March is Women’s History Month. It is also National Social Work Month. WellLife is proud of all of our staff, but we pay special tribute to our social workers who help the people who come to our doors solve and cope with problems in their everyday lives. WellLife’s team of social workers confront some of the most challenging issues facing communities and society and forge solutions that help people reach their full potential.

 

To honor National Women’s History Month and National Social Work Month, we reflect on the life of Dr. Antonia Pantoja, a Latina social worker who, prior to her passing in 2012, was regarded as one of the most important leaders in the United States.

 

Antonia Pantoja was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1922. She moved to New York City in 1944 where she studied sociology at Hunter College before obtaining her master’s degree from the Columbia University School of Social Work. In 1973, she received a Ph.D. from Union Graduate School. Shortly after, she joined the faculty of the School of Social Work at San Diego State University where she founded the Graduate School of Community Development, an institution that serves communities and neighborhoods throughout the nation.

 

During her career, Dr. Pantoja was involved in a variety of community and professional organizations, all working toward the goal of building stronger communities for marginalized people. These included the Ford Foundation, the National Urban Coalition, the Museo del Barrio, the National Association of Social Workers, the Council on Social Work Education, to name a few. 

 

Dr. Pantoja was a charismatic and visionary leader. In 1997 she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, from President Clinton during a ceremony at the White House. In his speech, President Clinton praised her work as founder of ASPIRA, an organization that promotes cultural pride, education, leadership training and community service for Latino youth. He also recognized her role in founding the National Puerto Rico Forum and Boricua College.

 

“Peace and respect – these are the values that define the work of Antonia Pantoja” Clinton said in presenting the award. “Her contributions to her people and, therefore, our country are unsurpassed,” he added, calling Pantoja “the most respected and loved member of the Puerto Rican community.” “The impact of her work and her contributions to our community has had reverberations so profound and so broad that for generations to come, she will continue to be an inspiration for young Puerto Ricans,” declared then NASW Executive Director Josephine Nieves at a reception following the presentation.

 

We thank Dr. Pantoja who serves as an inspiration and all of WellLife’s social workers for the outstanding job they perform each and every day to help individuals and families achieve their life’s goals of health and wellness for life.

World Day of Social Justice World Day of Social Justice is observed every year on February 20 to encourage people to see how social justice affects poverty eradication. The main aim of this day is to achieve full employment and support for social integration. This day tackle issues like poverty, exclusion, and unemployment.

 

Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history. President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976, calling upon the public to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month and endorsed a specific theme. The Black History Month 2021 theme, “Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity” explores the African diaspora, and the spread of Black families across the United States.

Since our inception, WellLife Network has been a beacon of hope for New Yorkers in need, empowering individuals and families with diverse needs to realize their full potential for achieving independence, health, and wellness. As we reflect of on the events of 2020, two things are clear: 1) Our team of dedicated, resourceful, and compassionate individuals is capable of overcoming any challenge that confronts them; and 2) Our programs have never been more important to the people we serve.

 

WellLife Network emerged from 2020 stronger and better equipped to achieve its mission. The dedication of our team has allowed us to respond to dire straits that people in our communities are facing. Highlights of our impact include:

 

  • 1,175 New Yorkers were supported in maintaining a warm, nurturing environment to call home who through WellLife Network Behavioral Health Residential Services.
  • 707 individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities received residential, family support, day and community habilitation and entitlement and eligibility services.
  • 454 families coping with children with serious mental health issues were strengthened and moved from crisis to stability.
  • 5,500 packages of food where provide to individuals and families affected by COVID.

 

These numbers are only part of the story. In addition to the thousands of lives we directly touch, the impact of our work is felt by their family, friends, and the communities at large. Now, as we enter year two of a global pandemic, the people we serve need us more than ever.

 

Turning the Corner on COVID-19

 

It is a new year, and hope is on the horizon. The advent of two highly effective COVID vaccines brings promise of turning the tides on this life-altering virus. With the flood of conflicting information, however, anxiety about the vaccine is unavoidable.

Acceptance of vaccines is our first step toward putting the devastation of COVID-19 behind us and getting on path toward recovery. We understand that this is an uphill battle for many, and are committed to being a leader in dispelling myths and helping our community better understand that true nature of this vaccine. It is only through open and honest communication that our staff and clients will be able to make an informed decision, based on fact, about taking the vaccine.

