March: Advocacy Day in Albany


On March 14th, a group of Center for Family Life staff and program participants in our Community Study Circles ventured to Albany to present their advocacy priorities to elected officials!

Through funding provided by the Thriving Families, Safer Children Youth, Family, and Community initiative, we offered a series of Chinese and Spanish Community Study Circle (CSC) workshops, which were co-created and led by program staff with lived experience. These eight-week workshops used a popular education methodology to introduce community participants to community-specific and citywide data on education, housing, economic development, environmental issues, public sanitation, food access and child welfare participation. Group members explored the “story” that data tells about community experiences, contextualizing this data “story” in their own immediate and personal life experiences. Workshops culminated in final presentations to policy makers and elected officials, where participants shared their personal experiences and ideas for community strengthening!

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A significant highlight of our Community Study Circle program was our advocacy trip this March. CFL staff, including CSC group leaders, and Spanish and Chinese program participants travelled to Albany where they engaged directly with state officials to discuss policy recommendations and to elevate community priorities. Our team was incredibly grateful to meet with the offices of Senators Iwen Chu, John C. Liu, and Roxanne Persaud. Together, our team presented the collective concerns of the Chinese and Spanish communities in Sunset Park.


After their day of advocacy, we asked participants to share their reflections. Here is what they chose to share:

“Having participated in study circles at CFL gave me the opportunity to develop my leadership skills and proudly represent our Latino community in Albany. It was an experience that will be unforgettable for me. Our voice was heard, we carried a message and we were heard. Now it is up to the senators to work for our needs so that our community’s goals can be met!”

“For me, it was a wonderful trip and a great learning experience. It was my first time going to Albany, I am satisfied with my small contribution to our community. It is a phenomenal experience because of La Union Hace la Fuerza (strength in unity). God willing, the official electors can commit themselves to work for us and provide us with support for each topic and solution that we have presented.”

“It was great working with the Spanish speaking group, which allowed two marginalized groups to unite for such special cause. Thank you for inviting me!” 


This trip truly emphasizes the power of diverse communities coming together to expand their reach and impact. We are so proud of our CFL staff and program participants for voicing their concerns and advocating for changes in our community and throughout NYC!


Save the Date: The Extra Mile 2024

We are delighted to announce that we will be holding our annual staff recognition Extra Mile event in-person on Wednesday June 5th, from 6-8pm at L’Wren in Sunset Park, Brooklyn!


Please join us here in Sunset Park and meet some of our amazing ESOL staff and students as we celebrate the strength of our life long learners!


Since the fall of 2022, very high numbers of newly arrived individuals and families have come to our immigrant community in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. The majority share stories of difficult passages here to the US and most continue to experience challenges as they establish their new lives in Sunset Park. New arrivals come to Center for Family Life looking for a variety of supports to build new lives for themselves and their families, and most have a pressing need to learn English so that they can find work and make the most of their new lives in NYC. Our ESOL staff team has gone above and beyond to support new arrivals and to encourage them as they move forward in their journey to learn English.


Come celebrate our incredible ESOL staff and hear directly from staff and students in our program about what the program means to them!


You can purchase tickets for the event by clicking here!

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February: Taxes

Here at Center for Family Life, we continue our decades-long commitment to providing professional VITA tax filing services to thousands of clients in our community and beyond! These services, which are generously funded by the NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and NYU Langone, are crucial for the low-income families that we serve. Certified tax preparers guide clients through the complicated tax filing process, alleviating the stress associated with filing and ensuring that all filers get their full refund. The returns that families receive from filing their taxes have a huge impact on the household resources available to families to meet basic needs and have a significant positive economic benefit to our community as a whole. We are proud that last year our VITA Tax Filing Program helped file over 3,720 returns, yielding a total refund amount of $4,406,719!

This year we are excited to offer free VITA tax filing services at two sites in Brooklyn! Appointments are available five days per week at our main office and three days per week at the NYU Langone, Brooklyn Family Support Center, our community partners. Those that qualify for our services include single filers with incomes of $59,000 or less in 2023 as well as families with incomes of $85,000 or less in 2023. We make the process as easy and efficient as possible to save our clients time and money!


A Client Story:

Sophia (named changed to protect her confidentiality) traveled to Sunset Park for our free tax prep services for the first time this year. She has often paid over $150 in fees to prepare her taxes, but decided to make an appointment at CFL after learning about the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection’s Free Tax Prep Program from a co-worker. Sophia was so grateful to receive free tax filing assistance from a trusted and certified filer, allowing her to put the money she would have spent on tax filing assistance into her savings and towards a greater financial goal.

A Reflection from a Volunteer:

“I would like to acknowledge the herculean efforts of Victor, from the CFL tax program. He is patient and professional in his dealings with me. What a pro! Most importantly, he cares about the clients. Last Thursday, he graciously handled a multi-year return for an older adult who at times seemed confused. Yesterday, he helped a head-of-house mother who is also a graduate student. Thanks to his hard work, this person may receive an impressive return. It’s a joy coming to the office and working with your staff. They care about the clients and selflessly help them.”

In addition to our VITA Tax Prep Program, we also have a Self-Employed Tax Prep Program (SETP) which offers year-round service for small business owners, gig workers and freelancers. Through this program, we offer free resources including specialized tax prep, workshops and group sessions, one-on-one consultations, toolkits and more! Appointments are available five days per week at our main office and are completely free of charge. These services are essential as self-employed individuals often struggle to keep financial records and file their taxes accurately and on time.

