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September 25, 2023


Elena T.


This is Elena T. She works at WellLife Network as a Program Director of the Youth Community Residence.

She manages an 8-bed community residence for youth aged 12-17. “Kids live here 24/7, so my job is to ensure that everything goes smoothly, not only with their transition to the residence but also with their stay.” The kids who live in the residence are enrolled in a program that teaches them coping skills and provides support to them. Elena also works closely with the families of the youth in a family-guided informed care program with the focus of reuniting the kids with their family members. “The kids come here because they need a more supportive environment, something that, at times, their family cannot give them,” said Elena.

All referrals come from the Children’s Single Point of Access (SPOA); a program that helps providers connect people with serious mental illness to mental health services that can accommodate them. They receive referrals from hospitals, psychiatric facilities, or various programs in the school district. Once screened, they are invited to visit the community residence to ask any questions they have about living there, the programs offered, and/or if the community residence is the correct level of care that is appropriate for them.

In most cases, the referred youth have already tried different services, such as counseling or in-home services. When they are deemed unsuccessful, that is when WellLife Network steps in. “There are kids that have a lot of physical and mental trauma, so when they are not very trusting, which is completely normal, we work with them from the ground up,” Elena said. Unfortunately, there are also those who never open up, but Elena and her team keep on trying.

One story Elena recalls is that of a very timid 17-year-old youth who came into the residence and did not want to talk to anyone for a very long time. The team worked with that youth day after day. “We started with basic conversations about going out into the community, doing things together. It could be as simple as a board game, but the purpose was to try to find some common ground.” Soon, the youth was confident enough to begin establishing his own life as a young adult. Occasionally, they still come around the residence to speak to the staff and even serve as role models to other youths.

“I've been working in this field since 1999. At first, it was very stressful,” Elena says. “I had to figure out how to manage since I was very emotionally involved in the kids’ lives. I didn’t want to get burnt out. It was challenging, trying to find that spot where I felt confident enough to continue with my own life, but I learned that the kids teach us, and we teach them. I believe working in this setting is one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had.”

September 25, 2023
Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, holds profound significance in the Jewish faith as a day of reflection, repentance, and spiritual renewal. It is a time when Jewish communities around the world come together in solemn observance to seek forgiveness for past transgressions and to set intentions for a better future. As we acknowledge Yom Kippur, we recognize the enduring values of forgiveness, compassion, and self-examination that it represents. This sacred day serves as a reminder for people of all backgrounds to reflect on their own lives, to seek reconciliation and healing where needed, and to strive for greater empathy and understanding in our shared human journey.

We extend our warmest wishes to all those observing Yom Kippur, praying for a meaningful and introspective day of reflection and reconciliation. G'mar Chatimah Tovah.

September 18, 2023
Hispanic Heritage Month


Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15th to October 15th, celebrating the rich histories, diverse cultures, and invaluable contributions of Americans with Latin American or Spanish heritage.

The DEI Committee would like to take a special moment to acknowledge the immense contributions our Hispanic colleagues have made and continue to make here, at WellLife Network. From Peer Specialists to our Management team, our Hispanic colleagues bring a unique cultural perspective that is matched only by their unwavering commitment to representing and serving our Hispanic communities, as well as communities of various cultures. The DEI Committee joins the people we serve in saying, ¡MUCHAS GRACIAS!

September 1, 2023
Dominique, Program Director of Supported Housing


This is Dominique. She has been with WellLife Network for 14 years and was recently promoted to Program Director of Supported Housing.

Dominique started her career as a case manager at WellLife Network. She spent six years in that role, assisting individuals on a case-by-case basis. Today, as the Program Director of Supported Housing, she oversees 26 case workers and 4 Supervisors—a significant leap from her previous team of nine when she was a Senior Program Coordinator. "The transition has been fairly seamless," Dominique says. "The only real challenge has been managing a greater number of cases."

