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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!

February 21, 2023
Women's History Month


March is Women's History Month which provides an opportunity to recognize and honor the visionary generations of innovative and trailblazing women and girls who have made vast and varied contributions that have shaped our progress as a society and strengthened our character. 


The influence of Women and our contributions are being celebrated all over the world. March 8 is International Womens Day, where we recognize women's accomplishments and remarkable worldwide impact. This March 2023, The WellLife DEI Committee would like to highlight a few of these extraordinary women.


Indira Gandhi — The first female Prime Minister of India


Marie Curie — The first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Science


Malala Yousafzai — The Youngest recipient of the Nobel Prize (at age 14!!) for her activities for girls/women's rights


Mia Motley — The first female Prime Minister of Barbados


Imelda Nava — Mexican Women's and gender rights advocate


Hedy Lamarr — Wireless Communication 


Marion Donovan — Disposable Diapers


Ada Harris — The Hair Straightener 


Chien-Shiung Wu — Nuclear Physics 


Katanji Brown — First African American Supreme Court Justice 


Ellen Ochoa — First Hispanic woman in the world to go into space


February 1, 2023
February is Black History Month


February is Black History Month, a period in which to reflect upon and better educate ourselves about how African Americans, and their rich and vast culture, have contributed to the shaping of modern society...

In 1891 Phillip Downing invented the outdoor mailbox that featured a hinged door that kept the letters secure and kept the snow and rain out.
In 1922, Garrett Morgan invented the three-light traffic system.
In 1887, Alexander Miles invented automatic elevator doors.
In 1889, John Purdy invented the folding chair.
In 1872, Thomas Elkins invented the modern toilet.
In 1919, Alice H. Parker invented the gas-heating furnace.
In 1964, Otis Boykin created the pacemaker.

More recently, the creation of VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) is credited to Dr. Marian Croak; Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett and her team are widely regarded as the scientists that developed the components of the COVID 19 Vaccine marking a turning point in the global pandemic.

Today, there is a consistent effort to eliminate the teaching of African American History from the educational system in the United States. The accomplishments, contributions, and suffering of African Americans are part of the American story and should not be relegated to just a month but should be a required part of our educational curriculum.

January 13, 2023

Winter Party Staff Glam

Self-Portrait Project will be providing a photobooth for the event.

July 28, 2022

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 Crooks.


When I met Marcel he was finishing up a budget meeting, “nowadays I am practically jumping from meeting to meeting,” he said to me to. 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 Crooks 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.


“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 31, 2022


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

May 27, 2022

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.


May 17, 2022

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.




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.




May 16, 2022

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.




May 11, 2022


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.

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