Basic Needs

The Columbia-Harlem Homeless Medical Partnership

The Columbia-Harlem Homeless Medical Partnership (CHHMP) is a medical student-run community service initiative comprised of a free health clinic open every Tuesday night and staffed by Columbia University medical students, who commit to serving this organization for all four years of medical school.  Originally established to serve the homeless community of Upper Manhattan, it also serves unstably housed individuals without access to medical care.  The program was conceived in the fall of 2004 and the clinic, established by medical students in partnership with the Center for Family and Community Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center, was opened at St. Mary’s Church in May 2007.  There also is a dental clinic open every other week that is staffed by Columbia University dental students.  Beyond offering basic medical care, CHHMP conducts regularly scheduled, extensive community-based outreach to the street homeless and unstably housed individuals, provides health education, and connects patients to a variety of social services.

Habitat for Humanity – NYC

Habitat for Humanity–NYC transforms lives and our city by uniting New Yorkers around the cause of decent and affordable housing for everyone. Founded in 1984 as an independent affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, Habitat–NYC builds in all five boroughs, completing about 25 houses each year. Current projects include a 41-unit environmentally friendly condominium in the Ocean Hill-Brownsville section of Brooklyn.

Homes are built with the “sweat equity” of family partner homeowners who work side-by-side with volunteers. Professional contractors build the exterior shells to code, and the volunteers do the interior construction. Each year, more than 10,000 New Yorkers from faith institutions, corporations, schools and civic groups come to build with Habitat and learn more about how to help solve New York’s affordable housing crisis.

Volunteer opportunities through Brick Church

Jan Hus Homeless Outreach and Advocacy Program

Jan Hus Presbyterian Church has a long history in New York City as an advocate for disenfranchised members of the community. Its Homeless Outreach and Advocacy Program (HOAP) provides a variety of direct services to those in need — from a weekly dinner program and pantry services, to counseling, referrals and emergency grants. HOAP also works in coalition with other organizations to mobilize and advocate for a change in policies that affect the low-income, poor and homeless populations of New York City.

Jan Hus is a founding member of the East Side Congregations for Housing Justice and works collaboratively with other groups, including The East Side Homeless Network, Lenox Hill Neighborhood House and Neighborhood Coalition for Shelter to provide the greatest possible services and support for its clients and to advance forward-thinking policies aimed at ending homelessness as we know it.

Volunteer opportunities through Brick Church.

Neighborhood Coalition for Shelter

The Brick Presbyterian Church is proud to have been one of the early supporters of The Neighborhood Coalition for Shelter (NCS) when it was founded 25 years ago. Located on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, NCS was created in 1981 by religious and civic organizations who were concerned about the growing problem of homelessness in the neighborhood. This community came together to help the homeless people on its streets by establishing soup kitchens serving lunch and dinner daily, operating an information and referral program in a local church, and opening a women’s shelter. NCS was formally incorporated in 1982 and began its search for a building to provide permanent housing to homeless men and women. This residence on 81st Street houses men and women who are gaining personal and financial independence and becoming active members in the community once again.

Volunteer opportunities through the Brick Church.

New York Common Pantry

New York Common Pantry (NYCP) is the largest nonsectarian neighborhood-based provider of emergency food in New York City, providing more than two million meals annually to individuals and families in and around the Upper East Side and East Harlem communities. NYCP was founded in 1980 by a coalition of Upper East Side churches and synagogues to reduce hunger and promote dignity and self-sufficiency, and receives strong support from its 40 member board of directors.

Each week, NYCP provides hundreds of emergency food packages through its 24/7 program called ‘24|7 NYCP’. It is the city’s only emergency food pantry open 7 days a week. NYCP serves 1,350 hot meals per week and distributes nutritious grocery packages containing 33,000 meals to 1600 low-income families, or approximately 3,700 individuals. In addition NYCP provides on-site showers and laundry facilities, haircuts, psychiatric assessments, emergency shelter and social service aid.

Volunteer opportunities through Brick Church.


SMART ( Sisterhood Mobilized for AIDS/HIV Research and Treatment) was founded in 1998 by Susan Rodriguez, the current Director. She was diagnosed with AIDS and had difficulty finding the information and support that she needed. Susan decided to help other women in her situation and, at first, held small meetings in her home which expanded to serve women from all of the 5 boroughs with an emphasis on the East Harlem, Harlem and South Bronx neighborhoods.

 * SMART UNIVERSITY is a series of 2-hour lectures given every Friday in 8 week trimesters during the year. It is the core treatment and prevention education program addressing the “mind, body and spirit” covering such topics as Sexual Health and HIV, Understanding Lab Values, HIV Medications and Side Effects, and Nutrition and HIV. The doctors, nurses, lawyers and other experts who teach the classes are all volunteers. Support Group meetings take place after every lecture. Breakfast and lunch are served.
* SMART ART integrates meditation and art to promote a healthy immune system and  improved emotional health.
* SMART BODY nutrition and cooking classes are led by registered dietitians and chefs and cover topics such as safe food preparation and healthy cooking techniques, and are designed to mitigate effects of treatment through diet. The class is creating an e-cookbook.
* SMART COMPUTER is comprised of 2-hour classes taught by a professional every Friday teaching basic computer skills as well as more advanced applications for the group creating the e-cookbook, as an example.
* SMART Action Sisters Involved (SASI) offers monthly leadership and advocacy training regarding women’s health issues, bringing voices of low-income HIV women to influence public health policy.
* SMART in the Community is a public outreach program.
*SMART YOUTH is a weekly program for young people ages 13-22 including education, outreach, and events. They expect 30 young women to participate this year.

All of SMART’s programs are completely free of charge and all women are welcomed. Last year 156 women and 30 youth participated regularly. 85% of the women are HIV positive, 95% are women of color, and the majority are low income and on public assistance with many at risk for homelessness, domestic violence, substance abuse, incarceration, and mental illness. SMART does evaluations yearly on the effects of their programs. They are expecting 175 women participants this coming year.

West Side Campaign Against Hunger

Through a supermarket-style food pantry, West Side Campaign Against Hunger (WSCAH) alleviates hunger and creates a culture that promotes self-reliance and works for change. WSCAH changes our perception of hungry people by working in partnership with them, providing emergency food with dignity and empowering customers to find solutions. WSCAH provides 80,000 low-income people with emergency food for 740,000 meals annually.

Customer volunteers are active participants in the pantry. They help with food deliveries, stock shelves, bag bread, break down boxes, assist customers in selecting food and do checkout. WSCAH offers interested customer volunteers the opportunity to participate in its Customer Chef Training Program. All of this provides customer volunteers with work experience from which some move on to gain paid employment. Five customer volunteers serve on the board of directors. With each monthly customer visit, social service counselors also assess customer needs such as housing and health services, referring them to appropriate agencies. All customers are encouraged to participate in the Wellness Program, which encourages them to adopt a healthy lifestyle through nutrition, cooking and exercise classes.

WSCAH has received support from Brick Church grants for several years. Brick Church members volunteer and serve on the board.