What started as a rainy day in queens ended up being our brightest one yet, on June 17th WellLife Network partnered with Paramount Co. volunteers to create a mural at our Astoria DayHab location in Queens.

 

 

“Project Volunteer” is a springtime initiative spearheaded by CEO, Sherry Tucker, focused on beautifying WellLife outdoor program space and residential facilities by bringing in volunteers from around the company to plant flowers and vegetable gardens in addition to building outdoor furniture for our individuals and staff to enjoy these new and improved green spaces. 

 

Paramount Co., one of the world's leading producers of premium entertainment content, joined us for their Volunteer Day sending 22 volunteers to our Astoria location and 8 to our Lennox location. Volunteers and staff used 40 gallons of paint to cover 122 feet of outdoor wall space for the first phase of the mural. WellLife is grateful to have partners such as Paramount Co. to assist with making these ambitious projects a reality.  

 

 

 

It was 9am when my co-worker and I arrived, the building was already being worked on, cleaned, and last of the furniture set up. The 66-unit mixed-use apartment, situated on Cypress Ave, was being set-up with the care and supervision of the WellLife CEO Sherry Tucker. 40 units are identified as supportive housing for individuals with mental health challenges while the remaining 26 will be offered to low income families. The idea for the housing complex has been in the works since 2004 when the property was purchased by WellLife Network with the intent to turn it into 18-unit building to house individuals with mental health challenges. Unfortunately, throughout the years many delays hindered progress for the project. Initially, issues with the design aided to a 10-12-year hold where the building was essentially just a shell, but after much negotiation with HUD (US Department of Housing and Urban Development) the building was released to WellLife.

 

Fortunately, with tax law and regulation changes, a bigger building was allowed to be built and the plans for an 18-unit building were scratched, in its place was a 66 mixed-used apartment building. Thus, after delays and multiple COVID-19 setbacks the building has been finished. “We have four families and individuals ready to move in we just need one more inspection from HPD,” said Sherry Tucker, “we are hoping they move in shortly after the ribbon cutting.”

 

With the recent housing market surge and a ridiculously high rent median it is evident that New York is suffering from a housing crisis. Many residents have left the big apple to seek residency elsewhere and those who have stayed have taken on even more roommates to alleviate the pressure of the rent. In recent years, homelessness in NYC has reached its highest levels since the Great Depression, in fact, according to Coalition for the Homeless there was a recorded number of 48,524 homeless people in city shelters; studies show that the primary cause for homelessness is lack of affordable housing. WellLife’s housing complex provides relief for many individuals and low-income families that struggling to stay afloat. By providing housing we can address the housing crisis and strive to create communities that are accessible to those who struggle daily.

 

“The biggest challenge going forward will be to make sure that we have a variety of support that is needed to comply with the different blend of individuals and families,” said Sherry after being asked about the challenges moving forward. The Cypress residency received 26,000 number of applicants for 26 community units.

 

“I think it’s just beautiful how it turned out, it really exceeded our expectations in terms of just the quality,” the excited CEO said, “it is affordable housing but the quality of the building makes it feel more like a higher end building.”

 

 

 

 

WellLife Network is proud to celebrate our LGBTQIA+ community. We strive to be a place for all to express and connect with their most authentic self. We encourage you to read this amazing resource guide put together by our Learning and Development Specialist, Danielle Viscosi (she/her).

 

Why is it called Pride Month?

Brenda Howard, a bisexual woman, and staunch advocate began to use the term ‘Pride’ after the Stonewall Riots. At that time, people were regularly jailed for “homosexual activity”, sent to mental institutions to "cure" their sexuality, and shunned by their families, jobs, and communities for coming out. In many ways, Stonewall was not a celebration, (like many contemporary Pride events), but a revolt against oppressive laws and stifling societal values — a revolt that encouraged the LGBTQIA+ community to speak up proudly instead of hiding.

 

 

 How to be a LGBTQIA+ ally

 

• Let LGBTQIA+ people lead.

• Check your privilege.

• Confront your own prejudices and bias, even if it is uncomfortable to do so.

• Be a listener.

• Be open-minded.

• Be willing to talk.

• Continue to educate yourself and others around you.

• Read up on the myriad of issues related to the LGBTQIA+ community and see if there is anything you can do to support or help.

• Dispel myths you have related to being LGBTQIA+.

• Provide direct mutual aid to LGBTQIA+ people in need.

• Use gender neutral and inclusive language.

• Use the correct pronouns (we all have pronouns).

