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Our Stories

Staff Spotlight: Vanessa Salazar Celebrates 19 Years At BFL

February 26, 2020 Our Stories 0 Comments
Vanessa Salazar first joined Barrier Free Living as a volunteer in 2001, working at the agency's former Transitional Housing program on the Lower East Side. Over the years, she has matured as a woman and a team member, giving birth to her first child in 2006 and shifting from administrative work to becoming a Housing Case Manager at Freedom House in 2016. We spoke with Vanessa about her journey at… read more

Donated Coats & Scarves Bring Warmth To Barrier Free Living Programs

February 3, 2020 Current Events, Our Stories 0 Comments
Donated coats and scarves warmed the hearts of residents and tenants at our programs for survivors of domestic violence with disabilities this past week. New York Cares Coat Drive delivered 200 coats to adults and kids, and the Bryant Park Corp. donated just as many hand-knitted scarves to the people we serve. Learn how to make a difference and… read more

Barrier Free Living Staff Spotlight: Simone Allen, Occupational Therapy Manager

January 21, 2020 Our Stories 0 Comments
Simone Allen joined the Barrier Free Living team as the new Occupational Therapy (OT) manager this January, bringing with her a wealth of experience and a healthy dose of curiosity. Simone took over the role when OT manager Patricia Motus headed to the West Coast in December 2019, after 15 years of service. (Read Patricia's profile story.) BFL: What led you to apply to Barrier Free Living? Simone: My old… read more

Barrier Free Living’s Freedom House: Domestic Violence Survivor Spotlight

January 14, 2020 Domestic Violence and Disabilities, Our Stories 0 Comments
"Working with Angela has given me a much greater awareness of the needs of a very under-served population.  Regardless of the roadblocks, she remains positive and optimistic, refusing to settle for anything less than her dreams." Larry Wilson (pictured above) MHC-LP, Social Worker, Barrier Free Living's Freedom House domestic violence shelter. Barrier Free Living's team works with survivors of domestic violence with disabilities at our three programs through the year. Angela, a resident… read more

Staff Spotlight: Patricia Motus

December 11, 2019 Our Stories 0 Comments
Patricia at the 2010 Barrier Free Living Staff Appreciation Awards Patricia Motus, who joined the Barrier Free Living (BFL) team as director of the Occupational Therapy (OT) program in 2004, will be heading to the West Coast this month. Barrier Free Living has been working with survivors of domestic violence with disabilities for nearly 40 years, and has always considered the Occupational Therapy team’s work a great contribution to the mission. Motus began her career… read more

BFL Volunteer Spotlight: Sophie Horrocks

December 9, 2019 Our Stories 0 Comments
    After 40 years of working with survivors of domestic violence, the volunteer support for Barrier Free Living's programs is stronger than ever. Case in point: Sophie Horrocks, a student in Global Innovation Design who discovered our agency and wanted to use her skills to support our mission.  She signed on… read more

Emily’s Journey: Survivor Spotlight (Part 2)

October 15, 2019 Domestic Violence and Disabilities, Our Stories 0 Comments
This week, we feature part two of Barrier Free Living board member Emily’s inspiring story. After finding a safe space for healing at our Freedom House and Secret Garden programs, Emily began the next steps in her journey. Forgiveness & Healing The abuse that I survived was unbearable. I thought I’d never get out. Even after I began my true healing, I was still haunted by my abuser. I’d see him in my… read more

Emily: A Survivor’s Journey

October 10, 2019 Domestic Violence and Disabilities, Our Stories 0 Comments
The photo is from our Freedom House virtual tour film, and is representational only, per confidentiality. A survivor, a one-time resident of Barrier Free Living’s Freedom House and now a member of our Board of Directors, Emily shares her intense, inspiring journey, as part our domestic violence awareness month coverage. I grew up in an unhealthy environment. Never had “a good enough mother.” I was abused as a child in every form… read more

Victim To Victor: Author Interview

October 10, 2019 Current Events, Domestic Violence and Disabilities, Our Stories 0 Comments
Hoping to help break the cycle of violence and to provide a “voice for the voiceless” author Samantha Taylor shares her hopes and goals around her searing new book “Victim to Victor.”* When and why did you decide to write the book? ST: I decided to write Victim to Victor in 2017. I was encouraged to write a book after I explained the complications, mindsets, perspectives, misunderstandings, and parts of my experience as it… read more

Domestic Violence Awareness Month Supporter Spotlight: Spread The Sparkle!

