Hear What CMHS Staff Have to Say About Our Newly Renovated Bronx FRIENDS Office!

To help enhance the VNSNY employee experience, some Community Mental Health Services employees are coming back to find an all new, updated workspace at the F.R.I.E.N.D.S. Clinic on East 153rd Street in the South Bronx.

The clinic is home to a number of CMHS programs, including VNSNY’s Geriatric Outreach and Children’s Mobile Crisis Teams. Over the past few months, VNSNY Facilities staff have worked to update much of the office space, creating a cleaner, brighter and more welcoming workplace atmosphere.

But don’t take our word for it: Our Frontline Roving Reporter recently sat down with a number of CMHS staff to get the inside scoop! Scroll down to hear what your colleagues had to say about their renovated office, and to see photos of the new and improved space!

 

Chelsea Feliciano, Social Work Assistant, Children and Family Support Team

“I started working at this office in July of 2019, and this is a major, major change. They removed the old carpeting, we have more updated cubicles now, and everything looks newer, more modernized, and more professional like we’re catching up. It makes me feel comfortable working here again. With the new desk dividers, I feel a little more protected coming back into the office, especially as a field worker. I’m glad to come back now that I’ve seen it like this.”

 

Joanny Nunez, Family Advocate, Children’s Mobile Crisis Team

“Having no carpet now feels cleaner, less dusty, and I haven’t had any problems with allergies like I used to. I think taking out the rug has done wonders, but it’s just great to be back with my co-workers. It was a rough year doing everything through video and phone, and I like the fact that I get to see everybody now. I feel they did a great job with distancing and the new look of the place.”

 

Salvador Garcia, Mental Health Specialist II, Children and Family Support Team/FRIENDS Clinician 

“The place looks beautiful now. I think it shows how VNSNY cares, not only for its workers but also for our clients. And to me, this is also something symbolic, right? A new beginning, a new start, after everything horrible during the pandemic. I think I’m closer with my clients as well, compared to working from home, and of course I now have interactions with my colleagues. I think working with them face to face makes things a lot easier. We are social beings, and having those interactions helps us grow in many ways, I missed coming to the office for that reason. Seeing this building rebuilt is proof that VNSNY has a futuristic view of the type of work we do, and I’m really grateful for it.”

 

Karen Raynor-Hicks, Senior Social Work Assistant, Home Based Crisis Intervention Program

“The FRIENDS building is cleaner, fresher and with the drop-in stations you have space to come in to do work. With the Home Based Crisis Intervention Program, we see clients 3 visits per week, and during the pandemic we had to transition from making visits to doing telehealth, which was a big adjustment for our program as well as the clients/families we serve. It’s now easier for me to come to the office, complete paperwork and then make visits. It’s also great seeing my colleagues in person again!”

 

Magda Lopez, Social Work Assistant, Home Based Crisis Intervention Program

“I started at this office just before the pandemic, and it’s so different now! Coming back and seeing all of the differences, being able to see all of our co-workers, that’s amazing. I love the fact that we can come in and everything looks clean, it invites you to come back and work. Having conversations and everything again, it’s really nice.”

 

 

Neiko Roman, Family Advocate, Children’s Mobile Crisis Team

“There’s definitely been some improvements aesthetically. This flooring is better than the carpet that used to be here. And having things a little more centralized again makes things easier too, because we have a lot of paperwork, which we have to scan and upload after we finish our cases. Now we can go back to documenting our usual way, which we obviously didn’t have when we were working from home.”

 

Evelyn Pozo, Psychiatric Social Worker, Geriatric Mental Health Initiative

“I think there’s definitely been a bit of improvement—the floors look great now, and I like how each desk space has new USB adapters, which is really cool. The office is more of a space where you’re not distracted by your own living environment, too. I think you become a little more drained when you’re at home doing everything 24/7. Working at the office gives you that distance. I’m looking forward to interacting with my co-workers again too, our little community, I did miss that a lot.”

 

Josephine Rodriguez, Program Assistant, Bronx Mobile Crisis Unit

“The office used to look a little dark. You’d just come in, do what you needed to do, then leave. Compared to now, it’s night and day—really, really nice. It’s very bright, it’s very clean. Just painting the walls makes it more open and welcoming for people to come in. And coming back to the office is better for getting work done—to copy, to scan, to fax—and for seeing everyone you haven’t seen for a year or two. It feels like the family is back! We’re all together, and I love it. I’m happy about that.”

 

Carmen Tirado, Mental Health Specialist I, Geriatric Outreach Program

“When I first started here, it was a working space and I got used to it, but it looks nice now—it’s cleaner, the flooring is better, and the elevator is nice. Now I can come here in the morning, do my paperwork, and then go out in the field. It was strange at first, getting into my old routine after a year at home, but that’s been the best part. I also get to see my co-workers again, which was important to me.”

 

Susan Clayton Meyer, LCAT, RDT, Program Manager, CMHS Geriatric Programs, Bronx

“The new space is very clean and I like the floors better. I had missed the in-person connections with other people while working remotely, too. Coming back here and sitting down had a sense of comfort: it’s familiar, even if it looks different. You do have a sense that you can collaborate a little more, too—and I didn’t realize I’d be so excited to see people again!”

 

Check out the new and improved space below!