• Add your pronouns to your work e-mail signature.

• Stand up for LGBTQIA+ people when they are not around.

• Defend LGBTQIA+ people against discrimination.

• Be inclusive and treat your LGBTQIA+ friends or family the same as anyone else.

• Never use a transgender person’s deadname or old pronouns.

• Do not ask offensive questions about a person’s sex life or genitalia.

• Do not expect to be rewarded for being a good ally.

• Do not assume a person’s gender, pronouns, or sexual orientation.

• Do not joke about the LGBTQIA+ community, or use slurs related to being gay or trans.

• Believe that all people, regardless of gender identity and sexual orientation, should be treated with dignity and respect.

 

Educational Resources

What does LGBTQIA+ mean?

What does Two Spirits mean?

What is the difference between gender identity, gender expression, anatomical sex, and sexual orientation?

 

Further Reading

The Hirschfeld Archives: Violence, Death, and Modern Queer Culture (free PDF)

Transgender History by Susan Stryker

A Queer History of the United States by Michael Bronski

2021 LGBTQ+ Guide of Services and Resources

Access to healthy food is a cornerstone for wellness. According to Feeding American, 1 in 9 people struggle with food insecurity. Typically, food insecurity goes hand-in-hand with housing insecurity; many families are faced with the choice of either eating or losing their home. The US manufactures enough food to feed 10 billion people, the US alone has a population around 330 million, according the US Census. Some state laws mandate supermarkets to throw out their unbought food.

 

In addition, big chain supermarkets are known to throw away their food when they are one day past due regardless of if it the food is actually spoiled or not. In fact, each year 108 billion pounds of food is wasted in the US and nearly 40% of all food in the country is thrown out. While there are programs that help people with food insecurity, such as SNAP, better known as “food stamps,” or TEFAP or WIC, not everyone qualifies. There are also known food pantries, like FoodBank of NY, or churches that donate food to people with low income, however some of those places only donate monthly.

 

Understanding the basics of healthy cooking can making shopping much easier and help you stretch out that dollar. So, what makes up a “healthy meal”? A balance of protein, carbs, fiber, and fats. Making a healthy meal for under $20 that feeds a family of 4 may not seem like a challenge. However, with the incoming recession, inflation, price gouging, and food shortages, it is easy to see why people around the US are struggling. Another factor to consider is the cost of living for NYC, a loaf of bread could cost $4 in Queens and $8 in Manhattan. With all this in mind, I have set out to make a healthy meal for 4 for under $20 and teach you how you can do the same. The protein lies in the black beans and the beef, brown rice for complex carbs and tomatoes and kale for fiber. The 16oz pack of rice could 6 people if rationed correctly and you can even use half the can of beans.

 

What you will need:

 

$1.99- 1 bunch of kale

$1.42- 1 can of black beans (15.5 oz)

$1.29- 1 can of diced tomatoes (14.5 oz)

$4.44- Small pack of ground meat (I bought 0.89lb)

$1.59- 16 oz pack of brown rice (I got the brand GOYA, but you can get whichever you have access to)

*$1.50- If you are vegan/vegetarian you can replace the ground beef with a bell pepper
= $10.73 with ground meat

=$7.79 with bell pepper instead

=$12.23 with both

 

Prep the rice: Rinse the rice to clean away any excess starch. Grab a strainer and rinse under cold water until the water runs clear. For most types of rice, you'll always use a ratio of 1 cup rice to 2 cups water. First, bring the water to a boil. Then stir in rice and salt, you can also add some olive oil or butter. After adding the rice, the temperature of your water will drop, and it'll stop boiling. Let it come back to a gentle simmer. Cover the saucepan and reduce heat to low. Keep the lid on. Check at 30 min. If there is still some water left, no worries, you can drain it out. Let the rice be your indicator, not the water. Turn off the heat, put the lid back on, and let it rest for a few minutes in the steamy saucepan. Use a fork to gently mix the rice to make sure that it doesn’t stick together.

 

 

Ground beef with kale, beans and tomatoes

 

Step 1

Put the ground beef in low pot. You don’t need oil to cook it as ground beef usually cooks in its own fat. Add some salt, pepper, and any other season you would like.

Step 2

Once the beef is brown and cooked, which usually takes around 5-6 minutes you can add the can of tomatoes and kale (chopped, no stems).

Step 3

Check on it after 5 minutes. Make sure the kale is cooked to your liking as it doesn’t take much time to cook it.

