New executive director stirs the Bronx pot at POTS

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There are some mothers who won’t let you leave the house without a hot meal. Alicia Guevara had a mom who not only fed her own children, but the neighborhood kids too.

Growing up near Fordham Road, Alicia Guevara’s mother filled the tummies of many who were many times without, which taught Guevara the importance of giving to others. Although Guevara no longer lives on this side of the boogie down, her new position as executive director of Part of the Solution, a poverty assistance facility allows her to give back to the community that inspired her.

“Well I’m indigenous to the community, and these are the streets that raised me,” Guevara said. “This isn’t about a job. It’s about a calling to give back to the very community that gave to me.”

Part of the Solution, more commonly known as POTS, is more than a food pantry.

At the 2759 Webster Ave., location, those in need can receive an array of services like showers, legal help, mail, clothes, even a barbershop.

Guevara has worked with non-profits in the past like work force organization Year Up New York and the family legal service Osborne Association, and says she’s always had a passion for community work that promotes both equity and stability for others.

“Being able to see the transformation in each of our clients who we serve at POTS, that is deeply rewarding,” Guevara said. “POTS is the kind of place where our doors are opened to everyone, and we treat you with compassion and dignity.”

Last year, POTS helped nearly 30,000 people in need in the city. Most of the financial support comes from the generous donations of others, while 20 percent is federally funded through government aid.

But it’s more than just the money. The real challenge comes from realizing there always is so much more to be done.

“There are environmental factors we don’t have control over,” Guevara said, like the lack of job and home security in the Bronx and lower income areas.

Guevara grew up around the Fordham/Bedford area. Her family wasn’t wealthy — her mom was a provider relation manager at 1199 National Benefit Fund and her father a mechanic, but they still put food on the table and sought out good schools, giving Guevara a small glimpse into the kinds of opportunity she could access. Guevara went on to attend Columbia University, and today lives with her husband and two children in Riverdale.

“My mom was such a strong woman, and her influence in my upbringing was so ingrained in giving back,” Guevara said. “I think there’s plenty for people to learn. Everyone can make a difference, and it doesn’t need to be huge. Change is possible, and I often think that people think that it might be too overwhelming and that people can’t change, but people can change.”

Local schools are also part of the change. POTS has worked with SAR Academy, for example, for the past 10 years volunteering and helping to serve food to those in need at the facility. Other local schools that have worked with POTS include Manhattan College, Ethical Culture Fieldston and Riverdale Country School.

“We have hundreds and thousands of volunteers, and the students have graciously volunteered with us,” Guevara said. “We are always looking for volunteers. We can’t do this work alone.”

POTS always is looking for donations and volunteers. Food, toiletries, and baby and cleaning products are also always welcome. Those wanting to give or volunteer can visit POTSBronx.org.

With the help of the surrounding neighborhood and through donations, Guevara hopes to shift the social tide for those in need within the community.

“There’s so much work that needs to be done and POTS, is a great way to do it,” Guevara said. Citing the Rev. Edward Murphy, one of the co-founders of POTS, Guevara is always reminded that, “There is no we. There is no them. There is only an us,”

“And that,” she said, “is really the core of what we do at POTS.”

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