BY JASMINE PALMA
An Astoria cancer center is reopening its doors after being shut down to slow the spread of COVID-19 for the past several months.
SHAREing and CAREing Inc. announced it has initiated steps toward reopening its Astoria office on Ditmars Boulevard.
The grassroots nonprofit was founded in 1994 by breast cancer survivors to address the lack of breast cancer services available to women in Queens. They have since expanded their services to give both women and men cancer education, support, advocacy and outreach with special attention to minority groups that are under-insured or lack insurance entirely.
Despite its physical closure in conforming with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order, the nonprofit continued to provide their services to cancer survivors, their families and caregivers via website, email and social media/online platforms.
Now as NYC carries out phase four of reopening, SHAREing and CAREing has resumed phone assistance.
“I will be staffing the office from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, offering assistance in English and Spanish,” said SHAREing and CAREing’s bilingual Spanish navigator Rosa Sarmiento.
As of late, SHAREing and CAREing has focused its efforts on aiding its community with mental health, conscious that cancer survivors and those currently undergoing treatment are among the groups most physically at risk to COVID-19 and have a heightened propensity to mental illness, such as clinical depression, PTSD, anxiety and complicated grief.
“In response to the COVID-19 crisis, we have experienced an increased demand for professional mental health support services, including our individual and group counseling. To meet this demand, we have increased our provision of individual and group telemental health services. We have also been offering an additional weekly support group, at the request of — and to meet the ongoing needs of — our survivors,” said Anna Kril, president of the organization.
The nonprofit’s partners in these efforts include Queens Public Library, International High School for Health Sciences and Frank Sinatra High School.
SHAREing and CAREing has been offering workshops and sessions on anxiety, stress management, loving and grieving, according to Kril.
“Our members have lost loved ones to COVID-19, are worried about family members on the front lines, have experienced job loss, and have to cope with ongoing, indefinite self-quarantine and social isolation. Our group and individual counseling include evidence-based interventions geared to help our community reduce risk, isolation, anxiety, depression and trauma,” said SHAREing and CAREing’s Licensed Clinical Social Worker Merryl Reichbach.
“Many in our community will continue to face unemployment and financial hardship AND will continue to need the help that SHAREing & CAREing can provide,” Kril said. “With the support of the NYC Council and private funders, my staff and I are committed to working with our local hospitals – NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst, NYC Health + Hospitals/Queens and its Queens Cancer Center and Mount Sinai Queens — and our other partners to provide programming and services during these uncertain, and changing, times.”
If you or someone you know is in need of support, free or low-cost cancer screening and/or other cancer-related services, you can contact SHAREing and CAREing Inc. at 718-777-5766.