Step 4

Finally, open the can of beans, strain them, run them under cold water to wash off the canning residue and put them into your pot. Give it a good mix and leave for 3-4 minutes.

Step 5

Turn it off and you are finished. Serve it over brown rice.

 

Syndie Leonard-Hamm awards the trophy for best Victory Banner to Michael who participates at WellLife's Astoria Station Day Habilitation "All Stars". 

 

At WellLife Victory Olympic Games "Everyone is a Winner"

"This day was great - look at my medal," exclaimed Richard, who proudly displayed the Olympic medallion he had won at the softball throw competition. This day of wellness took place at the WellLife Network's inaugural Victory Olympic Games. Some 100 participants from WellLife's Day Habilitation programs gathered at Forest Park in Queens to enjoy a day dedicated to developing their physical fitness and experiencing the joys of success! The activities included walks, races, softball and discus throws, bean bag tosses, and a proud display of each program's hand-painted Victory banners.

 

Building Confidence and Empowerment

This one-day event was created and organized by Syndie Leonard-Hamm, Program Site Director. She designed the event to assist Day Habilitation participants in realizing their innate abilities. "Through sports and wellness activities, WellLife opens their world with acceptance and understanding," said Syndie. "Every person is included and welcomed, regardless of ability or life challenge. As a result of their accomplishments today, we hope that each participant becomes more confident, invigorated, and empowered".

 

A Dedicated Staff Made this Day a Reality

Syndie received the support of dedicated staff from all of the WellLife Day Habilitation programs, who worked tirelessly to bring this event to reality.

 

"At the WellLife Victory Games, everyone is a winner!, stated Nadia Hrvatin, Vice President, Developmental Disabilities. "This is truly a Victory event for participants and staff."

 

In addition to the medals and trophies, each attendee received a certificate of achievement. The mission of the Victory Olympics is to provide WellLife’s participants with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to develop physical fitness, reveal their courage, experience the joys of success, and participate in sharing skills and friendships with their family and friends.

 

Julie's smile says it all as she rolls her way to first place in the wheelchair competition, bringing victory to the Ann Mittasch Day Hab Tigers.

 

Day Habilitation Services

WellLife's Day Habilitation (with and without walls) programs, located throughout Queens and Brooklyn, offer a safe and nurturing environment where all participants feel a sense of belonging to a larger community. These services are provided to individuals who live in residential settings, by themselves or with family. The programs include purposeful and meaningful activities designed to foster the acquisition of skills, appropriate behavior, greater independence, and personal choice.

 

Individuals are provided with the specific skills training needed, ranging from personal grooming and meal preparation to assistance with medication administration (walled programs only) and housekeeping, support for independence in travel, transportation, and development of social skills, leisure skills, self-advocacy, informed choice skills, and more.

 

VIEW PHOTO ALBUM

 

For more information about WellLife Network's day habilitation, residential, and entitlement services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, please visit our website by clicking the link below.

WELLLIFE SERVICES FOR I/DD

 

 

WellLife Network won four coveted 2022 gold and silver Hermes Awards and the Communicator Award of Excellence for its 2021 Annual Report to the Community, "Heroes." It received these honors in two areas - the Charitable/Not-for-Profit categories for overall design/branding and copywriting. This report conveys the array of vital services that WellLife provides to more than 25,000 New Yorkers each year. 

 

Highly Respected International Awards Competitions

WellLife has garnered the highest level Annual Communicator Award - Award of Excellence. With over 6,500 entries received from across the U.S. and around the world, the Communicator Awards is the largest and most competitive awards program. It honors creative excellence for communications professionals. Other winners who also received the competition’s highest honor, the Award of Excellence, include PepsiCo, Forbes, Rayethon, Disney Creative Studios, AARP, and Bank of America, among others. 

 

The Hermes Awards Competition Showcases the Best in Design and Copywriting

The Hermes Award is a widely known and highly respected national and international competition that annually showcases the best work of leading advertising agencies, production companies, television stations, cable operators, corporate and in-house video departments worldwide. There were more than 7,000 entries from throughout the United States, Canada, and dozens of other countries in the Hermes Creative Awards 2022 competition.

A gold Hermes recognizes outstanding work in the graphic and video arts, marketing, and emerging media while promoting communication professionals' philanthropic nature. Less than 15% of all entries qualify for the gold award. 

 

Created and Produced In-House

The Annual Report was designed, written, photographed, and produced in-house, under the direction of Marvin Sperling, Vice President, and Konstantin Dzhibilov, Creative Director.

