Archives of the Mayor's Press Office

Date: Thursday, April 19, 2001

Release #120-01

Contact: Sunny Mindel/Lynn Rasic
(212) 788-2958
View the Mayor's
Press Conference
Sandra Mullin/ Anne Sommers (DMH)
(212) 788-5290


Mayor Recognizes Cumberland Family Health and Support Center
For Successful Efforts To Treat Families

Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani today proclaimed April Alcohol and Substance Abuse Awareness Month in a ceremony at City Hall and presented a proclamation to the Cumberland Family Health and Support Center in Brooklyn to honor its exceptional work with women in recovery. Joining the Mayor was Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Alcoholism Services (DMH) and Department of Health Commissioner Neal L. Cohen, M.D.; Joan Wittig, Executive Director of the Cumberland Program; and Ruby Merriweather, a client of the program.

"When drug and alcohol abuse is prevented, or when people are successfully treated for these addictions, we all benefit," Mayor Giuliani said. "Parents freed from addiction can care for their families, lead productive lives, and contribute to our City. This is why efforts to combat and prevent abuse of addictive substances have been high priorities of my Administration. Today I would like to congratulate the Cumberland program, as well as DMH, the Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) and the Administration for Children Services (ACS), for collaborating on an important initiative that brings families back together."

"Substance abuse is a multifaceted public health issue that often occurs simultaneously with other illnesses and conditions and must be addressed by multifaceted approaches," Dr. Cohen said. "Cumberland is a model program because it incorporates the principles of integrating substance abuse treatment with health and mental health care. The women who participate in this program obtain the important and necessary skills they need to support themselves and nurture their children. Cumberland's success has led the DMH to develop similar programs Citywide."

Founded in 1998 as a Mayoral initiative, the Cumberland program created an integrated approach that provides substance abuse treatment, primary health care, mental health, social supports, and job placement services to women with serious histories of psychiatric problems and substance abuse. Many of their clients have had involvement with the criminal justice system and/or with ACS. Of the 440 women treated by the program since its inception, 85% have been engaged in educational or employment opportunities and one-third have reunited with their children.

Cumberland also places an emphasis on helping their clients' children succeed in school, enhance their self-esteem, and enjoy themselves. The Center offers day care for very young children, and transports school-aged children to Cumberland for tutoring, snacks, and arts and recreation. Field trips have included baseball games, movies, and a trip to an amusement park.

Receiving the proclamation from the Mayor, Ms. Wittig said, "Our clients' significant problems present considerable challenges to the treatment process. We support these motivated women as they enter recovery, acquire vital life skills, and work to stay drug free. Their extraordinary efforts are rewarded by reunification with their children, the possibility of a job, and the restoration of their dignity. Our satisfaction comes from knowing we helped make possible productive and fulfilling lives. We would like to thank the City for its commitment and acknowledgement of our efforts."

The DMH funds 106 alcohol and substance abuse treatment and prevention programs. For 24-hour confidential information or referral for alcohol, substance abuse and mental health treatment services, New Yorkers can call 1-800-LIFENET, 1-800 543-3638. Spanish-speaking New Yorkers can call AYUDESE 1-877 298-3373, while New Yorkers who speak Asian languages can call ASIAN LIFENET at 1-877 990-8585.

Go to Press Releases | Giuliani Archives | Mayor's Office | Home Page
Contact Us | FAQs | Privacy Statement | Site Map