Mayor and first lady announce $200,000 for mental health in Puerto Rico
The New York Daily News - 11/10/2018
Nov. 10--The city will donate $100,000 to help fund mental health services in Puerto Rico through its non-profit, The Mayor's Fund to Advance the City of New York, Mayor de Blasio and his wife Chirlane McCray, the fund's chairwoman, announced Friday.
The money will be matched with another $100,000 from the Hispanic Federation.
"We say with warmth and with love and with joy, we call Puerto Rico the sixth borough and we feel that close, that close," de Blasio said. "We all feel so deeply connected. When the hurricane hit, it was like it hit us."
The actual announcement of the funding was made not by the mayor but by McCray -- who in addition to chairing the Mayor's Fund also runs a city mental health program called Thrive NYC.
"Healing emotional pain is not like rebuilding homes or cell towers or roads. The terrible losses, the trauma, the stress of an event like this have long lasting consequences and it takes time for people to realize that they need help for those things that are internal," McCray said.
The gift also represented a bit of city business for de Blasio and McCray -- who are at the politics-focused Somos conference on the city dime, according to City Hall. Also traveling to Puerto Rico on the city dime are press staffers for de Blasio and McCray, and top aides Jon Paul Lupo and Marcio Carrion.
A City Hall spokeswoman said Lupo and Carrion are staffing de Blasio "as he meets with other elected officials," and are holding their own "official meetings" at Somos as well.
The money will go to an organization called HealthproMed, specifically to clinics in the islands of Vieques and Culebra. The Vieques clinic will use the funding to have two psychologists, including one dedicated to children, on hand every week -- up from one once a week.
A psychiatrist will also be at the clinic at least twice a month, the city said. In Culebra, the clinic -- which is operating on a generator, will be able to add a psychiatrist twice a month and increase its mental health schedule.
McCray said Puerto Rico was the first place she and de Blasio traveled on vacation as a couple.
"We have so many friends and people who work with us who have family here, I don't think I can overstate the closeness of these communities to us," she said.
De Blasio ripped President Trump for the federal response to the storm -- saying it would have been vastly different if a state like Connecticut had faced such devastation.
"It's all about race and ethnicity and language and it's not acceptable, it should be one standard for all Americans, and theres's still so much work to be done that has not been done," he said.
McCray presented the organization with a giant check. In turn the clinic provided them with a nicely wrapped gift -- artwork of a coqui frog made out of pieces of wood from trees felled by the storm.
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