 

Our Communication Department understands the importance of branding and sharing the WellLife mission to the world, said Sherry Tucker, CEO WellLife Network, "It brands WellLife as a nonprofit that values transparency, quality, efficiency, and accountability and recognizes our ability to tell our story in a compelling format." 

 

The Hermes Creative Award is administered by the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals (AMCP) and the Communicator Award under the age is of the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts. Judges are industry professionals who look for companies and individuals whose talent serves as a benchmark for the industry. 

 

A Dedicated Staff and a Cadre of Partnerships Make it Happen

In 2021 WellLife Network faced unique challenges to keep the people we serve safe and well. We are so proud of the extraordinary efforts of our staff in meeting this Herculean challenge. Our team of professionals has provided support, care, and compassion to those who depend on us the most.

 

WellLife is also grateful to you, our partners, who inspire all that we do on behalf of the thousands of individuals, families, and communities we serve.

 

VIEW ANNUAL

 

 

WellLife Network, one of the region's largest nonprofits, proudly announces that it is the recipient of the 2022 Platinum GuideStar Nonprofit Profile Seal of Transparency. This is the sixth consecutive year that WellLife Network has earned a platinum rating. This award is the highest level of recognition offered by GuideStar (Candid), the world's largest source of nonprofit information.

 

GuideStar's evaluation method focuses on metrics related to progress and results based on a charity's stated mission and awards ratings resulting from the level of transparency in reporting. Only fifteen percent of the more than 1.6 million nonprofits evaluated by GuideStar nationwide achieve this Platinum rating. By updating our GuideStar Nonprofit Profile to earn a Platinum Seal, we can now easily share a wealth of up-to-date organizational metrics with our supporters and GuideStar's immense online audience, including donors, grantmakers, and our peers.

 

A Highly Rated Recognition

"I am so proud of WellLife's efforts towards full financial transparency," said Jeffrey Finkle, Co-chairperson WellLife Board. "This accomplishment is crucial for financially trustworthy and responsible nonprofits and is a testament to our staff and administrators' commitment to our mission."

 

Sherry Tucker, CEO, WellLife added, "It is with great pride that we accept this vital recognition from GuideStar. Our Board of Directors and staff work tirelessly to maintain a transparent and efficient organization to ensure that the highest percentage of each dollar we receive is directed towards serving our program participants."

In addition to transparency, the organization excels in its effective use of funds. Ninety cents of every dollar spent by WellLife Network goes directly to client services and programs.

 

About WellLife Network WellLife Network is proud of its services to 25,000 New Yorkers each year and its leadership role in developing new models of care. Our broad network of high-quality, outcome-based behavioral health, developmental disabilities, children and family, housing, substance use recovery, care coordination, and community education services are supported by a robust infrastructure and sophisticated technology platforms. WellLife Network will increase its scale and capabilities to thrive and grow in a changing health care environment, allowing it to compete more effectively and with sustainability in the health and human services arena.

 

Nurse Gregory was on a cruise when she noticed several other nurses tending to a group of people with Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities. She was taken aback as she had never seen nurses working in this capacity and caring for people with such kindness. It was amazing, she thought to herself, so she asked the group how they got into this type of work. It was here that Ms. Gregory first heard about WellLife Network. She immediately applied for a job and is now going on her 19th year as Registered Nurse (RN) with the organization.

 

“I got a different perspective from a different side of nursing at WellLife, and it is very moving,” said Nurse Gregory. When asked why she has stayed at WellLife for so long, she told us, “This is a very unique nursing job. The individuals you work with become like family. That is why I’m still here.”

 

Ms. Gregory is 1 of 50 nurses employed by WellLife Network. “We have multiple divisions, and each division brings their own approach to their respective program,” said Leonard White, Director of Nursing at WellLife. Nurses like Ms. Gregory work in our housing and day habilitation programs, monitoring the health of our participants and administering medication.

 

“We provide a lot of individual care, it is a lot like case management,” said Leonard, who explained the various roles the nurses play at WellLife. “The nurses help when the doctors need it, they provide training to the nurses that are coming in, they go above and beyond and wear different hats while doing it,” White elaborated.

 

 

In our Mental Health Division, we met with Gary Martin, a nurse with 37 years of experience, who started at WellLife in January 2022. “I sit here working in Smithtown–and I have worked in lots of environments–this is an extremely professional environment” he said. WellLife Network was recommended to Gary from a friend who knew of his extensive background in psychiatric nursing. Although he was retired and initially skeptical of returning to this field, he now believes it was the best decision he ever made. “It’s not about the income it’s about me providing care and me being comfortable about what I’m doing.”

