Annual Gala Highlights WellLife Network's Accomplishments
“What Matters to You . . . Matters to Us,” the newly launched theme of the WellLife Network was much in evidence as inspired corporate supporters and community leaders gathered at the agency’s 3rd Annual Gala Benefit Dinner, held Wednesday, June 12, 2019 at the corporate headquarters of Mutual of America, New York City.
The event raised more than $240,000 to support WellLife Network’s comprehensive array of health and social services that, each year, helps more than 25,000 individuals and families achieve greater personal and economic independence. “Through the work that we do, thousands of people in need benefit," said Sherry Tucker, CEO.
WellLife Network Tops Forbes Best Employer List in New York State
Forbes named WellLife Network to its inaugural list of America’s Best-New York State Employers 2019. "We are thrilled with this designation,” said Jeff Finkle, WellLife Network Chairperson.
This recognition highlights our determination to provide the best services to New Yorkers in need and reinforces the fact that WellLife Network offers a diverse range of career opportunities, competitive salaries, excellent benefits and the opportunity to work for a well-regarded organization in New York State.
Special guest Bill Ritter, Emmy Award-Winning Broadcaster, WABC-TV News, once again served as host and special guest for the event.
Sherry Tucker, CEO, commented on the challenges faced by all health and human services organizations in developing a caring and compassionate staff in offering creative and value-based services catering to the unique needs of the individuals and families we serve. This "I See You" approach addresses the ever-expanding base of individuals and families in need.
Ashley Griffin, renowned author and actress of TRIAL gave an inspiring keynote on the plight of sexual trauma survivors, admonishing both men and women who have experienced this to continue believing in their self-worth and value as contributing members of society.
Corporate Partners Make A Difference
Brian Rooney, Senior Vice President, Mutual of America received the WellLife Network Corporate and Philanthropic Leadership Award.
In accepting the award, Mr. Rooney commented, “WellLife Network is a valued partner of Mutual of America. We try to give back and enrich the lives of the staff and people WellLife serves. It is our way of saying 'thank you'."
Mutual of America, one of the largest retirement plan companies in the United States, provides group and individual variable annuity contracts and related services for the pension, retirement, and long-range savings needs to hundreds of organizations and their employees.
Beverly Garcia was honored with the Elaine and Thomas A. Blumberg Staff Inspiration Award, thanks to the generous funding from esteemed board member Tom Blumberg.
An emotional highlight of the evening included the personal stories of two WellLife Network program participants, Andrew Alba and Christine and Yassah Johnston who benefit from the agency’s services.
Corporate Partners Make A Difference
WellLife Network acknowledges the support of major benefit donors, including:
• Visionary Sponsor: Mutual of America
• Patron Sponsor: Lamb Insurance Services
• Supporting Sponsor: BDO USA, LLP; Carr Business Systems; Elaine and Tom Blumberg; CSD Housing, LLC; Keezac Pharmacy; Levy, Stopol & Camelo, LLP; Angela & Anthony Rinella; Joanne and Joseph Stein, Jr; Urban Architectural Initiatives and WellLife Network Executive Staff.
• Partner Sponsor: Gallagher; Jackson Lewis, P.C.; The Richman Group; TD Bank; TGI Office Automation andTristate Apartment Furnishers
WellLife Network, one of the region’s largest and most diversified health and human services organizations, has touched the lives of more than 1 million people over the past 40 years.
To view the Annual Gala Photo Album, click here.
Survey Ranks WellLife Network 13th of 16 of New York State’s Best Health Care and Social Services Employers
This ranking reflects the compassion and authentic generosity shared by employees and partners of WellLife Network. Only 146 companies were selected from New York State to represent the best of 22 business sectors. Sixteen of the organizations named were from the Healthcare and Social Services Sector, including WellLife Network.
Sherry Tucker, CEO, WellLife Network stated, "We are elated to share our ranking with 15 other well respected New York organizations as NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, NYU Langone Health, Northwell Health, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Mount Sinai Health Systems and the American Red Cross, to name a few."
Some 80,000 employees across the U.S. were polled, as well as corporate partners. Employees were asked to rate their willingness to recommend their employers to friends and family and were also prompted to evaluate other employers in the respective industries.
