About us



Mercy Center creates opportunities for women, men and families in the South Bronx to grow and thrive through education, family, civic, social and economic programs. We build community with a spirit of hospitality, respect and equity in the tradition of the Sisters of Mercy.




1990 – Mercy Center was founded

Founded in 1990, Mercy Center has grown from a volunteer counseling service operating out of a single classroom located in a Mott Haven school into a respected, community-based resource offering comprehensive, holistic services and programs that support our participants’ efforts to improve their lives.

1995 – Mercy Center was incorporated

We incorporated in 1995 and received 501(c)(3) tax exempt status in 1996.

2003 – Mercy Center’s new building

In 2003 we constructed a two story building on East 145th Street to house our growing organization.

2015 – A new location

In 2015, with demand for our services increasing, we expanded to include a second location nearby on East 149th Street.

2020 – Mercy Center’s response to COVID-19

During the pandemic, we continued to be a valuable community resource.

About us

Our People, Our Neighborhood

Over the past thirty years, Mercy Center has developed into a trusted community resource for the predominantly low-income, immigrant residents of our Mott Haven neighborhood and other areas of the Bronx. Through our programs, we partner with women, men, and families as they address challenges faced by low-income immigrants, including their need for English language skills, adult education, financial coaching, affordable child care, family strengthening, and immigration assistance.

Through our core programs and a full complement of support services, Mercy Center addresses four critical challenges facing people who live in the Mott Haven section of the South Bronx:

  • successful employment while escaping economic poverty
  • violent and oppressive behaviors in families and the community
  • overburdened and underperforming schools
  • helping immigrants escape feelings of isolation by recognizing the power they have to change their lives as a vital part of their community.


Mercy Center Staff Members

Stephen J. Stritch, III

Executive Director

Paula Sarro

Associate Executive Director

Archie Crawford

Director of Development

Linda Simmons

Director of Finance and Operations

Judit Criado Fiuza

Director of Adult Education, Immigration, and Workforce Development

Debbie Panek, LMSW, MPH

Director of Family and Youth Programs

Marianne Sheridan

Manager of Youth Programs

Julia M. Ponce-Vega, Esq.

Director of Immigrant Services

Fabiola Benitez

Part-Time Youth Program Associate

Jonathan Acosta

Operations Manager

Irma Carlos


Maria Calixto


Silvia Gonzalez

Office Manager/Development Associate

Magalys Collado

Family Worker

Ayesha S. Harrison

Program Manager Adult Education and Workforce Development

Maritza Franklin-Porras


Maria Hernandez

Part-time Youth Program Associate

Marta Guzman


John Roldan

Grants Manager and Payroll Administrator

Beverly Heath

Accounting Associate/Bookkeeper

Catherine Loredo

Adult Education and Workforce Development Program Coordinator

Tammy Huang


Kristal Perez


Carolina Lobeto

Community Aide

Mayra Sanchez-Estupiñan

Community Worker

Alma Osorio Alvarado

Senior Program Manager, Adult Education and Workforce Development

Jessica Tenesaca

Family Worker

Amalia Ruiz

Adult Education and Workforce Development Program Coordinator

Jhensy Urbaez


Silvia Simon

Community Aide

Melina Rosa De Dios

Immigrant Services Legal Administrative Assistant


Thanks to our supporters!

We are very grateful for the generosity of the individuals, groups, businesses, foundations and friends that partner with us in the fight against childhood hunger. Together, we’re making a difference in the lives of the many food-insecure children throughout New York.