October 8, 2019 Current Events, Domestic Violence and Disabilities, Our Stories 0 Comments
It was five years ago that I first connected with Abbey Levine (at far left above).  We were dishing fashion and love at a Chelsea café when she revealed her new dream project: Spread the Sparkle. She wanted to redefine the concept of holiday celebration, for people that were searching for renewal and hope. She was looking for a non-profit to work with. A firm believer in kismet, I told Abbey about… read more

Barrier Free Living Apartments Tenant Celebrates Son’s Success

August 6, 2019 Our Stories 0 Comments
Barrier Free Living Apartments joined tenant Miss Carol in celebrating her son DaShawn's recent success working with the New Heights Youth Organization. DaShawn, age 23, led the girl's basketball team he coaches to a 1st place tournament win this summer. The six foot trophy honors the 2019 69th Annual HRCC Summer Tournament 1st Place award (7th and 8th grade team). Barrier Free Living Apartments, located in the Bronx… read more

Diana Turner: A Fierce Sense of Community At Barrier Free Living Apartments

August 5, 2019 Domestic Violence and Disabilities, Our Stories 0 Comments
Growing up on Manhattan’s Lower East Side in the 1970s, Diana Turner (pictured above) most remembers the fierce sense of community. “I grew up across from Tompkins Square Park. Back then the neighborhood was called alphabet city,” says Diana, who joined the Barrier Free Living team this June (2019) as program director at our supportive housing program in the Bronx (BFL Apartments)*. “I saw the homeless problem. I also had a… read more

BFL Apartments’ Tenant Miss Flo Teams With Social Worker For Success

July 22, 2019 Our Stories 0 Comments
Miss Flo, one of the original tenants of Barrier Free Living Apartments in the Bronx, was an active part of the community from the start. She  was a founding member of the garden club, and was a regular attendee of Occupational Therapy groups and workshops.In 2017, however, two strokes that came only ten days apart, landed her in the hospital. “I was very close to death,” says Flo. Flo recovered and returned home to BFL Apartments, hoping to pick up where she… read more

Life Saving Moment: CPR In Action at BFL Apartments

July 1, 2019 Domestic Violence and Disabilities, Our Stories, Uncategorized 0 Comments
Barrier Free Living apartment team members Irma Williams, Director of Social Services, and Jeffrey Hampton, Resident Aide Manager, put their recent CPR* training to the test in an emergency situation this summer, saving the life of a resident at the supportive housing program. After a tenant reported an unresponsive family member in their home, Irma and Jeffrey  rushed to the scene, called 911 then checked the person's breathing.  Jeffrey, who had… read more

Staff Spotlight: Marlow White

July 1, 2019 Our Stories, Uncategorized 0 Comments
When Marlow White joined the Resident Aide team at Barrier Free Living apartments a few years back, he didn't expect the job to change who he was as a person. But that's exactly what happened. Marlow, who since joining the agency has become active as a CPI Trainer and a member of the 2019 Communication Committee, says that the work he does at BFL has  "helped me to look at myself and… read more

Barrier Free Living Apartment’s Celebrates Father’s Day

June 18, 2019 Current Events, Our Stories 0 Comments
The staff and tenants at Barrier Free Living apartments came together for a celebratory Father's Day celebration this month. The event included a BBQ, photo booth and a chance for community to gather and honor Fathers. BFL Apartments provides permanent homes with support services to survivors of domestic violence with disabilities and veterans with disabilities.… read more

BFL’s Secret Garden Opens New Space, Unveils Historical Timeline

May 17, 2019 Advocacy, Current Events, Domestic Violence and Disabilities, Our Stories 0 Comments
Barrier Free Living's (BFL) Secret Garden domestic violence program welcomed staff and supporters to the grand opening of its new healing space this May. A historical timeline was unveiled (photo above) mapping the program's decades of providing services to survivors of domestic violence with disabilities. "This is a great new home where we can focus on our comprehensive services. We welcome all agency staff to attend our regular workshops and trainings, or… read more

BFL’s Freedom House Launches Art Therapy Group

May 13, 2019 Domestic Violence and Disabilities, Our Stories 0 Comments
Making art with others is an expression of hope. (Bruce L. Moon, art therapist. Above, art created as part of BFL's Transitional Housing program art group circa 1990.) This spring, Barrier Free Living’s Freedom House domestic violence shelter launched a new art therapy group for residents (watch a virtual tour of Freedom House here). The group, created by a current MSW intern at Freedom House hopes to “offer a space for residents to express themselves in a playful… read more

Barrier Free Living Celebrates Mother’s Day

May 10, 2019 Current Events, Our Stories 0 Comments
Barrier Free Living celebrated Mother's Day with staff, tenants, residents and participants at our BFL Apartments, Secret Garden and Freedom House programs this May. "We honor the mother's at our program every day. We are taking this opportunity to serve lunch featuring poetry and unity (photo above)," says Irma Williams, Director of Social… read more

BFL Apartments’ Tenant Miss Flo Teams With Social Worker For Success

May 8, 2019 Advocacy, Our Stories 0 Comments
Miss Flo, one of the original tenants of Barrier Free Living Apartments in the Bronx, was an active part of the community from the start. She  was a founding member of the garden club, and was a regular attendee of Occupational Therapy groups and workshops. In 2017, however, two strokes that came only ten days apart, landed her in the hospital. "I was very close to death," says Flo. Flo recovered and returned… read more