 

 

The Great American Smokeout® Day.

Join millions of other smokers and do not smoke for the day. Support your friends and family who are trying to quit smoking. #GreatAmericanSmokeout 

For more information visit https://www.cancer.org/smokeout 

 

WellLife Network earned a 2020 Top Workplaces honor from Newsday in the mid-sized company category of Long Island health care providers. The award is based solely on employee feedback gathered through a third-party survey administered by research partner Energage, LLC, a leading provider of technology-based employee engagement tools. The anonymous survey measures several aspects, including workplace culture, alignment, execution, and connection."

 

WellLife Network Supports A Culture of Employee Engagement

Top Workplaces is more than just recognition," said Eric Rubino, CEO of Energage. "Our research shows organizations that earn the award attract better talent, experience lower turnover, and are better equipped to deliver bottom-line results. Their leaders prioritize and carefully craft a healthy workplace culture that supports employee engagement."

 

"Earning the Top Workplace award makes everyone at WellLife very proud.," said Sherry Tucker, CEO, WellLife Network. "We are so gratified that this top honor is the result of our Long Island employee’s opinions about our workplace culture. During the extreme challenges of COVID-19, our staff members continue to provide high quality, compassionate, and person-centered services.”

 

One staff member said, “Working for WellLife Network is like working for an extended family. The management takes a true interest in its staff. They are ethical, respectful, and appreciative of our hard work and commitment."

 

Investment in Staff Makes the Difference

WellLife Network stands out as a company that builds a culture of caring, commitment, and extraordinary generosity towards its employees and the broader community. Ratings also took into account WellLife Network's employee benefits, community involvement, caring relationships among staff, exceptional investment in employee development, encouragement of work/life balance, innovative leadership initiatives, family-friendly options, special programs recognizing veterans, and more. 

 

"We are committed to continuing our investment in staff, their training, and well being," said Aldkida Jones, Vice President of Human Resources. "WellLife Network is a great place to work and develop a career. We  foster caring relationships among people and that helps us to be more effective in changing the lives of the more than 25,000 individuals and families we serve each year."

 

About WellLife Network

WellLife Network, a health and human services non-profit, offers its broad array of services throughout New York City and Long Island. It provides services to adults and children with mental illness and intellectual/ developmental disabilities; counsels and coordinates services for children recovering from sexual trauma and mental health challenges; offers substance use recovery and prevention services, and trains and finds employment opportunities for individuals seeking to reenter the workforce. WellLife Network is also one of the largest regional providers of residential services in New York.

 

About Energage, LLC
Headquartered in Exton, Pa., Energage is a leading provider of technology-based employee engagement tools that help leaders to unlock potential, inspire performance, and achieve amazing results within their organizations. The research partner behind the Top Workplaces program, Energage has surveyed more than 47,000 organizations representing well over 16 million employees in the United States.

Help us spread prevention messages to youth, families and communities across the state. Prevention messaging is especially important in our continued efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic. #RedRibbonWeek #NYGoesRed.

 

 

It’s official, WellLife Network broke ground on its 66 apartment Cypress Avenue mixed-use apartment complex. Participating in the groundbreaking ceremony – (L-R) From L. Riso & Sons, Co. Inc - Craig Elka, Field Superintendent and Manny Papadopoulos, Project Manager; Monica Lopez, Monica Lopez Architect, LLC; James Riso, Vice President, L. Riso & Sons, Co. Inc; representing CSD Housing, LLC – Mike Dehmler, Managing Member, and Michael Newman, Director of Program Development; representing WellLife Network – Sherry Tucker, CEO; Alan M. Weinstock, former CEO; Steve Bernstein, WellLife Network Board Member; Dianne Camelo, Esq., Partner, Levy, Stopol & Camelo, LLC; from WellLife Network – Andrew Carbonara, VP, General Services; Ray Morell, Director, Facilities Mgmt.; Ken Cummings, Facilities Manager; Karen Gorman, VP, Property Mgmt. and New Program Development; Crystal John, VP, Behavioral Health Residential Services; Lori Alameda, CFO; Willie Scott, VP, Public Affairs, and Jianwei Chen, Sr. Controller.  

