Vibrant partners with parents and caregivers to deliver support and connect them with resources to help them on their parenting journey.

Mothering doesn’t come with a rule book. Because my mom had me at the young age of 16, she mothered me just as her mom did to her. Enrolling in Family Link gave me the space and ability to access and express feelings about my childhood. Our work together helped me to see the damage that had been done when I was young. It helped me not repeat those same mistakes with my own kids. 

Three years ago, I lost my fiance. That was a traumatic situation for my kids and me. He died in the home on his birthday. During this tough time, one of my co-workers introduced me to Vibrant and its Family Link program. My kids and I already had an outstanding relationship, but the work we’ve done with Family Link helped to improve our bond, and to grow and heal together. 

Working with the Family Link staff helped me to open up and share things. I now understand my children more. I’m 33 years old. My oldest son is 12 and my youngest son is 5. Our bond is amazing. They feel a freedom to express themselves to me. I never had those opportunities. I was afraid to speak up when I was a kid. I want my own sons to feel they can tell me whatever they want.

I’m a single parent. That’s hard -- it wasn’t my plan, but when my fiance passed away, single parenting became the reality. It can be challenging. It’s always, “Mommy, mommy, mommy!” all the time. Working with Family Link helps me access other skills -- patience and understanding -- that I need a lot of when I’m the only person in charge. The staff at Vibrant and its Family Link program have helped me gain access to helpful information about how to deal with boys becoming teenagers. The Family Link staff help me maintain good communication with my sons despite whatever transitions they’re going through.

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When the pandemic began, NYC Well, New York City's flagship go-to-resource for confidential mental health support, crisis intervention, and connection to services, had just five days to shift more than 100 crisis counselors to remote work, all while continuing to provide this lifesaving service. Katherine Polanco, Operations Manager for NYC Well, tells us how she and the counselors adapted to meet the needs of her staff, and the people they serve, practically overnight.

March 2020 was the beginning of the pandemic and New York City was at the epicenter of the global crisis. There was so much fear on the streets, in homes and across offices. No one knew what was coming and what impact it would have on all our lives. This was the backdrop NYC Well operated under in the early days of the pandemic. As New York City’s free, comprehensive crisis and support line administered by Vibrant, we knew we had to move our team to an all-virtual work environment, and it had to happen fast. We couldn’t afford to not deliver our essential services.

Over the course of just five head-spinning days in mid-March, our IT and HR departments worked around the clock preparing to transition our 100 hotline counselors into a remote workforce. This included procuring and setting up hundreds of additional headsets, computer monitors, and laptops. Our counselors remained committed to meeting the growing needs of New Yorkers, taking calls from the office until they received the necessary supplies to work remotely. And in a city where most people don’t have cars, they had to be creative to transport their devices home. I’ll never forget watching several of them pack a laptop into a backpack, a computer monitor in one hand, as they headed out the door to the subway. Their commitment ensured the hotline could respond to the spike in call volume caused by the threat of COVID-19.

As the pandemic continues, so too does the overwhelming need for NYC Well’s emotional health services. We have responded by tripling our staff, from 100 to more than 200 crisis counselors. Being able to meet the increased demand for our services has been gratifying. Our counselors are providing support to New Yorkers in emotional distress and helping people find the resources they need. This has never been more important than during this time. The counselors are the mental health heroes of this pandemic.

While this has been an intense and challenging chapter for everyone. I am proud of how our team adapted, without interrupting the support we provide to New Yorkers. We have demonstrated what we always say -- that NYC Well is here for you, no matter the time of day or the crisis you are facing. We show up for you and we give you our all.