"Good Afternoon, NSC"
If you've called NSC, you've probably heard Ana Ortiz's voice saying, "Good afternoon, NSC."
Ana Ortiz has been the receptionist at NSC for 21 years. For many clients, Ana's welcoming presence is their first point of contact as they walk through our doors within weeks, days, or even hours of their arrival to the United States. For the staff, Ana serves a vital function on the day-to-day operations. As many say, "Ana runs the show." So much so that Ana couldn't stop her work to be interviewed for this feature. She answered questions between phone calls, and in quiet moments when she wasn't assisting clients that waited for their appointments in our lobby.
"I love my job," Ana shares, oozing sincerity. "I love helping immigrants."
Although not an immigrant herself, Ana deeply empathizes with the immigrants and refugees that walk through our doors. She is no stranger to feeling homesick and lost. Originally from Ponce, Puerto Rico, Ana relocated to the New York area with her family at the age of eight when her mother needed medical and familial care with an older sister that lived in the Bronx. Ana remembers going to school without knowing English, crying often out of homesickness. She began to feel more confident and at home in New York with the help of a friend and classmate that taught her English as Ana taught her Spanish. After 5 years in New York, Ana’s family moved to Philadelphia, where they have been ever since.
In some ways, Ana's life has come full circle. Through her work, she helps others in transition in the same way that she depended on her childhood friend so many years ago. Even when she is outside of the office, Ana finds herself connecting immigrants to services when she overhears a conversation in the street. Her daughter, who is a teacher, often asks Ana for advice and referrals for the immigrant students that may need assistance.
Apart from the work and services, Ana loves that NSC feels like her diverse, extended family. Ana has deep relationships with staff in every department, from Legal to Development to Health and Wellness and Education.
Ana has been with NSC through many changes and growing pains since 1997, and says she has watched the organization grow stronger with every challenge, including in the past year in response to the election. In reflecting over the years, she notes,“There have been a lot of changes, but for the good. We are stronger. We are a good organization, we do a lot.”
So much of what we do starts with Ana’s hard work and compassion, and we are so grateful.