Message From Executive Director
New York City Mission Society's motto - "Changing Lives Since 1812" - has great resonance for me. It speaks to the fact that we have been helping those in need longer than any other human services organization in New York City. It also makes me conscious of the great responsibility that those of us at Mission Society have today in honoring and perpetuating the organization's legacy.
105 East 22nd Street New York, NY 10010-5494 (212) 674-3500 FAX (212) 979-5764
For 190 years, New York City Mission Society has been a force for positive change in the lives of New Yorkers in need.
In 1812, New York City was in the midst of a severe economic crisis. Newly arrived immigrants faced an uncertain future: disease was rampant, medical science limited, and poverty widespread. New York City Mission Society (then called The New York Religious Tract Society) was formed in an effort to inspire hope in the masses that flooded the City. At the time, the organization's mission was to provide Christian tracts to every New Yorker willing to receive them.
Working in low-income communities, Mission Society became intimately acquainted with the face of poverty and suffering. In response, it provided relief in the form of food, clothing, schooling, and access to health care to people in need. Its early efforts to attend to the physical and material needs of the poor led to the development of the Association for Improving the Conditions of the Poor (AICP), a "spin-off" organization that ultimately evolved into today's Community Service Society, one of NY's prominent human service providers.
In the second half of the 1800's, Mission Society established its reputation as an innovator in the human services field. It created ward libraries that were a forerunner to New York City's public library system in the 1850's. Soon thereafter, it started financing trips to the countryside for the urban poor that provided a model for the Fresh Air Fund, which was launched in 1877 with the strong participation of Mission Society's leadership. Other examples of our pioneering programming in the late 1800's included the development of an employment agency for women and children and the establishment of a visiting nurse service in lower Manhattan.