For over 40 years, the Nuestros Ninos Day Care Center on South 4th Street has provided childcare services to North Brooklyn. For his continued service to the community, its founder will be honored Saturday at the center’s main offices, with a street being named after him.
John Mulhern founded the center at its South 4th Street location in 1973 after seeing a growing need on the part of young women and families looking for childcare for their babies – especially low-income families where both parents were working to make ends meet.
Mulhern got his start in neighborhood activism in 1964 when he began working at the Transfiguration Roman Catholic Church on Marcy Avenue in Williamsburg.
It’s his work there that inspired him to open a day care center almost 10 years later.
“My work at the Church brought me in contact with young women, a number of whom were looking for help to care of their children,” said Mulhern. “While the primary concern for women seemed to be childcare, the major concern for men at the time was finding housing for their families.”
That concern led to the 1972 establishment of Los Sures, an organization that works to protect affordable housing for low-income residents of Williamsburg, created in part by one of Mulhern’s colleagues at the Transfiguration Church. A year later Mulhern opened Nuestros Ninos.
Mulhern’s tenure covered the expansion of the center from its main office on South 4th Street to other centers just a few blocks apart in the same neighborhood. The program started off with just 200 students back in the 1970s, and that number has grown to almost 800 today, according to Mulhern.
Miriam Cruz, who began working at Nuestros Ninos just a year after it opened, made her way through the ranks at the organization before she assumed the executive position in the early 2000s. She said that Mulhern’s work had been critical to the smooth functioning of the organization today.
Saturday’s ceremony will officially recognize the street outside the daycare center on South 4th Street as John Mulhern Way. Celebrations will include performances by the El Puente Dance Ensemble and words of encouragement by members of Nuestros Ninos and local electeds like Antonio Reynoso.
John Mulhern Way Inauguration, 384 South 4th Street, June 7, 1-5 p.m.