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Biography of Michael Nunez

Boroughwide News

November 21, 2002

AGUILA dedicates homeless shelter to activist Michael Nunez
by Andrew Ragouzeos

Community Activist Michael Nunez at an awards ceremony in which AGUILA dedicated a homeless shelter, 917 Eagle Avenue, in his name. - PHOTO BY ANDREW RAGOUZEOS

South Bronx community activist Michael Nunez was recently honored by service outreach group AGUILA Inc., who dedicated a new shelter in his name. The 917 Eagle Avenue building, which now houses 15 apartments for homeless women and children, was officially dubbed "Mike’s House" at an October 29 tribute.

"This was to honor all of his hard work. Michael is not one for self-praise, so we had to surprise him with this honor," said AGUILA director Basilio Vega.

Hard work has been the earmark of Nunez’ career, which began after he returned to the Bronx after serving in the Korean War. "I was working as a technician at an electronics plant," he said.

"I was working with all these wires and flashing lights and I realized that I get much more of a charge from helping people. When you see that smile, and get that thank you, there’s nothing better than that."

After returning to school and receiving a Master’s degree in Community Economic Development, Nunez began working for the South Bronx Neighborhood Orientation Center in 1964, improving residential buildings and rehabilitating substance abusers.

In the years that followed, he ran several Hunts-Point based economic and employment programs. Since 1991, Nunez has served as director of the Puerto Rican Home Attendants Services, as well as the president of the South Bronx Board of Trade.

"I admire his leadership. He believes in sharing, and he has a generous personality. He is so active. I hope I am as active as he is when I get to his age," said his assistant for 14 years, Lizette Santana.

Nunez said he is humbled by praise, and that he feels a sense of true accomplishment when he looks back on his career of public service.

"I’ve been at this since the early ‘60s. I’ve seen the Bronx in its heyday and through its low period to now coming back in the last few years," he said, continuing that his dream is to continue working because of the drastic need to help people who are still being put out on the streets. Currently he is making plans with AGUILA to build additional shelters in the South Bronx.

He said he sees no end in sight for his career. "If I stop, I think I’ll die. I’ll always be volunteering or being of some type of service. I have to."

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