WellLife Network's Culture 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.
Offering a Broad Range of Health and Human Services
WellLife Network, the Queens-based, New York non-profit, offers its broad network of health and human services throughout New York 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 addiction recovery and prevention services and trains and finds employment opportunities for veterans.
WellLife Network is also one of the largest regional providers of residential services in New York.
Committed to Investing in Staff Development and Well-Being
"We are committed to continuing our investment in staff, their training and well-being," said Sherry Tucker. "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."
On June 5, 2019 nominees of the Lani & Thomas A. Blumberg Staff Appreciation Award gathered at the executive offices for a luncheon celebrating their nomination for this prestigious WellLife Network honor. The Award, which comes with a $250 honorarium will be given out at the Annual Benefit Gala on June 12th.
The nominees included:
• Dr. Max Banilivy, Director, Internships, Education & Community Awareness
• Andre Dujoy, Supervisor, Facilities
• Beverly Garcia, Director, DeWitt Residence
• Deloris Gordon, Program Director, Developmental Disabilities Services
• Yolanda McGee, Director, Revenue Cycle
The Award is given out yearly to a staff member who most closely embodies the following criteria:
Mission Oriented: The candidate is a productive employee who is committed to carrying out the mission of WellLifeNetwork - to help individuals and/or staff they serve - reach their life's goals by assisting them to better cope with life and/or work's challenges and become more independent in the community or in their work position. The candidate is an expert in knowledge and experience and a team player in the division in which he/she serves.
Creative and Responsive: The candidate is enthusiastic, has a positive work attitude toward the individuals, staff and families they serve and acts as a role model to others. The candidate solves daily work assignments and provides innovative solutions to departmental and agency-wide work challenges. They are also an “ initiator" who accepts more tasks apart from her/his regular job routine.
Brand Ambassador: The candidate serves as the face and voice of WellLife Network to the individuals, colleagues and community contacts they serve by successfully promoting our mission and services. They generate enthusiasm for WellLifeNetwork, its good work and accomplishments.
Award Winner Announced
The winner was announced at the luncheon. Beverly Garcia, Director, DeWitt Residence is the recipient of the 2019 Staff Appreciation Award.
A special thank you to all the nominees and the management staff who nominated them. The decision was a difficult one.
Thank you for your participation and commitment to our Agency and its mission, vision and values.
“I wouldn't miss this rewarding event," exclaimed Kevin, a second year BDO USA, LLP veteran and one of the 127 volunteers who gathered at 21 locations across New York City and Long Island to lend a hand to WellLife Network’s Project Volunteer Day. These energetic volunteers are accountants, managers, insurance specialists, financial experts, sales reps, counselors, case workers, administrative assistants and more. They are people who wanted to give back and didn't mind sharing their time and some muscle power.
The volunteers had one common goal – to beautify the residences and facilities of WellLife Network through gardening, painting and exterior do-it-yourself projects.
Corporate and Staff Volunteers Made the Difference
Scattered showers didn't dampen the spirits as our WellLife Volunteers mulched, weeded, tilled the soil, planted hundreds of perennials and spread an amazing 33,200 pounds of mulch at residences for individuals with special needs and mental health challenges! The results were amazing and their efforts enhanced the agency's residential sites and neighborhoods.
We especially want to thank our corporate volunteers from BDO USA, LLP; The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc; Guardian Life Insurance; Lamb Insurance Services; Mutual of America; People's United Bank and The Home Depot who gave selflessly of their time and energy. A special "shout-out" to Emerald Lawn Care Services, Inc. who prepared the beds and manicured bushes and vegetation at several homes.
Also a big thank you to all of our dedicated staff volunteers and our Board member, Steve Bernstein who gave his all!
Nine volunteers from Goldman Sachs were happily mulching in the rain and proudly sporting their Community Team Works (CTW) t-shirts. Through the CTW program, volunteers from Goldman Sachs contribute time and energy to "drive tangible progress in communities where they work and live". Bradley Bernstein, Associate of The Goldman Sachs Group remarked, “WellLife Network is a great organization, dedicated to improving the lives of all people. This is our way of giving back to the residents of WellLife Network and saying 'thank you' for bringing the values of health and wellness of mind and body to the communities you serve."
