Helen Ha to Retire

Helen Ha, a Benefits Counselor at CIDNY for 10 years, is retiring in February. Helen is a native Chinese speaker and a great asset for her ability to connect with the Asian American community in NYC.

She plans to babysit her first granddaughter, to travel (including a visit to her native China), and to be more active physically. She looks forward to bringing the knowledge and skills she’s acquired to help her peers navigate applications as they also reach retirement.

Helen has three children, an older son who works in computer science, a younger son who is a doctor, and a daughter who is transitioning from international marketing to a career in nursing. She calls CIDNY her “first family,” since “you’re there from 9 to 5.”

After raising her three kids, Helen started her work in benefits advisement by working part-time doing outreach for the legally blind. She then worked at Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE) for 10 years, helping seniors and people with disabilities to connect with benefits, and helping people displaced by fires or other emergencies. Then she joined the team at CIDNY, where she first helped people access health care benefits before becoming a generalist and helping with a host of benefits. “I learned a lot,” she recalls fondly of each experience.

“I find if I can help someone, I feel good,” she says. As a person who is about to retire and a diabetic, Helen also sees for herself how complicated it can be to navigate options

Helen shared a recent story about a long time CIDNY participant who had a problem with prescription coverage, which can change every year. A hand lotion that he needed retailed for $5,000; the generic version was $2,000. But he had enrolled in a plan that didn’t cover the prescription. Helen found that his previous plan only charged a small premium for the medication, and then she was able to get him back on that original plan. “It made me happy,” she says, smiling.

“Helen brought first-hand knowledge of the Asian community to CIDNY and some of the issues these consumers face as new Americans transitioning to the complex, diverse cultural life of NYC,” says Paula Wolff, Senior Benefits Counselor. “With her strong knowledge of health care benefits, she enabled consumers to enter and navigate the complicated health care services web to achieve their goals of optimum wellness. She did all of this with a calm, even [demeanor]. She’ll be missed.”

We thank Helen for her service and dedication to our consumers and wish her all the best in her retirement.

Brightening the Holiday Blues

The holidays can be a joyous time for some and a challenging time for others. This time of year can heighten feelings of sadness or loneliness, bring up difficult emotions, be a tough reminder of the loss of a loved one, or bring up stress about financial difficulties.

What are some things you can do to lift your spirits now (or any time of the year)?

We asked our benefits counselors for their recommendations:

  1. Volunteer. One of the best ways to feel more positive is to help other people—it even improves your health and well-being. Consider volunteering at your local ILC (like CIDNY!), in your neighborhood, or through an organization that you’re involved in.
  2. Create new memories or revisit old ones. If distance or family dynamics mean that you’re on your own during the holidays, try creating your own rituals for the holidays. Enjoy free activities like checking out holiday lights, window decorations, or a Christmas tree lighting. Choose a movie to be your annual holiday viewing, make your favorite meal, listen to music that makes you happy, or spend time with your pet.
  3. Enjoy new friends. Celebrate with your chosen family, whether they are new friends, neighbors in your apartment building, or residents in your nursing or assisted living facility.
  4. Check in on others. If you know someone who’s alone or homebound during the holidays, call or visit them. Call an old friend and connect.
  5. Brainstorm other strategies. Your benefits counselor can help you think of other strategies to cope with holiday stress. Reach out to us if you need support.
  6. Try meditating. You might clear your mind and ease your worries by meditating. Insight Timer is a fantastic, free app with guided meditations and music to start your practice. Try to maintain a healthy self-care routine during the holidays, whether through meditation, exercise, or pacing yourself.

If you need coping or mental health support, contact NYC Well.



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