Harvesting Culture Awards

Celebrating Community, Culture & Commitment

After a two-year dormant period due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, Nos Quedamos is delighted to announce that its annual community-wide celebration—WE ARE MELROSE (WAM)—home of the HARVESTING CULTURE AWARDS, is coming back (observing all mandated and precautionary health & safety protocols, of course) on Saturday, June 11th from 12pm-5pm! And we couldn’t be happier than to recognize and honor the gems of our community who have dedicated their lives and efforts on behalf of Melrose Commons and the South Bronx. This year’s theme is “Healing and Resiliency.” The 2022 awards sponsored by BronxCare Health System

Nos Quedamos’ annual Harvesting Culture Awards recognize the bountiful accomplishments of Bronx pioneers and stakeholders who have made positive contributions to the well-being and positive development of our community and benefiting its residents. Every year, one of the eight awards is dedicated to a young “rising star” whose efforts, in practice, already demonstrate an ardent commitment to their community in their chosen field and/or focused endeavors.

2022 HONOREES

  • Cedric Loftin – Former District Manager, CB1 (Retired)
  • Dr. Victor G. Alicea – Boricua College 
  • Joe Hirsch, Mott Haven Herald / Hunts Point Express
  • Maritza Rivera – Sunshine Community Garden 
  • Mychal Johnson – South Bronx Unite 
  • Pregones/PRTT
  • Sonyi E. López  (Rising Star Award: Journalism) – Bronxnet
  • The Point, CDC – “Be a Buddy” Program 

Dr. Victor G. Alicea - Boricua College

Dr. Victor G. Alicea.

DR. VICTOR G. ALICEA was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico and spent his childhood in New York City’s East Harlem “El Barrio” and in Harlem. He attended the City’s public school system and upon graduation entered City College in 1956 as a pre-engineering student. After three years he transferred to Columbia University, where he completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Experimental Psychology (1963), Masters in Clinical Social Work (1966), Masters in Philosophy (1977) and Ph.D. in Urban Planning (1978). He also completed a three-year post-graduate program in Psychotherapy at the Gestalt Psychotherapy Institute (1980).

Victor Alicea has worked throughout his life combining intellectual strength and his vast knowledge of education and human polity with the caring he has for people. He has participated and led numerous institutes in public administration, group dynamics, community organization, health and mental health care services and is a practicing social worker, educator, planner, consultant to various community development programs and is a psychotherapist in private practice.

He served as: Assistant Director of the Good Neighbor Community Center in East Harlem;  New York City Mayor’s Commission on Puerto Rican and Hispanic Affairs for Mayors Wagner, Lindsay, and Koch; Social Worker at the Institute for the Crippled and Disabled, and at University Settlement House; Associate Training Director of the Puerto Rican Community Development Project (PRCDP); Assistant Deputy Commissioner of New York City Community Development Agency (HRA) and Director of Model Cities Social Planning for the Human Resources Administration; Educational Planner and consultant that participate in the creation of the National ASPIRA Agency;  and served on President Lyndon B. Johnson’s National Commission on Higher Education, and Lecturer/Instructor and Acting Chairman of  the Division of Urban Planning of Columbia University’s School of Architecture and Planning.

In 1994, Dr. Alicea was elected to the Governing Board of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU).  In 1996, was elected Fellow and Trustee of The New York Academy of Medicine, and also as Secretary of the Board of Trustees of the Academy. He also served on the Board of the N.Y. State Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities (CICU) and Board of Trustees of Cambridge College in Massachusetts.

In 2020 Dr. Alicea completed 46 years as the founding President of Universidad Boricua/Boricua College during which time the College has grown from one floor in a building in Williamsburg Brooklyn, and 26 students, to three campus centers with 800 students and 40 full-time faculty members, in three buildings including a campus in Manhattan, and the recently completed $47 million campus building for the Bronx Campus, making it a tri-Borough College; the progression has been from graduating three students in 1976 to over twelve thousand by 2020.

Dr. Alicea has two sons, five grandchildren and four great grandchildren.

Joe Hirsch - Mott Haven Herald / Hunts Point Express

Joe Hirsch.

JOE HIRSCH has been editor-in chief of the Mott Haven Herald and Hunts Point Express since 2013. He began as managing editor and senior reporter for the Express in 2008, then went on to co-found the Herald the following year, serving in the same roles.