 

Gary works for the WellLife PROS Program where he provides outpatient services and administers medication for people with mental health challenges. “I used to work inpatient for years and it was incredibly intense, the patients are very unpredictable and sometimes it could get dangerous. But this job is different. I am very blessed,” said Gary. “This job has been very good to me. I ask myself ‘where was this job 30 years ago?’”

 

One of the things that Gary loves most about WellLife is being able to see his clients doing well in the community. He will often see participants while shopping and going about his daily routine, and they will give him a smile and a wave. It is a small gesture, but it means a lot to Gary who knows that he was able to play a role in this person’s ability to live independently in the community.

 

In many cases, nursing means long hours, difficult shifts, working different roles, and always being in high demand. While the pandemic may have set a lot of people back and pushed others to work remotely, nurses did not have the same fate. In fact, during the pandemic their workload doubled. As COVID-19 cases rose, some nurses had to come out of retirement to fill the national shortage.

 

WellLife Network is proud to celebrate National Nurse Day. Our nurses continually go above and beyond for their patients, showing compassion and truly caring for everyone they serve. It is amazing to have such a strong team of individuals dedicated to improving the health and wellness of New York’s most vulnerable people. "Nursing is an intricate part of our program and this place cannot function without them" said White, about all his nurses. From all of us at WellLife Network, thank you for your work and have a happy Nurse Day!

Written by: Howell Shrage, MD

Suicide rates are highest during the spring and early summer months of April, May, and June. This may seem hard to believe, but statistics over the last many years bear this out.  It is a myth that the winter months lead to more suicides. In fact, December the darkest and one of the coldest months of the year has the lowest suicide rate.

 

Why do suicide rates rise in the Spring?

For Adults, Theories include:

A.) People who’ve struggled with depression during the winter continue to be depressed in the spring. Exposure to more daylight in the springtime increases energy and motivation which could turn someone who is passively suicidal into someone who is a danger to themselves.

B.) Depressed people are isolated during the winter months. When spring begins there is an expectation that people will spend time outdoors and socialize with friends. Missing out on this experience can worsen feelings of loneliness and disappointment and make people more likely to act on suicidal thoughts.

C.) There is an association between inflammation in the brain and mood disorders. Spring brings pollen and allergic reactions to some, and this results in an inflammatory response. It is hypothesized that inflammation may lead to depression or exacerbate the symptoms of those already experiencing depression.  

 

SUICIDE IS THE SECOND LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH IN TEENAGERS AGES 15-19.

For Teenagers, the reasons are clearer. The seasonal pattern relates to school issues. In the spring, high school seniors learn about college acceptances/rejections and are making the difficult decision about which college to attend. Other high school students who have struggled with their grades may be learning they are going to summer school or be repeating an academic year. These stressful situations can worsen already existing symptoms of anxiety and depression, possibly increasing the risk of suicidal behaviors. Noticeable changes in behavior in teenagers may include irritability, isolation, and impulsivity. When parents become aware of these behavioral changes, they should speak with their children.

 

Warning Signs of Suicide: If you or someone you know is experiencing one or more of the following behaviors, he or she may be thinking about suicide. Don’t ignore these warning signs. Get help immediately.

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious or agitated, behaving recklessly
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Displaying extreme mood swings  

 

RESOURCES FOR WELLLIFE NETWORK STAFF: WellLife Network’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP). For a private and confidential appointment with a counselor. Telephone Number: 1-888-209-7840

 

Resources for the general population:

24/7 National Crisis Hotlines 

https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/talk-to-someone-now/

https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/help-yourself/en-espanol/

https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/

https://www.thetrevorproject.org/get-help/#trevorChat

References:

CDC.org

Hopkinsmedicine.org

Inquier.com 

 

About the Author: Dr. Schrage is a practicing psychiatrist for some 34 years. He graduated from Downstate Medical Center and interned at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Montefiore Medical Center. He received his Board Certification in psychiatry in 1987 and in 1996 received certification in psychiatry. Dr. Schrage has held many academic appointments and professional positions, most notably as the Medical Director, Geriatric Partial Hospital Program, Northern Westchester Hospital; Associate Clinical Director, Community Services, Creedmoor Psychiatric Center; Coordinator, Medical Student Education in Psychiatry Coordinator, Long Island Jewish Medical Center and Director of ECT Service, Northern Westchester Hospital. Dr. Schrage has published articles appearing in the American Journal of Psychiatry and has made presentations psychiatric conferences on HIV infection and the psychiatric patient.

