Marvin started out as a street vendor in New Jersey, trying to make ends meet and provide for his family. Read More
Amanda and Ivan
Ivan Diaz and Amanda Custodio were among the original 46 young adults moving into Louis Nine House (LNH). Read More
MarvinMarvin singing at Rock Against Homelessness
Marvin started out as a street vendor in New Jersey, trying to make ends meet and provide for his family. He had a substance abuse problem and a wife and stepdaughter who abused alcohol. It was a toxic household. One terrifying night Marvin came home, and his wife and stepdaughter attacked him with a hammer. He escaped with his life, but not much else. With nowhere to go and no one to turn to, Marvin spent the night in an abandoned building, making his way to the streets of Manhattan the next day. That was the beginning of a new chapter.
Marvin went from the streets, to the Bellevue Shelter, and from there to the NCS supportive housing residence on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Marvin loved the state of the art kitchen where residents cook and share meals, play bingo and have high tea with volunteers and each other. He liked the sense of community that the volunteers provided and said “it felt good being with other people”. He began to take full advantage of the services offered: financial counseling, computer training, housing services and career counseling.
As Marvin's life started to come together, he began taking on greater roles both at the Residence and in the NCS community. He worked with his housemate Gregg to spruce up the communal bathroom, serving as a positive role model for the other residents. Marvin sang at the Rock Against Homelessness concert in Central Park, was featured in several NCS newsletters and spoke about his experiences at our 2014 Spring Benefit. He feels that his most meaningful involvement was mentoring other men and women at NCS programs like Chance for Change (NCS's outpatient substance abuse program). He believes it's important for him to help others because so many people helped him, including NCS staff. He said, "They believed in me before I believed in myself and gave me some valuable tools to help me through my journey."
Marvin's journey led him to a paid part-time job at Chance for Change. He continued to seek employment and came to the attention of NCS board member Brinton Parson, who is the director of the Park Avenue Methodist Day School. Brinton helped Marvin get a job at the school, where he has found a home. Marvin says, "It took a lot of hard work and support, but my life keeps getter better and better, including my move to my own apartment in Harlem." Though living on his own, Marvin still utilizes vocational services at NCS and remains closely connected to many of the friends he has made at NCS.
Amanda and Ivan
Five years ago, Ivan Diaz and Amanda Custodio were among the original 46 young adults moving into Louis Nine House (LNH), our supportive housing in the Bronx for youth aging out of foster care. They both received NCS Scholarships to pursue their studies. These scholarships, funded by a generous NCS donor, are giving young people like Ivan and Amanda an opportunity to fulfill their dreams and transform their lives.
Ivan always liked the idea of helping people and saving lives and knew he wanted to be an EMT. He studied, passed the test and became a certified EMT. Once working, Ivan enrolled in college and received an NCS Scholarship that recognized his progress towards personal, educational, and career goals. A short time later, Ivan was accepted into the elite FDNY EMT program - his dream come true! He had to take time off from school for a special FDNY training program, but Ivan's NCS Scholarship will be there for him on his planned return to college.
Amanda's background is fraught with trauma, abuse, and incarceration. She overcame tremendous obstacles and became the first LNH tenant to earn an Associate's degree. Like Ivan, Amanda's NCS Scholarship is also there for her continuing education. A Dean's List student at Lehman College, where she is pursuing a Bachelor's degree, Amanda wants to work with youth in the prison system after graduation.
Both Ivan and Amanda stay connected to NCS through our OPTIONS program, an educational and job-training program available to all NCS clients. We are very proud of their achievements and wish them all the best in their very bright futures!