fought hunger and poverty with three integrated programs: Community Café, Empowerment Program, and Community Action Program. They provide emergency food to 10,000 men, women, and children annually, and connect our members to vital life-stabilizing resources beyond food (such as housing and health care) and address hunger at its root by organizing our members to advocate for hunger and poverty-ending public policies.

Council Member Erik Bottcher is the 2023 helpNYC Outstanding Government Official Honoree, honored for his commitment to underserved communities in his district across the city, to ensuring there is equitable access to city services, the "Rat Pack" to end the rat infestation in New York City, and for Intro 522, mental health legislation designed to assist families in the NYC Shelter System.

The helpNYC Outstanding Government Official honor is given to an elected or appointed Federal, State, or Local Government Official who is a strong advocate demonstrated by their voting records, actions, and positions to help underserved New Yorkers in New York City.

Erik is a dedicated public servant and activist who has devoted his life to progressive causes and to the betterment of the community he loves. In 2021, he was elected to represent City Council District 3, which includes the neighborhoods of Greenwich Village, Chelsea, Hell's Kitchen, Hudson Square, Flatiron, Times Square, the Theater District, and the Garment District.

Growing up in a small town in the Adirondack Mountains, Erik was the only gay person he knew, and his personal struggles with depression and isolation sparked in him a lifelong dedication to helping the most marginalized members of our society. His career in public service began in 2009 as the LGBTQ & HIV/AIDS Community Liaison in the City Council's community outreach unit, where he organized grassroots campaigns on issues including hate crimes, transgender rights, housing for people with HIV/AIDS, and marriage equality.

Erik then served as the statewide LGBTQ Community Liaison in the governor's office, where he helped organize the fight for marriage equality in New York State, working with activists from Buffalo to Montauk in an unprecedented grassroots campaign to garner support for the Marriage Equality Act. New York State subsequently made history as the largest state to legalize same-sex marriage.

"In our work, we come across some extraordinary individuals who ordinarily aren't celebrated for the work they do to help New Yorkers overcome the unprecedented and unexpected challenges we sometimes face in life. We hope that by lifting these individuals and organizations other New Yorkers will take notice and help our neighbors in need.," said helpNYC Founder and Executive Director Rue Parkin about the Honorees. "Most of our 2023 Honorees use their lived experience overcoming homelessness, mental health challenges, and food insecurity to help others and that is the whole mission of helpNYC. Societal changes have always had more impact and staying power when those directly impacted bring solutions they found in their own struggles."

helpNYC is the first organization of its kind to help underserved communities in New York City navigate the public health and social services sectors. Through the Resource, New Yorkers can get connected with verified, low-barrier entry services and information.

The helpNYC Honorees will be celebrated at the 2023 helpNYC Garden Party on Tuesday, May 23, 2023, 6:00p in the St. Benedict's Cloistered Garden at St. Johns in the Village, 224 Waverly Place, West Village, Manhattan. Tickets are on sale now at