Our Associate Board members were also out in full force. Michael Lamberg, Regional Sales Manager, and Alexa Santoro, Account Manager, Lamb Insurance Services, summed up the day’s activities as they proudly presented a carefully manicured beds of freshly planted hostas and annuals, “Lamb Insurance Services," said Alexa, "is proud to help WellLife and its residents. We are proud to volunteer and give back to the communities we serve.”
Take a few moments to view the photo album and experience the accomplishments of our dedicated volunteers!
WellLife Network welcomed its youngest recruits early this morning as more than 20 girls and boys of our staff attended our version of National Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. This day is recognized on the fourth Thursday in April each year. This annual event is an educational program in the United States where parents take their children to work with them for one day.
They were welcomed by Sherry Tucker, CEO, WellLife Network and were introduced to each of the executives and their departments at the executive offices. Then it was off to work as each of the children visited with their parents to discover what their moms and dads do each day. The children also explored career planning and were taught how to write a resume, which helped them make informed decisions about their future goals and career paths. Even the 5 year olds were encouraged to participate by listing their favorite activities.
A nutritious lunch was served and there were healthy snacks available all day long. The day culminated with a painting party, where special outdoor totems were created. These totems will be placed at our residential sites that are being re-landscaped in May by our volunteer network.
WellLife Network hopes to continue sponsoring this special day to allow our youth to and share knowledge, experience and advice around education, career choices and relevant skills required in today’s workplace.
April is World Autism Month. To celebrate and spotlight World Autism Month Astoria Day Habilitation Program worked with Crystal Morgan, Recreation Therapist, to continue to bring to light Autism Awareness.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental disability; signs typically appear during early childhood and affect a person’s ability to communicate, and interact with others. ASD is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a “spectrum condition” that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees. There is no known single cause of autism, but increased awareness and early diagnosis/intervention and access to appropriate services/supports lead to significantly improved outcomes. Some of the behaviors associated with autism include delayed learning of language; difficulty making eye contact or holding a conversation; difficulty with executive functioning, which relates to reasoning and planning; narrow, intense interests; poor motor skills’ and sensory sensitivities. Again, a person on the spectrum might follow many of these behaviors or just a few, or many others besides. The diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder is applied based on analysis of all behaviors and their severity. In recent years there have been many changes in the education of individuals diagnosed with Autism and with these changes more understanding in working with all individuals to allow them greater independence.
Crystal Morgan, Recreation Therapist, shares that the poster created by the individuals at Astoria Day Habilitation “exemplifies the feelings and attitudes towards autism. The goal was to promote the positive aspects of the exchanges we make every day with the individuals we serve. Each classroom added a quote and picture and passed it on to the next classroom. I am working hard to create the environment to break stigmas.”
More than 250 supporters of WellLife Network turned out at the one-night only benefit reading of Trial, a new play by Ashley Griffin (Snow, Twilight the Unauthorized Musical Parody) and directed by Lori Petty(Orange is the New Black, A League of Their Own). The play was presented at the Tilles Center on Thursday, March 28, 2019. This performance recognizes Sexual Assault Awareness Month, held in April, to raise public awareness about sexual assault and educate families and communities on how to prevent this violence.
Trial tells the unique and provocative story of a young woman waiting for her own judgment in the bureaucratic system of the afterlife, where she finds herself in the role of judge and jury to determine the eternal fate of her father, the man responsible for her abuse and death. The play is inspired by a true story. Proceeds from the production will assist WellLife Network to improve and expand its services across Long Island. The contributions will provide urgently needed services that help Long Islanders to heal and recover.
Sexual Trauma Affects the Entire Family
“The issue of family violence affects the entire family,” said Rebecca Costa, Vice President, Long Island Operations. “Our person-centered treatment services serve not only the survivor of sexual trauma but the entire family on their path to recovery and wellness.” Suicide is an all too common result of sexual trauma. WellLife Network has developed workshops and training seminars on suicide prevention that address these issues which are designed for community stakeholders, clinical/non-clinical staff, educators, families and other concerned citizens.