WellLife Network Breaks Ground on 66 Unit Mixed-Use Apartment Complex in Queens

On September 15, 2020, WellLife Network broke ground on its Cypress Avenue mixed-use housing apartment complex. This complex features 66 apartments, 40 of which will be used to offer safe and secure housing for members of the community with special needs. Twenty-six apartments will provide housing for low-income individuals or families. This life-changing initiative will target New York’s most vulnerable citizens in need of supportive housing. The complex will feature a rooftop garden, forest-like landscaping, a communal event room, an exercise facility, and a high-tech laundromat.

WellLife Network Awarded 15/15 Rental and Tax Credit Assistance

WellLife Network’s Cypress Avenue Supportive Housing Project has been awarded more than $754,000 from the NYC Human Resources Administration through its 15/15 Rental Assistance program. This project offers a rental subsidy to provide rental assistance to eligible households living in units awarded social service funding through HRA. WellLife Network was also awarded a 9% tax credit reservation agreement from the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD). The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program provides a dollar-for-dollar reduction in federal income tax liability for investors in rental housing that serves very low-income and low-income households.

Sherry Tucker, CEO WellLife Network stated, “The Cypress mixed-use housing complex will add value to this neighborhood while providing residents with beautiful apartments for themselves and their families. The timeless design of the structure will fit seamlessly into the site and become an integral part of the fabric of the neighborhood.

WellLife Network’s Cypress Avenue housing complex offers 66 mixed-use residences that provides affordable housing, in a park-like setting, for individuals with low income and special needs. Architectural rendering courtesy - Urban Architectural Initiatives, RA, PC

Partnerships Make It Happen

This building will become a reality through a joint partnership among state and city supporters. Funding for this project was made possible through New York City and The Richman Group. WellLife Network is proud to partner with CSD Housing, LLC, a leader in building affordable housing communities. The design of this very contemporary structure was created by Urban Architectural Initiatives, RA, PC (UAI), in conjunction with Monica Lopez Architect, LLC and contracted by L. Riso & Sons Co., Inc.

For More Information

Visit us: www.WellLifeNetwork.org or call our Resource and Referral line: 866.727.WELL or 866.727.9355

WellLife Network programs are licensed and approved for service by numerous governmental organizations, including the New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH), the New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), and the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS). On Long Island, we work in partnership with United Way.

 

Champawattie Dhanasar works at Grand Central IRA residence giving her all to the nine people who live there.

WellLife Network Recognizes and Thanks

its Amazing Direct Support Professionals

 

This year Direct Support Professional Recognition Week is celebrated September 13-19th. WellLife Network believes it is a great opportunity to highlight the dedicated, innovative direct support workforce that is the heart and soul of supports for people with disabilities. This year brought new challenges because of COVID-19. Our direct support professionals displayed their commitment to the people they serve and became our Superheroes in keeping all safe and healthy.  

 

WellLife Network thanks its Direct Support Professionals (DSP) for their expertise and dedication. Our more than 600 DSP staff offer a wide range of quality and compassionate services each and every day to support individuals with special needs, so that they may enjoy a more independent and enriched life.

To the individuals under our care, you are a friend, caregiver, life coach and teacher – someone who is always there to be compassionate, responsible and a lifelong advocate. We respect your work and profession and take this opportunity to recognize you for the immeasurable difference you make each and every day in the lives of people in your care.

 

On behalf of our Board of Directors, and all of us at WellLife Network, thank you for your commitment to the vital work you perform each day. 

 

Sherry Tucker

CEO

 

Nadia Hrvatin

VP I/DD Svcs.

 

Crystal John

VP BH Residential Svcs.

WellLife Network Recognizes
National Suicide Prevention Week
September 6-12, 2020

 

Suicide Prevention is everyone’s business and the designated week this month is a unique opportunity for every individual and organization to bring awareness to this life-saving mission. Nationally as well as the local level we are asked to consider the MESSAGE that we are all in it together and are partners in preventing the TRAGIC LOSS of LIVES which also affects as survivors so many in our communities.

 

Many resources are available to you and your organization in the form of public information and education material that can be publicized on your websites, at your physical locations, and otherwise electronically. The wealth of information awaits your interest for distribution. Trainings are also available to be scheduled. Become part of the WellLife Network Team in this mission. We invite your input and participation by contacting us for the many ways that you and your organization can make a difference in PREVENTING SUICIDES.

 

For further information and discussion regarding how you can make a difference please contact:

max.banilivy@welllifenetwork.org

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