Shana’s Story

I have been challenged with addiction for 10 years, and have been in and out of outpatient treatment and detox several times – but I would always relapse.

When I arrived at Morning Star, I was at the lowest point in my life. Things were spiraling out of control. My four children had been taken from me and placed in foster care with a family member. And then I learned that I was 5 months pregnant.

I arrived with the worst attitude in the world. I was just so angry all the time. But at Morning Star, I started to reflect and gain clarity. I realized that I was hurt and angry with myself. And that’s when the healing began. Everything had been a fight up to that point. But I had nowhere to run – I had to face my problems.

Morning Star helped save my life. They never gave up on me.

Every interaction with my counselor and every staff member helped prepare me to re-enter the world clean and ready to thrive.

I attended treatment 5 days a week, attended a medical assistant program, and became certified in a workforce development program for nontraditional roles for women. And I learned that I am worth it! From now on, I show up, set up, and remain teachable.

When my baby, Liliana, was born, I can’t express how much the onsite child care at Morning Star II helped in my recovery. It made it possible for me to go to treatment, attend school, and focus on me. The structure kept me accountable for being a parent and prepared e for the real world.

I knew I was finally on a path to a better life when I left Morning Star. The court saw the improvements in me, too, and my children came back home to me. I never thought that would happen. Today, thanks to Morning Star, I have a home and my family lives under one roof.

I still visit the program to let them know of my progress. My goal is to be fully self-supported. I know there will be obstacles ahead of me. But I am prepared to take it one day at a time.

Jasmine’s Story

I entered foster care at 16 years old and was placed in the home of “Aunt” Nessa, as I liked to call her. Few people knew of my situation; it was our little secret. I was embarrassed by the family dysfunction that led me to this strange place in my life, and with the support of my SCO caseworkers, I realized that education was my way out.

My goal was to attend Spelman College. I faced some naysayers; guidance counselors who said it was too expensive, others who felt I would never get in. But my SCO caseworkers and staff supported my decision. They stayed on top of me, making sure I filled out every document and scholarship. It was the staff’s unwavering support and positive reinforcement that sustained me.

I was accepted to Spelman with scholarships from several organizations as well as financial support from SCO’s education and permanency program, which helped me afford my housing.

But that was just the start of my journey. During summer break, I earned an internship volunteering with foster youth and their families through AmeriCorps that changed my life. I didn’t want any special treatment, so no one at my job was aware of my status as a foster youth. But as I worked in the family visiting room, much like a fly on the wall, I watched young people about my age visiting with the children they had lost custody of, some pregnant again. I saw a vicious cycle happening before my eyes.

It was that summer I realized that as a woman of color, as a foster youth, and as a human being who just cares, it would be a disservice if I didn’t take advantage of my unique pairing of lived experiences and desire to affect change.

Today, I am at Teachers College Columbia University earning my Masters in Clinical Psychology on a full scholarship, so that I, too, can be a source of support for youth in need.

Health Resources

COVID-19 Testing

New York State continues to increase testing capacity for COVID-19 on a daily basis. Use this NYSDOH screening tool to share your symptoms and schedule a COVID-19 test at a New York State-run testing site.

  • If you go to a test site run by New York State, there is never any charge for your test.
  • If you go to a test site operated by local governments, private companies including pharmacies and medical practices, or not-for-profit organizations, you are advised to check with the testing site and your insurer in advance of being tested to confirm you will not be responsible for any fees associated with your test.

New York City

FREE COVID-19 tests are confidential and safe. Visit nyc.gov/covidtest, text “COVID Test” to 855-48, or call 212-COVID19 to find a testing site near you.

Assistance for New Yorkers who test positive for COIVD-19

NYC Health & Hospitals’ Test & Trace Corps is providing special services for New Yorkers who test positive and their close contacts:

    • A free hotel room for up to 14 days if quarantining at home is impossible. Call (212) 268-4319 to book a room.
    • Free dog walking and other pet drop-in services to ensure New Yorkers can remain safely separated in a hotel or at home. Learn more.

​​​​​​​COVID-19 Antibody Screening for New York City Residents

Please note that people under the age of 18 and people who are not NYC residents are not eligible to participate in this program.

New York City offers free antibody testing on a walk-in basis at the 11 acute care facilities of NYC Health + Hospitals and at the Gotham Community Health Center sites listed on the NYC antibody testing webpage.