Abusive Behavior Should Never Be Normalized or Supported
Deborah Boatright, a benefit co-chair and board member of WellLife Network, said, “We are thrilled and very honored to have a large portion of the original cast perform this benefit-staged reading for us.” Ashley Griffin’s uplifting play movingly explores the issue of justice vs. mercy and the question: ‘What would a victim decide if they could determine their abuser's eternal fate?’ This ensemble makes a strong statement – with a united voice and as a community.
Boatright reminded us of the shocking statistics - 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually traumatized by the time they are 18. She fervently admonished the audience, “We must be vigilant so that abusive behavior is NEVER normalized or supported. Your being here tonight, your willingness to listen and learn, to ponder and cry and confront the realities of children’s lives through the honesty and rawness that is Trial is a great step.”
Thank You to the Outstanding Cast Members
Sherry Tucker, CEO WellLife Network presented Ashley Griffin and Lori Petty with WellLife's Community Outreach and Partnership Award. It read: "Your profound play heightens awareness of childhood sexual trauma in the community, helps to restore lives and gives a voice to those who need to confront their 'doors locked from the inside'." Lori Petty's award read: "Under your genius direction, the play Trial, a profound and significant message regarding sexual trauma, has been given a voice to new audiences throughout our community."
We thank the cast members who generously gave of their time and talents. Cast members of Trial include: Ryan Clardy* (One Life to Live,) Ashley Griffin* (The Greatest Showman, "Hamlet" in Hamlet,) Steve Hauck* (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,) Shereen Hickman* (Woman/ Margaret,) Vinyetta James (Life Is Hard,) Jeté Laurence (Pet Sematary,)Jennifer Regan* (Born Yesterday,) and Malcolm Stephenson* (Time Stands Still). Madeline O’Hara (Blogologues) was the assistant director and Ashling Costello the stage manager.
*Appear courtesy Actors Equity Association.
Thank You to Our Supporters Who Made It Possible
WellLife Network is grateful for the support from the following individuals, corporations and businesses whose contributions have helped this presentation of Trial be a success.
ABT Appliance & Traders
Bartel Construction Corp.
Bay Carpet and Flooring
Alicia & Steve Bernstein
Lani & Tom Blumberg
Con Rac Construction Group LLC
Nathene Riley Cruz
Lamb Insurance Services
Levy, Stopol & Camelo LLP
Dr. Brian Regan
Stat Rx Pharmacy
TGI Office Automation
The Ray-Block Stationery Co., Inc.
Sherry & Dirk Tucker
Van Security Services
Vassalotti Associates Architects, LLP
Jean & Alan Weinstock
World’s Fair Pharmacy
WellLife also wants to recognize the generous contributions of these businesses who donated catering supplies, food, flowers and wine.
Hither Brook Floral & Gift Boutique
Iavarone Bros Quality Foods
Micah Joel Productions - Photography
Martha Clara Vineyards
WellLife Network is one of the region’s largest and most diversified voluntary, not-for-profit health and human services organizations. Our extensive network of services in mental health, developmental disabilities, family and youth, addiction recovery and residential services assists more than 25,000 individuals and families each year. WellLife Network programs are licensed and approved for service by numerous governmental organizations and on Long Island work in partnership with the United Way.
If you would like to make a donation to individuals and families affected by sexual trauma, please click here.
Susana Hall is a vibrant and friendly woman who resides at one of WellLife Network’s 36 residences for individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities. Susana is of Panamanian ancestry and speaks fluently in both English and Spanish. At the residence, Susana is a “Domestic Diva” and loves to help the staff with preparing meals for her housemates. She proudly incorporates her Panamanian ancestry in many of the dishes she prepares. “I love living here,” said Susana, the staff teaches me new things all the time, like how to clean my room and cook new dishes”.
Susana and her housemates have lived together since the residence opened in 2007. She considers them to be an extended family and is looked upon as a “big sister”. Susana’s work day consists of cooking with her “sisters” and volunteering at a nursing home in the community. Her French Toast is considered “the best” in Queens, New York.
Susana greets any visitor to the residence with a warm smile and a big “Hello” and loves showing visitors her bedroom where she very proudly displays mementos from her many trips with her family and housemates. Susana is fortunate to have a very close bond with her large extended family and enjoys traveling on family vacations.