WellLife Network’s Supported Housing Division is a field-based program with scattered sites across Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Manhattan. Caseworkers visit individuals in the field either monthly or as needed.

The role of case managers is multifaceted. They monitor various aspects of their clients' lives—from overseeing individuals’ medication to re-engaging in clinical services to promote wellness. They also maintain constant communication with each individual and even speak to their families during crises.

"Emergencies can happen at any time," Dominique notes. In instances where an individual goes missing, case workers must follow proper protocol, which involves alerting both the family and the authorities.

Referrals for Supported Housing are directed to the Intake Department. Most of the referrals come from in-house, shelters and hospitals. The team carefully reviews these referrals and applications to select the most suitable candidates.

"We had one individual who struggled to adapt to their new apartment and was constantly facing issues," recounts Dominique. "We relocated that individual, and since then, they have been thriving—a testament to the importance of meeting people halfway."

Dominique also shared a memorable experience: "Years ago, I handled a case involving an individual with a severe hoarding problem. Everything they kept reminded them of their late parents. We established a program to help them declutter, and they made noticeable progress. To incentivize them further, I promised new furniture if they could clear out the space completely. This really motivated them to maintain a clean living environment."

"We help set goals and work collectively to achieve them," says Dominique. "Success isn't guaranteed, but that's what we're here for. I encourage them to see failures not as setbacks but as pauses—opportunities to regroup and move forward. Each story’s outcome depends on the individual involved."

July 19, 2023
July is Disability Pride Month

By: Jodie Dionne

“Far from tragic, disability is a part of the human experience.” Disability Pride Month commemorates the passing of the “Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.” It has been celebrated worldwide to recognize people with disabilities, their identities, culture, and contributions to society. Disability Pride Month shines a light on every human living with a disability and how they have found triumph and a sense of identity in their lives. Every human has the right to experience a life free of stigma and prejudice, with the full support of their society.

People with disabilities make up about 15% of the world’s population, this month celebrates every one of those individuals, and the DEI Committee proudly stands with them.

June 26, 2023
Program Coordinator, DD Services

By: Deborah Cruz

At ten in the morning the Station Road parking lot had been transformed to a Hawaiian destination, with palm trees and a snowcone tiki bar. Most of the individuals were seated patiently waiting for the burgers to hit the grills, while others had already began dancing and vibing to the music. The entire event had been put together by few people Syndey, Jennifer, and Samantha, Program Coordinator of DD Services.

As a Program Coordinator, Samantha, works 1-on-1 with WellLife’s individuals to make every activity they do therapeutic. “I work with all individuals, for example, if an individual is non-verbal, I will them to engage in a conversation,” said Samantha, “I try to put a therapeutic experience to everything they do.”

Samantha, who graduated from St. Joseph’s University, said she wanted to work at WellLife after she volunteered. “When I was in school, I learned about disabilities and mental health it really encouraged me to take this route,” she said, “I volunteered here during COVID-19, I led many activities through ZOOM.” During the lockdown, many of the physical activities and resources meant help those at WellLife were transferred over to online services. Only recently has there been more in-person events and physical activities.

The Rego Park native mentioned that challenges that come with the work, “being a new person coming in, the individuals are not used to me, so they are not as open with me as opposed to a staff member who has been here a long time.” She stated that some individuals need to be engaged before they speak to her, which could be difficult at times. “I’ve gotten to know a lot of them and they’re slowly opening up to me.”

While Samantha works 1-on-1 with the individuals, she also works in group settings and is heavily involved in planning events for her sites. Recently, she helped come up with the “Luau End of Summer Bash” an event that became a big hit among the individuals. The purpose of the events is to get the individuals out of their day-to-day schedule, it drives them to practice their motor and cognitive skills while interacting with others in a more social setting. “With these activities the individuals find a common ground. We want them to receive the social interaction that they may not get when they leave the program,” Samantha explained.

