Ana Ortiz

My name is Ana Ortiz, I was born in Puerto Rico and came to America when I was 16. Three years after living in Brooklyn I moved to Ithaca; a gorges home I’ve stayed at for almost 26 years now. I am the founder of No Mas Lagrimas/No More Tears. I’ve worked on almost everything at this point, but my skills lie mostly in event coordination and fundraising for my local communities and organizations. I fight for them because I believe in them — no matter the struggles I face through the process of getting what they deserve. My goal is to help my locals (youth especially) and spread the beautiful language that is culture. My culture, your culture, local and far culture that people are willing to share amongst themselves. 

NML Team

No Mas Lagrimas team includes Carolina Osorio Gil, Fran Manzella, Judy Ward, Coralee McNee, Sharon Tregaskis, Gerardo Veliz Carrillo, Dan Vandam, Lily Gershon, Kate Leboff, Joan Tregaskis, Gladys Laymon, Lucas MacDonald, Gaïa Febvre, and a whole crew of amazing volunteers.

No Mas Lagrimas/ No More Tears History:

Ana Ortiz was born in Puerto Rico and came to America when she was 16. She has lived in Ithaca for almost 26 years and founded No Mas Lagrimas/No More Tears in 2009. Ana has coordinated many community events since then including youth-oriented Latino Festivals and has conducted fundraising for her local community and for many organizations.  She says, “I fight for them because I believe in them — no matter the struggles I face, through the process of getting them what they deserve.” Her goal is to help her fellow community members, (especially young people) and spread the beautiful language that is her culture. “My culture, your culture, local and far culture that people are willing to share amongst themselves.”  In June 2020, NMT’s became an official non-profit and individuals, some who have been informally supporting her throughout the years, joined her team.

While still learning English, Ana decided to try to help people in her community. She often invited friends and neighbors to her house for coffee and food. Ana would always receive everyone with hospitality. When any of her neighbors had a problem with anything, she would talk to them about it, and by the end of the conversation, she often was able to help. She listened and problem-solved with them and more times than not, people were happy at the end of the conversation. Many faced challenges with DSS, Section 8, community agencies or their child’s school, and they would always come to her house and talk about it.

Following a move to Ithaca Public Housing, she asked the administrator if she could cook for the events there and the answer was a resounding yes. Little by little everyone got to know her and her family; she was the person cooking for the community and everyone loved her food. She eventually stopped cooking for events due to complicated circumstances, and little by little she began doing different things for people from her home. She got started having small problem-solving meetings with people who knew her.

Around the time Ana’s eldest son was born, she began to experience domestic violence. It was very hard and she had to leave Ithaca so her children would be safe; she feared that she would be the one who ended up in jail. She felt that every time she cried; tears of blood came streaming from her eyes. She cried every day in private so her kids wouldn’t see her. After that experience, she began thinking “I love my kids and a lot of people in the community need me.” So, one day she said no more and she “wiped my tears” and said “I can do it!” (Thus, the name of her organization, No Mas Lagrimas, No more Tears.) She was very scared to return to Ithaca, however, after she came back, everyone began looking for her. They told her that they needed her and couldn’t trust their children with anyone else. She began doing many different activities from home and thinking of ways to help the community.

She started cooking classes at different schools and combined them with teaching about different Latino cultures. Following that opportunity, she began talking with different agencies and asked them to teach more cultural history and customs for the Latino community. After that she met with a cable company to obtain the Spanish channel for her community and they got it! Little by little people in the community starting to know her. One day she met with Pete Meyers, Executive Director of the Tompkins County Workers Center. He told her that she could be a great community leader, that she had the heart and the extra energy that the community needed. She was doubtful, however, she decided to move forward. Pete helped her get organized and obtain business cards so when people needed her, they would be able to find her.

She then put together a small but diverse team of volunteers and made a banner and an email address. By June 2010 she did her first community event, a Kite celebration. She organized the celebration with a few people in the community and then did her first Latino festival. The first one was called the Puerto Rican Festival, the second-Boricua Afro Latino Festival, and the third one was the Latino Cultural Festival. She also organized a block party on West Hill. She coordinated community leadership training with the Mayor, the fire department and with many community members. She started the community garden at Chestnut Hill Apartments, and a Cinco de Mayo Celebration with Cornell students. She also received a Cornell leadership grant and award.

Due to her personal experience, she has helped many in the community with domestic violence issues. Ana states that her phone is a 24-hour help-line when anyone needs help. She has continued her work with young people, teaching them about Latino culture and team work. She says one of the reasons her phone is always available is to help troubled youth who want to run away; working collaboratively with different organization to help them. She works with families whose members are in jail, especially the children, to help them understand what’s happening and to cope. She was honored to initiate a community appreciation day to recognize and honor people who volunteer in their communities but don’t necessarily get recognition; presenting them with a plaque and serving Latino food at a visible No More Tears community event.

Ana reflects that she has learned over the years that she cannot succeed without a strong team; she understands she can’t do it by herself as she tried to in the beginning. Because she was a victim of domestic violence, she also makes sure that no domestic violence survivor she encounters feels alone; she emphatically states that they can count on her! For years she has been trying to bring the Latino culture to schools and community centers so young people don’t miss out because they live in America. She partnered with Street’s Alive so children had a safe place to play and had the opportunity to sell things and make their own money. Ana, along with her new team of volunteers, continues to collaborate with different organizations in the community, to respond to community needs for food, cleaning supplies, PPD, and other basic items during the Coronavirus Pandemic. She states, “My work in our community is important and I always want to show my community that we can work as team and be loyal to each other.”


Neighbors Helping Neighbors A Mutual Aid Tompkins Community Project article

Women’s Fund Celebration: Women at the Heart of the Pandemic Response

Interview with Ana Oritz by Voces Oral History Center:

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