Neighborhood Interfaith Movement closes after more than 40 years of operation

A longstanding and beloved Mt. Airy-based nonprofit has shut its doors.

After more than 40 years, the Neighborhood Interfaith Movement has closed its office and ceased operations in Northwest Philadelphia and beyond.

John Wright, who chairs NIM’s board, told NewsWorks that the organization filed for bankruptcy Thursday and notified staff members “immediately thereafter.”

A total of 14 full-time and part-time staffers lost their jobs as a result of the filing.

“The whole situation is beyond sad,” said Wright in a phone interview Friday. “It’s really hard to see it go down like this and see people get hurt in the process.”

Wright, who has sat on NIM’s board for the past five years, would not discuss specific details surrounding the closure, citing instead the challenging funding landscape currently facing most nonprofits across the country.

“It’s a very, very difficult and hard thing to do, but reality has just made it impossible for it to continue,” he said.

A ‘stabilizing’ organization

NIM, formerly known as the Northwest Interfaith Movement, “promotes vibrant, healthy neighborhoods in Philadelphia by uniting faith, business, civic and community partners with neighbors to advocate for social justice and to serve people in need,” according to its website.

Over the years, NIM launched a number of programs aimed at helping those in need.

The Early Learning Alliance focused on improving child care by providing job training for child care providers and parent education.

NIM’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program worked with long-term care facilities to ensure that residents received proper care.

More than 50 congregations and faith-based organizations were part of the NIM family.

“NIM has played one of the stabilizing roles in Northwest Philadelphia as a place that people trusted and turned to for advice and assistance,” said George Stern, who headed NIM for a decade. “It was bringing congregations together, but that really brought the community together.”

A surprise to some

To operate, NIM relied on a combination of state and city funds, grants from foundations and contributions from its member congregations and individuals.

Competition over funding from large foundations has increased as the economy continues to rebound.

At the end of July, following an exhaustive search, Jane Maloney was hired as NIM’s new executive director. Her first day on the job was Sept. 10.

Wright said the severity of the organization’s financial woes were not clear until after Maloney accepted the position.

 “A lot of the final stuff happened after she agreed to come on board,” he said.

Maloney did not immediately return a call for comment.

Stern, Maloney’s predecessor, said he was “shocked” when he learned NIM was closing. He noted that the organization was “doing better than a lot of nonprofits” when he left the post in September 2011.

“We were relatively stable,” said Stern. “I never would have anticipated this.”

Ken Weinstein, who owns NIM’s building at 7047 Germantown Ave., was equally surprised when he got word Thursday evening.

Since purchasing the building seven years ago, Weinstein said the organization has always paid the rent on time and has never missed a payment.

“I wish I was given more notice,” he said. “They must have known before yesterday that this was going to happen.”

As he searches for a new tenant, Weinstein said he hopes NIM’s employees are able to find work. “I feel for them,” he said.

Said Stern: “It’s going to leave a hole in the texture of the community.”

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