One important aspect of recreation is community engagement and for Samantha it is a priority, “a few weeks ago, WellLife had their Victory Games and then their international day, those were two really big events, I’m glad we are bringing the community back together” Samantha said, “we focus a lot on the individuals, but it’s important we don’t forget the community aspect of it.”

June 16, 2023

Right off the Jackie Robinson Highway on Cypress Ave. you can see a new towering brick-red apartment building.The building is WellLife Network’s newest addition to their housing program, a newly built 66-apartment unit building with its own parking lot. One can already see residents moving in from a distance. Leading the charge is Deputy Director of Mental Health, Marcel.

When I met Marcel he was finishing up a budget meeting, “nowadays I am practically jumping from meeting to meeting,” he said. Marcel began his employment at WellLife nearly 11 years ago as a Direct Support Professional, or DSP, where he helped individuals 1-on-1 with their daily needs that included recreational support and hygiene. Soon afterwards, he became a Case Manager working with individuals in different capacities. Today, Marcel is the Deputy Director of Mental Health at Cypress and four other WellLife Network locations, he works overseeing day-to-day operations, budget meeting, tenant meetings, and policy vacancies.

Marcel C.

“I think the most important thing for my community is identifying resources,” Marcel said, “many people in my community, be that Cypress or where I am from, aren’t aware of the resources that are out there and I like to help people locate those resources.” His passion is helping individuals in their current state and also preparing them for the future, which is locating food pantries, finding free/low cost mental health services, affordable daycare for children etc. For many individuals receiving benefits, it is mandatory they maintain a certain income to be eligible, if they go above that set income, they lose their benefits. This is what is known as the “benefits cliff” and can be challenging to many individuals living from paycheck to paycheck, even more challenging to those struggling with mental health challenges.

40 of the 66 units are identified as supportive housing for individuals with mental health challenges. Once the tenants moving in settle into their apartment Marcel and his team will begin scheduling monthly tenant meetings to discuss outpatient services, trainings, day programs, tutors for those in school, healthcare accessibility, and recreational trips. “I hold monthly meetings in all of the locations I want the tenants to get the most of out of these meetings,” Marcel said.

The Jamaica, Queens native said his devotion to helping individuals with mental health challenges came from his own experience. While studying for his Bachelors degree he found out that a few of his immediate family members were diagnosed with a metal health condition. Unfortunately, they were diagnosed later in adulthood, “I don’t think you realize it when you’re young or you can’t identify it,” he said, “had someone helped me identify those resources they could have received medical attention sooner.” Recently, Marcel received a commendation from the Nassau County Legislature for creating awareness for Black Men’s Mental Health and Wellness on the occasion of Breaking the ICE: The Black Men’s Mental Health and Wellness conference at Adelphi University and remains active on that matter. 

Marcel believes that helping individuals identify resources would help them prepare against obstacles like the “benefit cliff” or recognizing mental health struggles early on. “For me, success in a client looks like seeing them stay resilient, not give up on their goals and taking their time reaching them one by one,” the Deputy Director said,“we as a staff celebrate their small goals because that helps them look forward to the next one.”





May 17, 2023
May is AAPI Month


In 1992, the month of May was designated by President George H. W. Bush as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month as a way of paying tribute to the generations of Asian and Pacific Islanders who have enriched America’s history and are instrumental in its future success.

Asian Pacific American Heritage month is important because Asian Americans are an integral part of the nation, our businesses, and communities. At WellLife Network, many staff have this heritage, and contribute to the agency in a significant way. Asian Pacific Americans are sometimes viewed as one block of people, when their experiences can vary vastly amongst all the different nations and groups that are often categorized under this banner. It is always important to recognize the unique contributions of each person for the talents they bring to the world.

In the last few years, racial prejudice against Asian Pacific Americans has escalated. Scapegoating is wrong against any human. The DEI Committee recognizes and supports the Asian Pacific Americans at WellLife Network and across the nation. Thank you for all the contributions you have made to make the world a better place.


