Written by Jennifer Montalvo, LMSW, Manager of Client and Community Engagement
The Bronx is a community that is diverse. It is filled with people from all around the world. The borough doesn’t have the glamour of Manhattan, or the beaches of Staten Island, but what it does have is a sense of community, and one that is willing to help those in need.
Growing up in the Bronx in the early 90’s was a great experience. I vividly remember the ice cream trucks playing their music as they drove down the streets. The fire hydrants spraying water while all the children played. The block parties with loud Spanish music and delicious food. But most importantly, I remember the unity of families and neighbors from all backgrounds. Living in the South Bronx has shown me the beauty of living in one of the most diverse boroughs in New York City. It has also taught me to be a more compassionate, empathetic, and non-judgmental person, especially because many of my neighbors and friends came from low-income families.
When I was younger, I didn’t have the luxury of texting, nor did I have a cell phone. My family didn’t have a computer, emails weren’t a thing, and social media did not exist at all. The only form of communication we all had was to speak with each other face to face, and today it’s the type of communication I’ve come to prefer!
As a Bronx native, I was excited to take part in the launch of Spence-Chapin’s new Bronx satellite office. For over 100 years, Spence-Chapin has provided holistic and compassionate services to women and families across New York & New Jersey from our headquarters in Manhattan. But now, we would have a more physical presence in the community – my community. After searching for the perfect space, we finally found it – in a warm and welcoming, easily accessible suite at 349 East 149th Street.
Spence-Chapin has been in the Bronx for over a year now, and as we celebrate our first anniversary, I can’t help but reflect upon the home base that has allowed me to meet so many professionals who are doing such incredible work in our community. What motivates me most about working in my borough is the knowledge that I am giving back to the community that molded me into the person I am today. Over half of families living in the Bronx identify as Hispanic. Being a bilingual Hispanic social worker from the South Bronx allows me to build rapport with many individuals in this community that others may not be able to. I have had the privilege to sit with incredible women who were faced with challenging and unforeseen circumstances, such as an unintentional pregnancy, and support them. Having more opportunities to build relationships face-to-face has also allowed me to make an impact with community members, hospitals, social services, and other community-driven organizations.
Ultimately, my goal as a social worker in the Bronx is to provide a safe space for women and families who may reach out feeling powerless, confused or afraid. I am grateful that I can provide a protected space for them to learn about all their options so that they can feel empowered to make the decision that is right for them.
Jennifer Montalvo, LMSW (she/her/ella) is the Manager of Client and Community Engagement at Spence-Chapin Services to Families and Children. She is a lifelong Bronx native and a graduate of the Silberman School of Social Work. Jennifer has cultivated a passion for helping others and is dedicated to ensuring that the women and families she works with are empowered and prepared to build and lead successful lives and are equipped with all necessary tools to do so. To meet with Jennifer or ask questions about the Options Counseling and/or Adoption Planning process, please call 718-508-3010 or email [email protected]
Visits to the Bronx satellite office are by appointment only.
Drop-In Hours are available every Wednesday from 9am-5pm (no appointment necessary).
349 East 149th Street, Suite 607 Bronx, NY 10451