Our VITA and SETP tax teams work hard each day to ensure that individuals in our community are aware of the services that we offer and that they receive the best care possible when working with our staff. We are incredibly grateful to DCWP, the IRS and NYU Langone for funding these programs and are so glad that we can help bring financial resources back to our community!

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January: ActionNYC

Center for Family Life is honored to be one of the ActionNYC providers within the five boroughs, providing free and trusted immigration legal support to immigrant New Yorkers. ActionNYC is administered by the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA), the Department of Social Services/Human Resources Administration (DSS-HRA) and the Research Foundation of the City University of New York. Through ActionNYC, trained legal navigators conduct legal screenings and licensed attorneys provide high-quality legal supports to clients. In addition, navigators make referrals to essential social services that clients may need. Services are provided to New Yorkers regardless of legal status and are offered in any language.

Since the start of the program, we have helped thousands of individuals in Sunset Park and throughout New York City, providing life changing services to individuals and families.

With the influx of new arrivals in New York City beginning in September 2022, the need for free immigration legal services has only increased. To support these new arrivals, our staff provided information sessions at NYC’s Central Navigation Center during the first half of 2023, providing over 100 workshops and serving over 1,000 people. Today, our ActionNYC team continues to screen new arrivals, make referrals and directly assist with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Employment Authorization applications.

Many of the clients we serve through the ActionNYC program have experienced significant trauma and violence and are seeking protection in the U.S. for themselves and their families. We are proud to serve these individuals and families through ActionNYC and a number of other CFL services including a food pantry, public benefits access, employment services, English as a second language classes, immigrant trauma treatment and family counseling. We are thankful that the ActionNYC program exists to protect the rights of immigrants and help them to navigate through complicated and consequential legal processes.

We are delighted to share a recent success story which highlights the importance of ActionNYC and its impact on immigrant families’ lives.

In the late 1990s, Sarai arrived from Guatemala to the U.S. after being a victim of intimate personal violence in her marriage in Guatemala. Since her children’s father worked for the Guatemalan police department, Sarai had no choice but to leave her children behind as she sought safety in the U.S. Once in the U.S., Sarai again fell victim to intimate personal violence from her sibling, who abused her for years as she struggled to gain stability in her life in the U.S. After finding the courage to report her abuse to local authorities, she received help to find shelter and protection. In 2017, Sarai came to CFL for immigration legal help, where we assisted her with filing a petition for a U visa, which provides a pathway to citizenship for victims of violence, as well as two Humanitarian visas for her children who desperately wanted to be reunited with their mother. Sarai’s U visa was finally approved in November 2023 and her children’s Humanitarian visas were approved at the end of last year. Sarai’s family was overjoyed at news of the approvals and cannot wait to be reunited. Our entire ActionNYC team was also overjoyed and one of our Legal Navigator’s, Lois Torres, said Sarai invited the team to go with her to the airport to celebrate the family’s reunion as she is so grateful for all of their help over the years.

*Name changed to protect our client’s confidentiality.

ActionNYC is a critically important program that helps ensure the stability and well-being of immigrant communities in New York and helps provide equal access to legal services. We are proud to be an ActionNYC provider and to support our diverse immigrant community as they face unprecedented challenges.

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December: Holidays in Sunset Park

The holidays are an incredibly special time for family and friends to spend time together and celebrate, strengthening bonds and giving us all the chance to feel loved and appreciated. However, for those who are far from home, who have very limited financial resources even to satisfy basic needs, or who have no stable shelter or holiday gifts or food, the holidays can be a time where what we do not have and what we cannot give our children is especially painful.

This year has been difficult for many children and families in our community, as families with low wage jobs and little job security continue to deal with social, emotional and financial hardships as we move through the post-pandemic recovery. Since September 2022, thousands of new migrants have arrived in New York City. A majority of these families crossed the border with no belongings and are living in shelters or overcrowded apartments. Since these families are already experiencing significant financial constraints, most cannot afford warm clothing this winter, let alone holiday gifts and special meals.

To support our clients this season and to reduce their stress, we reached out to our friends, donors, our Board of Directors and community to help families celebrate the holidays!

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Our Community Services Program and Adult Employment Program have been busy this winter distributing warm clothing to clients. After hearing that many of our clients lack appropriate clothing for the cold, our generous donors and Board of Directors quickly helped us to purchase coats, hats, scarves and gloves to distribute. We are so glad that we can help to keep our community members warm this winter.

Each year, Center for Family Life’s Family Counseling and Adult Employment Programs purchase and accept donated gifts to give to our families in need. These items are delivered to CFL, wrapped and distributed to parents so that parents have gifts and toys to give to their children for the holidays. Thank you to everyone who supported the purchase of these gifts, the children were so excited!

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With your help, children and their families received gifts through our Family Counseling and Adult Employment Programs!


Every holiday season is busy for us here at CFL, especially for those in our food pantry who work extra hard to put together special food packages. In November, in addition to our regular distribution, our food pantry gave out 240 turkeys for families to take home for their Thanksgiving dinners!

We are truly so grateful to everyone who helped make this a joyous holiday season for our clients, we could not do this without your support. We are proud to have such dedicated partners and excited to continue to serve our wonderful community in 2024.

From all of us at Center for Family Life in Sunset Park, warm wishes for a

Happy New Year!