March 22, 2023



This week is National Drug & Alcohol Facts week. Here are some tips for reducing or eliminating your alcohol consumption:


Set a limit to drinking, for yourself, and commit.

• Set yourself a drink limit and stop once you’ve reached it. Keep up your water and food intake

• If you’re thirsty, reach for water or a non-alcohol alternative instead of alcohol.

• Make sure to alternate your alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic drinks. A glass of water or a soft drink works well.

• Drinking on an empty stomach will increase the rate that alcohol is metabolized in your body.

• Eating before or while you drink alcohol will help it be absorbed into the bloodstream at a lower rate.


Keep a distance from the people who urge you to drink

• Tell friends and family you want to reduce your drinking.

• It can be a bit tricky with some people. Try practicing standard responses.

• Practice saying “no” to people who encourage drinking–it gets easier with time.

• “I’m pacing myself,” “I am trying to cut back,” or “I want to be healthier” these are some responses you can use if you are feeling pressured.

• Invite out your low-drinking or non-drinking friends–keep each other accountable.


Get rid of the alcohol in your house.

• Avoid stocking up on alcohol on your next trip to the shop.

• When we stockpile alcohol, we are more likely to drink it sooner than we think.

• Easy access is the ultimate enabler. Slowly implement alcohol-free days into your routine.

• If you’re heading out for the night, avoid drinking in rounds.

• If you want to limit how much you drink, the best excuse is to be the designated driver!

• Set a budget for how much you will spend on alcohol in any period.

• Find social alternatives that don’t involve alcohol: the beach, a picnic, or the movies.


Get rid of the alcohol in your house.

• Avoid stocking up on alcohol on your next trip to the shop.

• When we stockpile alcohol, we are more likely to drink it sooner than we think.

• Easy access is the ultimate enabler.


Slowly implement alcohol-free days into your routine.

• If you’re heading out for the night, avoid drinking in rounds.

• If you want to limit how much you drink, the best excuse is to be the designated driver!

• Set a budget for how much you will spend on alcohol in any period.

• Find social alternatives that don’t involve alcohol: the beach, a picnic, or the movies.

March 20, 2023

Happy Ramadan


Islam is the world’s second-largest religion after Christianity and has more than 1 billion followers. Islam originated in Arabia and spread all over the world.


Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting, prayer, reflection, and community. Ramadan is celebrated as the month during which Muhammad received the initial revelations of what became the Quran, the holy book for Muslims, from God.


This year it will run from March 23 to April 22nd, actually beginning at sundown March 22nd and ending at sundown April 21st, 2023. As one of the five pillars, or duties, of Islam, fasting during the month of Ramadan is mandatory for all healthy adult Muslims. Children who have not reached puberty, the elderly, those who are physically or mentally incapable of fasting, pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, and travelers are exempt. Menstruating women are also exempt from fasting.

There are 3 stages of Ramadan. 1st (First 10 days) – Mercy of Allah (Rahmah). 2nd (Second 10 days) - Forgiveness of Allah (Maghfirah). 3rd(Final 10 days)-Safety from the Hellfire (Nijat).


During Ramadan, Muslims abstain from eating any food, drinking any liquids, smoking cigarettes, and engaging in any sexual activity from dawn to sunset. They eat one meal just before dawn and another after sunset. Taking medication (even if you swallow a pill dry, without drinking any water, is forbidden.)


If someone observing Ramadan becomes sick, it should be fine to break the fast, and they only need to make up another day after Ramadan. You must make up for the days that were missed.


Health Benefits? Ramadan fasting increases the red blood cells, white blood cells, platelet count, and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and decreases the blood cholesterol, triglycerides, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and very low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Ramadan is a fantastic detox for the body by clearing your digestive system throughout the month. Some experts say it even improves your mental health!

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