Director of Support Programs
TO LEAD A DIGNIFIED LIFE
Fast fact: Torres-Castro’s favorite cartoon growing up? Voltron.
Miguel Torres-Castro spent the first three years of his life in his native Puerto Rico before moving to New York City, where he has spent the majority of his time. Torres-Castro studied music at the University at Buffalo before pivoting toward Caribbean studies, a decision that ultimately lead him to his work with people in the developmental disability community. He first became interested in working in a community-building capacity while studying abroad at the Universidad de La Habana in Cuba. In New York City he continued working in a service capacity, helping immigrants with the cleanup effort after the September 11 attacks and eventually finding his niche as the full-time director of support programs for Mercy Home, a nonprofit agency based in Brooklyn that serves adults, children and families with special needs.
NYN: HOW DID YOU BECOME INTERESTED IN YOUR FIELD?
MTC: I first became interested in working with the community during my time in Cuba. Just seeing how that country operates and just the social and socio-economic strife, so to speak. They were a really tight-knit community, and just seeing that culture really just drove me to being in a sector that gives back to communities and builds communities and builds that strong socio-cultural fabric in a community.
NYN: DESCRIBE AN ACCOMPLISHMENT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
MTC: I’ve been able to incorporate some of my music skills into stage performances with some of the people we work with. It’s kind of cool that I can use all of my skills and weave it, not just into my career, but into the organization that I’m currently working for.
NYN: WHAT CHANGE WOULD MOST HELP THE INDIVIDUALS YOUR ORGANIZATION SERVES?
MTC: The change that would most help the individuals my organization serves is to lead a dignified life that allows and continues to allow growth and the possibility for appropriate training, education, skill-building and meaningful relationships with members of their communities. All of this is possible if we allow the individuals the power to make informed choices with the right guidance and mentoring.
NYN: WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU’D LIKE TO ACCOMPLISH BEFORE YOU RETIRE?
MTC: The one thing I’d like to accomplish before retiring is to utilize my leadership skills at the executive level and lead this or another agency into the future of quality programming for children and adults with developmental disabilities. NYN:
WHAT DO YOU WISH PEOPLE KNEW ABOUT YOUR JOB?
MTC: Working with the developmental disability community has been very rewarding. They’re just so genuine and honest and very friendly individuals. When I’m at work, it almost feels more like I’m hanging out with my friends.