Both publications report on issues of concern for people who live and work in the neighborhoods, and are sponsored and staffed by graduate students at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. Over the years the online and print publications have helped cast light on local politics and elections, government accountability, the South Bronx’s housing affordability crisis and homelessness, air pollution and the public health crisis it triggers, as well as highlighting the colorful and courageous people who lend the community its unique character.

The Herald’s multimedia series, On the Waterfront, won a 2022 prestigious Merit Award for professional journalists from the Silurians Press Club, for its coverage of new housing developments throughout the southwest Bronx, and their impact in the neighborhoods.

Before working for the South Bronx publications, Joe received his masters in journalism from the CUNY Graduate School. During that time, he chose Mott Haven as his neighborhood beat, and it was love at first sight.

Before finding community journalism was the only job he ever really wanted to do, Joe worked for non-profit organizations as a monitor of criminal justice reforms in Brazil and Chile.

Maritza Rivera - Sunshine Bronx Community Garden

Maritza Rivera.

MARITZA RIVERA has dedicated her life to caring for her family, community, social and environmental justice. She worked for 11 years in Housekeeping for Lincoln Hospital taking care of patient needs for safety and cleanliness while recovering their health.

In 2005, she moved with her family to Melrose Commons, became a member of El Jardín la Roca (The Rock Garden) community garden and immediately began her involvement with events that activated the garden. Wanting to live in a safe community, led her to volunteer with We Stay/Nos Quedamos, Inc., learning and assisting in the execution of events that raised awareness, addressed issues and connected community members with different resources. She became part of the Tenant Association in Park View I, the building where she lived with her family and began to organize alongside her neighbors to bring safety and improve their quality of life.

In 2012, her care for the community and environment led her to leadership, alongside her mother. Maritza became Vice President of the Bronx Sunshine Garden, a community garden that created a safe open space for people of different cultures to gather. She cooperatively plans and hosts events for the beautification of the garden as wells as promotes social gatherings and educational workshops for community groups and stakeholders to learn from one another about harvesting healthy foods and medicinal plants that help address food insecurity and health.

Understanding the importance of promoting a sustainable garden practice, she collaborates with nonprofit organizations to provide resources for the community. For this reason, it took little effort for her to partner with We Stay/Nos Quedamos and join our vision in creating the opportunity to convert the Bronx Sunshine Garden into a Resiliency Hub, a place for emergency preparedness, which gives assistance to an already vulnerable community by allowing the people to receive aide in a time of crisis.

Maritza’s ultimate goal is to be proactive in the community, providing resources for their needs. In her leadership role, she mobilizes and guides others, facilitates problem solving and decision-making in the community to transform open spaces, grow food and improve access to food nutrition, get the community involved, increase physical activity and improve mental health.

Maritza’s biggest achievements are setting strategies and monitoring the progress towards her goal of seeing her family and community safe and health.

Mychal Johnson - South Bronx Unite

Mychal Johnson.

MYCHAL JOHNSON is a community-based advocate for environmental, economic and social justice in the South Bronx. He is a co-founder of South Bronx Unite and a founding member of the Mott Haven-Port Morris Community Land Stewards, where is also a board member. Mychal advocates for Environmental Justice, greater access to green space, truly affordable housing, and quality of life-enhancing efforts without gentrification in the South Bronx. 

He serves on the board of directors of the NYC Community Land Initiative (NYCCLI), the Bronx Council for Environmental Quality, and the Community Advisory Board of Columbia University’s NIEHS Center for Environmental Health in Northern Manhattan. Mychal was also appointed as a civil society voting member of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Open Space Committee. He has been a member of Bronx Community Board 1 and was notably selected by the United Nations to serve as one of 38 global civil society appointees to the historic UN Climate Summit in 2014. 

He is a long-time activist organizing for greater access to open green space, truly affordable housing, a healthier quality of life, and community-focused development that supports rather than displaces neighborhood residents.

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Pregones/PRTT

Pregones/PRTT.

PREGONES/PUERTO RICAN TRAVELING THEATER (Pregones/PRTT) is a multigenerational performing ensemble, multidisciplinary arts presenter, and owner/steward of bilingual arts facilities in The Bronx and Manhattan. Our mission is to champion a Puerto Rican/Latinx cultural legacy of universal value through creation and performance of original plays and musicals, exchange and partnership with other artists of merit, and engagement of diverse audiences.

