Patricia first came to Harlem United a year into her recovery, hoping to not just survive but thrive, and one of the first programs that she connected with was art therapy.
“Some things that I did were self-destructive and I’m not going to be able to cure that right away. Working on yourself doesn’t happen overnight.” Addiction led to risky sex and other behaviors with results that Patricia is not happy about, including an HIV diagnosis. Which is why some of her art takes an activist stance.
One of her earlier pieces is a pop art - activist mashup, ...
Ellen will be quick to tell you that she’s not an artist, but her dozens of paintings over the past thirteen years tell a different tale.
When she first started in the art therapy program in 2004, she says that she didn’t really know what she was doing. “I was just throwing paint on. But I kept coming back every time that I could.” Today, Ellen paints with skill and focus, selecting the subjects of her paintings with care and consideration and always trying to learn something new — from Donna, our art therapist, and also from her fellow artists.
It’s been 17 years since Gwen joined the Harlem United family, and she has spent each and every one reaching out to her community to lend a hand.
You know how when you meet some people, there's a spark inside of them? You can almost feel it? That's how I feel about working with Lisa Hood and Phil Gyura. Two weeks ago, they were honored by CHCANYS—the Community Health Care Association of New York State—as part of a Health Care for the Homeless Celebration during Community Health Center Week.
Lisa engages clients with a level of professionalism that everyone deserves, but that too few who find themselves struggling with the issues related to homelessness receive. Her professional standard is an example to ...
We lost a great one. Father John McNeill, S.J. was an openly gay moral theologian, psychotherapist and Jesuit priest, who helped to found the Upper Room AIDS Ministry—which later became Harlem United. At the height of the AIDS epidemic in New York City, many agencies were turning away those who needed care the most. That just wouldn’t do for Fr. McNeil and the others who founded the Upper Room AIDS Ministry. They believed that we are in this together and set out to offer hope, health, and healing to Harlem and beyond.
Fr. John McNeill passed away late last month at ...
Olga Ambert Keber came to Harlem United in 2007 as a social worker. She worked as a case manager at El Faro for three years before she was promoted to Director of Operations where she remained for another 3 years. “I worked in El Faro, I got to speak Spanish, and I immediately took to my clients.”
After the Affordable Care Act was passed, Olga moved to 306 Lenox to head the Managed Care department. The position present a range of new challenges that Olga had to tackle, one by one—starting with staying on top of the insurance companies to make their payments.
David Lopez has been passionate about HIV and AIDS work from a young age. He started working as a volunteer at LYRIC in San Francisco at age 15. Later, he continued his AIDS education work at Project Bienestar when he moved to Los Angeles a few years later. When he came to New York City—after being inspired by a class trip to the city—he had only $1,000 in his pocket.
Quickly, he found a job at AIDS Service Center as a health educator, and then as a program manager for outreach and testing. Finally, he finally found his calling in program design, an area where he ...
Arleen came to Harlem United as a temp in 2006. For the past nine years, the front desk on the second floor of 306 Lenox Avenue has slowly become her “home.” Arleen knows how to hold down the fort and she does so with grace and her signature easy going attitude. In fact, she is so valued here at Harlem United that she has been asked time and again to move into different departments, but each time she has refused.
“The clients who come in here make my day. I could be having a bad day and one of my favorite clients will walk through the door and make it all ...
Hilda Meza joined Harlem United in 2006, when our El Faro Health Center opened, and has been our east side art therapist ever since. Hilda is an avid a painter herself—she makes time to paint everyday—and knows the important role art plays in helping us connect to our emotional experiences.
“For the clients, art becomes the language. The best part is seeing the range of talent, and seeing that creating is a beautiful process.”
Indeed, art therapists are trained to follow the patterns in their clients’ creations. For example, water often signifies depression or ...
Shortly thereafter, she opened a restaurant on 128th St. specializing in West African cuisine.
She started at Harlem United 15 years ago as a volunteer, at the urging of a friend, who told her Harlem United needed women who spoke French. She worked with the African women program, BONDALA, and the Immigrant Women Program, reaching out to sexually-active African American women, many of whom did not speak English.
“I immediately loved taking care of people. I started working five hours per week, then it turned into 10. Finally, it made sense to give up the restaurant. ...