214 W 29th Street 8th Floor
New York, NY 10001
Phone: (212) 219-1618
Fax: (212) 219-2087
Comunilife’s mission is to improve the quality of life and create a healthier tomorrow for children, adolescents, adults, families and seniors living with mental illness and/or HIV/AIDS in New York City’s underserved, diverse communities.
Comunilife was originally incorporated as Health Industry Resources Enterprises (H.I.R.E.), Inc. in 1989 by its founders, Doctor Rosa M. Gil, its current President, and Mr. Alfredo Arango, retired Executive Director. With each passing year, Comunilife reaffirms its steadfast commitment to enhance the quality of life and create a healthier tomorrow for the underserved children, adolescents, adults, and families living with special needs in New York City. The agency provides quality, culturally-competent, community-based services and supports by a committed, professional staff uniquely qualified to communicate with program participants in their language and cultural context. This mission constitutes the governing principle that guides the design and implementation of Comunilife’s programs.
Comunilife is a not-for-profit organization implementing President Gil’s vision to expand access to the continuum of housing, health, behavioral health, rehabilitation, and social services to children, adolescents, adults, and families living with mental illness, addictive disorders, HIV/AIDS, and homelessness. At the core of this vision is Comunilife’s guiding philosophy to enable individuals to live independent, productive lives in their own communities by tapping their resiliency and mobilizing the social capital of their communities.
Comunilife and its affiliate not-for-profits, Home Assistance Technicians, Inc. (H.A.T.) and Taste of the Bronx, Inc. (T.O.B.), currently provide services for more than 1,800 New York City residents through 19 programs in 13 sites located in the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan. More than half of its clientele is Hispanic with limited English-speaking proficiency, and more than 40% is African-American.
Since its inception, Comunilife has distinguished itself for being at the forefront of culturally appropriate services for its diverse clientele, who represent the rainbow that is New York City. In 1993, the agency was selected to participate in a national demonstration program funded by the National Coalition of Hispanic Health and Human Services as one of the sites to provide culturally appropriate education to health care professionals involved in the delivery of preventive health care to Hispanics. The agency was responsible for the incorporation of culturally specific beliefs and cognitive maps among Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Central Americans, and other recent immigrants into the training curriculum.
In 2003, the Agency’s Board of Directors approved the development of the Multicultural Policy and Plan, which was implemented throughout the organization. One of its goals was to enhance awareness and knowledge of relevant cultural issues for all program participants. The Agency has now developed Comunilife’s Multicultural Relational Approach Educational Program to enhance professionals’ and paraprofessionals’ ability to integrate culturally appropriate information to their work with program participants such as engagement, psychosocial assessments, treatment plans, and outcomes of clinical interventions. Post-evaluations of the acquisition and application of knowledge taught in the educational program demonstrates a strongly positive impact on the clinical outcomes as well as on Comunilife’s organizational culture. The overall effectiveness of the Multicultural Relational Approach framework is measured through the Quality Improvement Program of the Agency and detailed in the Quarterly Report to the Board of Director’s Quality Improvement Committee.
Foreign-born psychologists are placed in Comunilife Programs as part of a collaboration with New York University Medical School, Department of Psychiatry, to develop expertise in evidence-based practice working with Hispanic patients. In addition, Comunilife has been collaborating since the mid 1990’s with the Schools of Social Work of both Columbia and Fordham Universities to provide internships for graduate students that need to develop expertise delivering services to patients from diverse populations.
Comunilife has collaborated with Dartmouth University since 2003 as the only multicultural team in New York State to participate in a national pilot program that implemented an Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) Toolkit for the Assertive Community Treatment Program (ACT), an evidence-based practice that has demonstrated its effectiveness through reduced hospitalizations while promoting recovery through work and independent living. Moreover, the agency also established collaborations with the Family Institute for Education of the University of Rochester and with the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill of New York State to implement a family psycho-education program that is an evidence-based practice as well.
Comunilife and the City of New York have been partners since 2004 in the President’s Family Justice Center Initiative funded by the United States Department of Justice to provide comprehensive services to survivors of domestic violence and abuse. Under this Program, Comunilife will provide the housing component.
The years ahead bring cause for optimism. Comunilife has grown strong and will continue to set powerful, healthy roots to help our communities bear fruit by investing in the most important resource of all, people.
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