In the future, Susana would like to create a cookbook with all of her favorite recipes to share with family, friends and the community.
To WellLife Network and the staff who assist her, that is what makes Susana One of a Kind.
"Working at WellLife Network all these years is like being part of a family. We respect each other's talents, skills and ability, as a team, to make a difference in the lives
of the people we serve." - Durpatee Roopnarine, Program Director
WellLife Network honored 28 loyal employees who have worked for the agency 15, 20, 25 and 30 years at its Annual Staff Longevity Luncheon, organized by the HR Department on February 22, 2018. Collectively, the staff brings more than 535 years of program and support services – ranging from residential, day habilitation to case management, pre-vocational training, infrastructure services and more.
Our Honorees are an Inspiration
Ann Marie Barbarotta, COO thanked each of the staff members for their loyalty and faithfulness to WellLife Network. “Thank you for your loyalty and years of dedicated effort to our mission," said Barbarotta. "What you each do is significant and that is the definition of success. You are an inspiration to me and the entire WellLife Network Staff.”
Honorees were given a Certificate of Appreciation, an honorarium and for those serving 30 years a beautiful crystal clock. Honorees spoke of their journey at WellLife Network and how their efforts made a steadfast impact on the lives of thousands of individuals we serve each day.
Improving Lives was Linda's Dream
Linda Iannatto, Utilization Review Coordinator, a 20-year veteran, noted that working for WellLife Network all of these years is like working with family. “I gave up a career in business to be able to help people," stated Linda. Money did not matter to Linda, nor a bigger paycheck. She went back to school to earn a Masters in Rehabilitation and realized her dream of helping individuals in need. At WellLife Network, Linda works in the Quality Assurance Department.
Join us in congratulating the following staff who each day empower individuals to lead more independent lives. Their talents and skills strengthen our outreach to the communities we serve and demonstrate that, as an agency, we truly embrace our mission of helping individuals realize their full potential by achieving meaningful life goals.
Few things are more sad than to know that an innocent child has been victimized by sexual violence. At age ten, Felix lost his innocence when a family member molested him at a birthday party. Felix is now a sad statistic of one in seven boys, under the age of 18, who have experienced sexual abuse. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that in 2017 there have been more than 200,000 reported cases of childhood abuse and molestation in New York State. Thousands more go unreported.
One in five children in your community has been sexually traumatized. We also know that the effects of this experience are long-lasting. Many children who are abused turn to drugs, alcohol or even attempt suicide when they reach their teens.
Each year, WellLife Network helps young boys and girls – like Felix – to heal, recover and become survivors. As a WellLife Network supporter, you can help children and their families overcome their fears and horrific memories.
Join Us for a Benefit Performance of TRIAL
This March, we are sponsoring the highly acclaimed play called TRIAL, written by Ashley Griffin (The Greatest Showman, "Hamlet" in Hamlet) and directed by Lori Petty (Orange Is the New Black, Gotham). Trial will be performed on Thursday, March 28, 2019, 7:00 PM at the Tilles Center in Brookville, Long Island. Both Ashley and Lori are dedicated to educating the public about childhood sexual trauma. WellLife Network is proud and fortunate to partner with these and other outstanding performers in getting this vital message out to the community.
Your support helps WellLife Network to improve and expand its services across Long Island. The contribution you generously offer provides urgently needed services that help Long Islanders to heal and recover.
Here's How You Can Help
Help us with a tax-deductible donation:
- $175 - 1 Ticket to the play offers you orchestra views and VIP status to an exclusive wine and dine cocktail "Talk-Back" session.
- $1,000 - become an "Advocate" and receive 2 Tickets and VIP status where you can meet the actors of TRIAL and have photo opportunities with the actors.
- $2,500 - become a "Champion" and receive 4 Tickets, all of the benefits from the above levels, plus a box of 8 beautiful note cards inspired by program participant art.
- $5,000 - become a "Crusader" and receive all of the benefits above plus special podium and journal recognition and your name permanently inscribed on our Tree of Life leaves at our Huntington facility.
Your gift today makes a big difference tomorrow and every day!
Donate or buy tickets by clicking here today!