Pregones was founded in 1979 when a group of artists led by Rosalba Rolón set out to create new works in the tradition of Caribbean and Latin American “colectivos” or performing ensembles. The company spent formative years touring the East Coast and internationally before taking residence in The Bronx, where it is known as a creative hub and engine of arts-centered community development. Spurred by stage and film icon Miriam Colón, PRTT was founded in 1967 as one of the first bilingual theater companies in the U.S. and is credited for nurturing the development of hundreds of Latinx artists and pioneering lasting models for diverse audience engagement. Following merger, our unified performing arts season plays a decisive role in empowering underrepresented artists and audiences to claim their place at the front of the American theater.

Artistically, Pregones/PRTT is driven by the conviction that live theater is a formidable crucible of ideas and action, by the certainty that ensemble practice is the unshakable foundation of our legacy, and by an exuberant love of music! Works by Pregones/PRTT propel into the hearts of the audience on the merits of their staging and music, the grace and talent of our ensemble casts, and the universal scope of stories anchored in shifting geographies of home and hope.

  • We program with and for the people of The Bronx, with a mind for easy access and discovery.
  • We employ and advance the careers of local artists, technicians, and other arts professionals.
  • We drive cultural investors and consumers to-from Manhattan’s theater center and The Bronx.
  • We are proud Puerto Rican/Latinx representatives of NYC and The Bronx at home and abroad.

Sonyi E. López - 'Rising Star Award: Journalism' (Bronxnet)

Sonyi E. López.

SONYI ELENA LÓPEZ is currently a Producer and Community Journalist at BronxNet Community Television and a Community Empowerment Coordinator and Producer at Univision New York.

At BronxNet, Sonyi is a Producer working with local community organizations, partners and stakeholders to create content and lead productions from pre to post production. Sonyi is the station’s only bilingual journalist covering local community events, through visual storytelling in both English and Spanish. A proud lifelong Bronxite, of Dominican decent, she prides herself in highlighting the Bronx with an authentic lens focusing on the borough’s artists, activists, movers and shakers while amplifying collective voices of the community and discussing topics that truly matter and resonate with her community.

At Univision, Sonyi works closely with the Director of Community Empowerment in building new community partnerships and maintaining existing partnerships serving the Tri-State area. She is also the Lead Producer of “Amigos De Univision”, the station’s weekly community program geared towards providing local resources and information to the Hispanic community.

It took a village to raise this child. Sonyi believes in a holistic approach to community and civic engagement and she particularly enjoys actively listening and learning from both youth and elders while empowering them through education, moral & tech support, providing resources, information and more.

The Hunts Point – Longwood 'Be A Buddy (BaB)' Program

THE HUNTS POINT – LONGWOOD BE A BUDDY (BaB) program is designed to prepare the community for future climate events through climate health education and community preparedness. The program aims to have local volunteers help those most at-risk residents and educate the community about climate preparedness.

In case of a climate-related emergency, local residents registered to the BaB network will be contacted and assisted by local volunteers from the community.This is an initiative led by THE POINT, CDC in partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency “COOL NEIGHBORHOODS NYC” program, the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) and the Fund for Public Health NY (FDPNY).

Our Be A Buddy program allows local community members to check up on those most vulnerable to heat and other weather-related emergencies. If you or someone you know could benefit from being checked up on during heat waves or extreme cold- make sure to register to our Be A Buddy network ! You can also volunteer to become a Buddy and help your local community.

Our Event Themes and Awardees Over the Years:

JULY 10, 2019. “NATURALEZA: Honoring Our Green Legacy,” honoring Bronxites who have dedicated themselves to being stewards of our parks, community gardens and alternative green spaces and have endeavored to keep those assets in the best interest and access of the community. The 2019 Honorees were: Ursula Chanse, Danny Chervoni, Tanya Fields, Maximo Rivera, Nancy Ortíz-Suran, and Karen Washington. Download Legacy FLYER.

2019 Harvesting Culture Awards sponsored by BronxCare Health System.

Harvesting Culture Awards recipients with NQ staff and community leaders in 2018.
Harvesting Culture Awards recipients with NQ staff, community leaders, and community resident/photo-bomber in 2017.