For more information, call 1-844-NYC-4NYC or visit the NYC antibody testing webpage.

COVID-19 Vaccine

If you have any questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, call the New York State COVID-19 hotline at 833-NYS-4-VAX (833-697-4829).

  • Schedule an appointment to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Participating pharmacies are now offering a second COVID-19 vaccine to individuals who received the first vaccine elsewhere. Participating pharmacies are:

New York City

The Museum of Natural History is providing 1,000 vaccines daily. The site will operate Tuesday – Friday from 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Long Island

  • Northwell Health is administering the COVID-19 vaccine at certain locations in Nassau and Suffolk. Find a location. 
  • Nassau County has several vaccine sites. Check availability and schedule a vaccine appointment at a Nassau County Department of Health location at nassaucountyny.gov/vaccine.
  • Hempstead Town and Mount Sinai South Nassau introduced the “Vaxmobile” – coming to communities near you. Residents who are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine can call a special hotline at (516) 812-3678 (Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) or send an email to [email protected] to be placed on a list to be contacted by Mount Sinai South Nassau when appointments are available.

NYS Department of Health Novel Coronavirus Hotline: 888-364-3065

NYC COVID-19 Information – NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
A Physician’s Guide to COVID-19 – American Medical Association
Frequently Asked Questions about Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) – National Foundation for Infectious Diseases
Coronavirus: What Patients Need to Know – Community Healthcare Network
Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Center for Disease Control and Prevention
Information on Novel Coronavirus – NYS Department of Health
County Health Departments – NYS Department of Health
Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) – NYC Department of Health
Coronavirus Updates for Schools – NYS Center for School Health
How Veterans With Mesothelioma Can Get the COVID-19 Vaccine – Mesothelioma Veterans Center
COVID-19 and Mesothelioma Updates – Mesothelioma.net

Undocumented immigrants should not avoid medical care if they require it. Hospital staff will NOT ask about immigration status and medical care is NOT a “public benefit” under the public charge test. If an undocumented immigrant does not have a doctor or insurance, they can visit a public hospital safely.

Mental Health/Safety Resources

Feeling stressed by the COVID-19 pandemic? You are not alone. Call the NY Project Hope Emotional Support Helpline 7 days a week, 8 a.m.-10 p.m. at 1-844-863-9314, or visit www.nyprojecthope.org.
COVID-19 Resource and Information Guide – National Alliance on Mental Illness
Central Nassau Guidance & Counseling Services
Crisis Counseling: Disaster Distress Helpline (DDH): Call 1-800-985-5990 and text “TalkWithUs” to 66746
Safety Planning for Domestic Violence Survivors
Tech Safety for Victims and Survivors of Domestic Violence
COVID-19: Tips for Mindfulness & Coping with Anxiety – Watch videos 
National Domestic Violence Hotline has 24/7 confidential support for people experiencing domestic violence, seeking resources or information, or questioning unhealthy aspects of their relationship.
RAINN has a 24/7 safe and confidential sexual assault hotline that connects individuals to a local provider who can provide a variety of free resources. Hotline number: 800-656-4673 and online chat
Grief Share hosts free, in-person grief recovery support groups across the country.
NYC Well is your connection to free, confidential mental health support. Speak to a counselor via phone, text, or chat and get access to mental health and substance use services, in more than 200 languages, 24/7/365.
Drug & Alcohol Abuse Hotline– For 24/7 treatment, call 844-616-3400. This is 100% confidential and free.
National Drug Helpline – 24/7 hotline
Live Another Day – An extensive list of mental health and substance use resources specifically for the AAPI (American Asian and Pacific Islander) community.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration – SAMHSA’s national hotline is federally funded and provides those with mental health or substance abuse disorders guidance and options for them to seek help. Call (800-662-4357).
New York State now has a text program and confidential online service for victims of domestic violence. Text 844-997-2121 for help or go to http://opdv.ny.gov to chat.

Health Benefits

Changes to Public Benefits Programs in NYC

Shana’s Story

"Morning Star helped save my life. They never gave up on me."

I know there will be obstacles ahead of me. But I am prepared to take it one day at a time. Learn More

Jasmine’s Story

Foster Care staff helps Jasmine turn lived experience to advocacy for others

It was the staff’s unwavering support and positive reinforcement that sustained me. Learn More

95%

of women in our residential recovery program remained substance free

96%

of 12th graders in Family Foster Care graduated high school; 61% are enrolled in post-secondary education

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