WellLife Network on-field representatives: (L-R) Sherry Tucker, CEO; Steve Bernstein, President, S.J. Bee LLC and WellLife Board Member; Ben Blumberg, Partner, Stark Office Suites and WellLife Supporter; Michael Lamberg, Regional Sales Manager, Lamb Insurance Services and WellLife Associate Board Member; Bradley Bernstein, Associate, Goldman Sachs and WellLife Associate Board Member; and James Cusato, WellLife program resident.
Thousands cheered on September 8th as the New York Mets recognized WellLife Network with its Mets Spirit Award at CitiField in Flushing, Queens. The Mets generously donated a portion of their proceeds to support services at WellLife Network.
The turnout was amazing! More than 300 seats assigned to WellLife Network and its supporters were filled. WellLife was well represented by its program participants, Board of Directors, Associate Board, staff, family and friends.
Pregame Ceremony Honors WellLife Network
In a pregame ceremony, six WellLife representatives were honored on the home plate as Mets officials recognized WellLife Network with its Spirit Award as Nonprofit of the Game. It was an exciting experience as WellLife Network was prominently featured on the Citi Vision jumbo scoreboard. WellLife received a plaque commemorating this day and each of the six honorees accepted a ceremonial mini-bat. The six on-field WellLife Network representatives included: Sherry Tucker, CEO, WellLife; Steve Bernstein, President, S.J. Bee LLC and WellLife Board Member; Ben Blumberg, Partner, Stark Office Suites and WellLife Supporter; Michael Lamberg, Regional Sales Manager, Lamb Insurance Services and WellLife Associate Board Member; Bradley Bernstein, Associate, Goldman Sachs and WellLife Associate Board Member and James Cusato, WellLife program resident.
Some 300 WellLife Network supporters - board, staff, family and friends cheer on the Mets.
This was a fantastic day for WellLife Network. The Mets squared off with the Phillies and WellLife Network was able to build awareness about the “good” work that it accomplishes each and every day.
WellLife Network, one of the region’s largest nonprofits, proudly announces that it is the recipient of the 2019 Platinum GuideStar Nonprofit Profile Seal of Transparency. This award is the highest level of recognition offered by GuideStar, 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, andawards ratings resulting from the level of transparency in reporting. Only two percent of the more than 38,000 nonprofits evaluated by GuideStar, nationwide, have achieved this Platinum rating.
“This award is timely as our agency enters a value-based programming model,” said Sherry Tucker, CEO of WellLife Network. “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 as well as GuideStar's immense online audience, which includes donors, grant makers and our peers. This highly-regarded recognition is further validation of WellLife Network’s steadfast commitment to upholding operational transparency, accountability and improved performance.”
In addition to transparency, the organization excels in the effective use of funds. Over 87% of all expenses go directly to program services.
About WellLife Network
WellLife Network, is proud of its services to 25,000 New Yorkers each year and its leadership role in the development of new models of care. Our broad network of high quality, outcome-based behavioral health, disabilities, children and family, housing, addiction recovery 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.
America is mourning the senseless loss of innocent lives as a result of a series of horrific mass shootings. In the heated discussions that follow these tragic events, the media and politicians often focus their attention on the mentally ill as the responsible parties. This negative attention stigmatizes the mentally ill and distracts from the difficult national discussion about guns and violence. The facts about violence and the mentally ill are clear.
Individuals with Mental Illness Represent a Small Percentage of those Responsible for Violence in the U.S.
The mentally ill are only responsible for a small fraction of the violence in our country. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, individuals with mental illness are responsible for only 3-5% of violent acts. In fact, 75% of all mass shootings are perpetrated by individuals without a history of mental illness. A 2018 report on mass shootings from the FBI “found that only 25% of active shooters had a mental illness”. Mood disorders, PTSD and a small percentage of psychotic disorders like schizophrenia along with co-occurring substance use disorders were identified in this group.