Barrier Free Living’s Freedom House: Denise Survivor Spotlight  

April 2, 2019 Advocacy, Breaking Barriers in DV, Domestic Violence and Disabilities, Our Stories 0 Comments
An encounter with an occupational therapist during a hospital stay in 2017 was the first step in Denise’s journey to safety. “I was in the hospital for a multiple sclerosis flare up. I had a week before I had to go home. My living situation was toxic. Mental and psychological abuse,” says Denise. “I was scared and my blood pressure was going up. An occupational therapist asked me about my blood pressure and she ended up telling me she had been… read more

Staff Spotlight: Julissa Vasquez Freedom House Director of Social Services

March 21, 2019 Domestic Violence and Disabilities, Our Stories 0 Comments
Julissa Vasquez joined Barrier Free Living's Freedom House domestic violence shelter team this past year as Director of Social Services. Julissa has a Master's degree in Social Work from Hunter College and she’s been working in social services for the past decade. Currently, she is doing a research project for Stony Brook University about the intersection of domestic violence and disability.  Julissa takes a few moments to share her… read more

BFL’s Cynthia Amodeo Inducted Into Women In Human Services Hall of Fame

March 14, 2019 Current Events, Our Stories 0 Comments
Barrier Free Living's Chief Program Officer Cynthia Amodeo was inducted this March into the Women in Human Services Hall of Fame. An event inside the Legislative Office Building near the state Capitol recognized more than 60 women.  It was noted that the human services workforce is 81% women. Read about the honorees here. … read more

Staff Spotlight: Jennifer Davis, Freedom House Social Worker

February 11, 2019 Domestic Violence and Disabilities, Our Stories 0 Comments
When Jennifer Davis took a leap to pursue social work in 2014, it was the voice of a Barrier Free Living resident that guided her. “My (graduate school) statement of purpose started with a quote from a resident at Barrier Free Living’s transitional housing program**,” says Jennifer. “Speedy (the resident) said to me that ‘sometimes the only reason I get out of bed in the morning is because I know Luca… read more

PopGym Self Defense Workshop At Barrier Free Living’s Freedom House Domestic Violence Shelter

November 16, 2018 Advocacy, Current Events, Domestic Violence and Disabilities, Our Stories 0 Comments
Working from a philosophy that takes both a physical and an emotional approach to self defense, PopGym held a workshop for the residents of Barrier Free Living's Freedom House domestic violence shelter this October. (Take a short virtual tour of Freedom House here.) We caught up with PopGym team member Grey to find out a bit more about this innovative organization in New York City. BFL: How did you get… read more

Spread The Sparkle Fund Raiser Benefits Barrier Free Living Domestic Violence Programs

November 6, 2018 Current Events, Our Stories 0 Comments
Spread the Sparkle hosted an event this November, raising funds to produce an annual holiday party for the families at Barrier Free Living's domestic violence programs. Below is a message from the Spread the Sparkle team, and information on how to volunteer to support this incredible annual event. Spread the Sparkle Writes:  To all of our talented practitioners, dedicated donors, interested and inspired ticket buyers… read more

A Fair Shake For Youth At Freedom House Domestic Violence Shelter

November 6, 2018 Domestic Violence and Disabilities, Our Stories 0 Comments
A Fair Shake for Youth, a New York City based organization that helps kids build social and emotional skills through a hands-on therapy dog program, held workshops at Barrier Free Living's Freedom House Domestic Violence shelter this October. Freedom House offers crisis shelter to survivors of domestic violence with disabilities, and their families. (Watch a virtual tour of Freedom House here.) Fair Shake works with therapy dog teams… read more

Yueqin Li Named Barrier Free Living’s Chief Fiscal Officer

October 30, 2018 Our Stories 0 Comments
Joining Barrier Free Living in 2004 as an accounting intern, Yueqin Li has risen through the ranks to become the agency's Chief Fiscal Officer by keeping a steady eye on both the mission and the bottom line. "I realized early on that my job (in accounting) is very important because the services we provide can really change people's lives," says Yueqin. For nearly 40 years Barrier Free Living has been working with people with… read more

Advocate Spotlight: Vangie Leon

October 23, 2018 Breaking Barriers in DV, Breaking Barriers Newsletter, Domestic Violence and Disabilities, Our Stories 0 Comments
After over a decade at Barrier Free Living's Freedom House domestic violence shelter for people with disabilities,  Family Associate/Board of Education liaison Vangie Leon is still driven by the spirit of love and compassion that she discovered when she started the job. We caught up with Vangie to talk about the work she does with children, the challenges she faces and the lessons she continues to learn. BFL: Tell us how you first became familiar… read more