SolutionsNOW: New Designer Led Non-Profit Addresses Injustice & Supports Underserved Harlem Community
Designer Erin Ruby teamed up with Congressional candidate Richard Haberhsam to create SolutionsNOW, a non-profit dedicated to addressing deep-seated systems of injustice by providing immediate support to local underserved NYC communities, seniors and individuals experiencing food, housing and economic insecurity.
Working to solve everyday problems that get overlooked in real time, they have collaborated with local restaurants and design industry partners with available trucks to ultimately feed over 60K people (and counting) in need during this pandemic.
Even before the pandemic they were brainstorming ways to provide equitable services to residents of their district. Frustrated with deep-seated systems of injustice and overly bureaucratic processes, their work focuses on restoring power and agency to where it belongs: in the hands of the people and the community.
SolutionsNOW Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Their mission is to provide immediate support to local underserved communities, seniors and individuals experiencing food, housing and economic insecurity. Their organization acts as a connector – or broker – between the issues they see affecting their community and the solutions they need in the moment.
SolutionsNOW is hyperlocal and embedded in Upper Manhattan for a reason. Why? Because they live there. Because they know their community. And because they believe it is where they can have the biggest impact.
About Co-Founder Richard Habersham
Richard is a multi-faceted leader with a distinguished record as an educator, journalist, activist and businessman. He holds a masters degree from Columbia University’s School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation. Having grown up and lived his whole life in affordable housing in his native Harlem, Richard is an advocate for local residents who are being exploited and priced out of their homes in a rapidly gentrifying district.
He established and ran a corporate diversity program for a New York headquartered leadership development firm, founded by his mentor John Wareham. Wareham also created the Eagles Foundation and the Taking Wings self-development program for inmates and at-risk youth in the state prison system. As President of the Eagles Foundation, Richard’s work in prisons defined his perspective about what really matters in life.
About Co-Founder Erin Ruby
Erin is a leader in her field with an expansive career in Commercial Design & Architecture. As owner of her own multi-disciplinary practice, she develops branded business interiors and consults with manufacturers on product strategy and development.
A family background of service to community and social justice led her to complete the Pathways To Equity training program offered through Open Architecture Collaborative. Considered a boot camp for community engagement, the program brings designers and activists together to foster social equity and drive community partnerships. The program teaches inclusionary methods and proactive processes such as active listening, engaged research, intensive self-reflection, restorative justice, trauma-informed practices, and responsive iteration towards social impact design.
The ability to mobilize at a moment’s notice is what makes solutionsNOW different. Their reach is broad and shallow (in a good way). They do not solve the root cause of an issue, but they can take care of an immediate need. They can’t solve world hunger – but they can get you a meal today. They can’t eradicate homelessness – but they can find you shelter for the night. They can’t cure COVID – but they can arm you with PPE. At the heart of what they do is an innate desire to help their community and a belief that each of us has the power to shape change. They believe each small step adds up to real positive impact. Rather than be overwhelmed by the scope of the problems that plague us, they hone in on the next right step.