The Mentally Ill are More Likely to Be Victims than Perpetrators
Psychiatrist, Dr. Michael Stone has been studying violence in the mentally ill for many years and he estimates that the rate is only 20%. Because the mentally ill are responsible for a smaller percentage of mass shootings, mental health experts believe that although needed, additional mental health service will not change the trajectory of this violence and is not the overall solution to the problem. In other nations where the rates of mental illness are similar to the United States, mass shootings by the mentally ill are extremely rare because access to firearms in these countries is limited. Despite these data, people struggling with serious mental illness continue to be scapegoated and labeled as violent. The reality is that the mentally ill are more vulnerable than the population at large and are 10 times more likely to be the victims of a violent act.
In the United States, mental health issues and firearms are more firmly linked to suicide. Of the 40,000 gun deaths in 2017, over 23,000 were the results of suicides. Unfortunately, stigma continues to prevent some with mental health issues from accessing life saving treatment.
We in the WellLife Network have the privilege of serving a diverse population. The high quality of care we provide throughout the agency speaks for itself. The work we do with consumers helps to combat stigma and changes lives for the better. Regardless of job title, each of us in our own way makes an important contribution to the wellness of the individuals we serve.
Howell Schrage, M.D.
Medical Director, WellLife Network
"I love this event," exclaimed Jose R., a resident of WellLife Network's OMNI residence. "I would like to experience events like this every other week!"
On July 29, WellLife Network celebrated Minority Mental Health Awareness Month at its OMNI Residence. In the human services field, the word "minority" reflects a broad range of meanings, including individuals with mental health challenges.
Honoring Traditions - Celebrating Differences
The residents of OMNI thought it would be an excellent opportunity to celebrate this occasion with a barbeque, honoring their cultures and traditions. Clients shared their family's country of origin and other cultural highlights of their childhood. Each attendee was encouraged to craft their birthplace flag to help them generate a feeling of pride. Residents also engaged in gross motor activities that helped them to build trust with staff and with their house peers.
Trust building activities included a water balloon toss and a blindfolded obstacle course. The "minefield" course was an exercise where one blindfolded client navigates through obstacles. Their only guidance was the sound of their partner's voice. These engaging, trust-building activities were reinforced with prizes and gifts. Clients enjoyed a healthful lunch that was graciously prepared by OMNI employees.
Residents' reactions said it all. Angel R. proclaimed, "Making my flag of Puerto Rico made me feel fulfilled and motivated me to compete for prizes." Maria L. declared, "I enjoyed the food served by the WellLife staff. If there were another event of this sort, I would definitely attend".
Fostering Communication and Trust
In an environment that focuses on client-centered activities, the Minority Mental Health Celebration was a positive step in fostering communication, trust and increased interaction amongst residents. The feedback on a post-event survey indicated a very high approval rating. WellLife Network plans to establish the Minority Mental Health Awareness Month as an annual event at its residences.
WellLife Network offers a broad range of behavioral health residential and other services to some 25,000 each year who face mental health, developmental disabilities and addiction recovery challenges. For further information on WellLife Network's behavioral health services go to: https://www.welllifenetwork.org/what_we_do/behavioral_health
WellLife Network Day Habilitation programs celebrated "Father's Day 2019" with a variety of creative remembrances for the man of the day. Our Day Habilitation programs at Astoria, 117th Street and Station Road prepared door hangings, hand-made keychain gifts and beautifully decorated note cards.
Father's Day has a long history and began as a commemoration of the passing of 200 fathers who had died in a mining explosion in Monongah, West Virginia, on December 6, 1907. It would be described as "the worst mining disaster in American History".
Although the Fairmont commemoration was the first known to honor fathers, it did not turn into an annual event until 1966 when President Lyndon Johnson issued a proclamation designating the third Sunday in June to honor fathers.
In 1972, President Richard Nixon signed a law declaring that Father’s Day would be celebrated annually on the third Sunday in June. It has been an official, permanent national holiday ever since.
WellLife Network's Day Habilitation and Community Habilitation services offer one-on-one life skills coaching to some 300 individuals with intellectual/ developmental disabilities in the community and at their homes. Together, WellLife Network counselors and individuals develop person-centered goals to create experiences that are enjoyable and educational. Participants gain better social and vocational skills while developing greater independence in the community.
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.