In the shadow of Yankee Stadium, just beyond the hustle and bustle that is the 161st subway station in the Bronx, lies one of WellLife Network’s newest residences. Built in 2016, the 165th mixed-use apartment complex stands on a quiet street between a row of private houses. It has a beautiful backyard suitable for summer BBQ’s and plenty of green space. The staff who run the facility keep everything clean and in order. You can tell as soon as you arrive that they take pride in maintaining the property. Its an oasis. A safe haven nestled in the South Bronx.

 

Clint Nared is the Program Director of the 165th facility. He has worked at WellLife Network for 3 years. Prior to assuming his current role, he was a case manager where he placed people in our resident programs and provide them assistance in obtaining services. When asked what drew him to this role, he told us, “I love helping people, that’s what I do best.”

 

One of Clint’s top priorities is establishing a sense of community within the building. “I want to get more tenants to attend the monthly building meeting, that would be great,” Clint said, like many buildings the 165th residency holds monthly meetings to hear about any grievances or anything that could be improved.

 

 

Every month Clint posts fliers on the 1st floor bulletin board for the monthly building meeting. He also makes it a point to deliver fliers to each of the tenants. “I am trying to get more people to participate, you know that’s how we make decisions, as a community.” Attendance is important for voting and for staying up to date with ongoing developments.

 

The building has 58 units, housing 38 WellLife residents and 20 individuals from the community who qualify for low-income housing. It was built with state-of-the-art qualities some include self-service garbage disposals, gym rooms, a new laundry room, and even security for the building, these were all included for free for the resident’s use.

 

Working in the main office on the first-floor, Clint, does his rounds every morning to make sure everything is clean and checks on all the floors for any irregularities. “We make sure the people are getting everything they need, if they need money for groceries or laundry, we loan it to them,” Clint said, “if they need help with doctor’s appointment, making them or getting there we help arrange transportation.” While the program does lend out money when the individuals need it, they also try and encourage the individual to budget their money.

 

Clint works alongside Marilyn and Evelyn, who are both case workers and meet with the tenants as many times as needed, sometimes multiple times a month. “I have definitely seen my fair share of progress from the clients,” Evelyn said, “sometimes it’s good progress and sometimes people have setbacks, but you try to help them out in any way possible.”

 

 

Clint and Marylin

Alongside housing support, tenants have access to WellLife’s world class mental health resources. Dr. Max Banilivy, one of WellLife most prominent psychotherapist, is always available to help staff. He advises them on how to deal with difficult situation involving a mentally unwell individual. Residents also receive guidance and support in personal and community living skills and monitoring of their prescribed medications. Individuals are also encouraged to participate in rehabilitation and vocational program activities outside of their residence.

 

One of the tenants living in the building is Jose. Jose came to the WellLife from a shelter in Brooklyn. “I was homeless before then I was getting bounced around from shelter to shelter. One in Brooklyn then east New York then in queens, until finally my case worker told me to apply to WellLife for a permanent residency and I got it,” Jose said.

 

As a longtime resident of 165th he has found a way to focus his energy on something creative. He makes 3D models out of crafts some of the models include a full house setup with its own garden and picket fence, wooden barrels, an American fighter plane.

 

 

 

 

“I get inspiration from what I see outside or on Facebook,” he told me. The Puerto Rican native said he loves to create art, not sell it, with that one can see many pieces created by Jose around the building and some in staff offices.

 

 

Every resident has their own, unique story. Staff told us about Rafael, who came to the program without much direction. He was withdrawn and detached at first, but after working with him, our team was able to get him to open up. They found out that Rafael had a lot to offer the world. He wanted to do something positive with his life, but he didn’t know where to start. WellLife connected him with our peer specialist training program. As a Certified Peer Specialists, Rafael was able to help the clients to make informed, independent choices, set goals, and become active participants in the community. He excelled in the program and quickly found a job that he loved.

Recently, Rafael told us about a position with the MTA that he was too nervous to apply for. Our team gave him the confidence to try and helped through the process. We are proud to report that he got the job!

 

These are just two examples of the important work that is being done by WellLife Network. Our goal is to create a low-income mixed-use housing development which offer supportive, safe and nurturing environments where all tenants feel a sense of cohesion and belonging to a larger community.

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