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Justine Simmons, featured member of reality television Run’s House of legendary hip-hop group Run-D.M.C.’s fame, and supermodel Heidi Albertsen, continue to offer their steadfast support as goodwill ambassadors of Su Casa, a residential treatment facility operated by the Lower Eastside Service Center (LESC).

LESC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization committed to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by substance abuse, HIV/AIDS and mental illness. Now in its 54th year of operation, LESC’s programs are primarily located on the lower east side of Manhattan.

As a follow-up to the devastating effects Hurricane Sandy had on the Su Casa facility and its clients, Simmons and Albertsen visited on Monday with several of the women and infants who are residents in Su Casa’s Pregnant Women & Infants Program. This is a unique residential program created to benefit the unmet needs of pregnant women with opiate addiction. 

Privacy considerations require anonymity of the residents, but one of the women commented, “Living in a residential treatment facility is tough, but living in the residential treatment facility during Superstorm Sandy seemed near impossible.” 

For several days after Hurricane Sandy, the facility lost power, leaving the residents in dire circumstances, with no lights and no heat. LESC’s main generator was flooded and destroyed.

Heidi Albertsen said: 

“Hurricane Sandy made a tough personal situation for these mothers even more difficult, but through it all, the women have stayed the course, and all of them have persevered. These women have not lost hope. I am so deeply moved and proud of all of them. Their level of commitment is truly remarkable.

Since Hurricane Sandy, several women gave birth and now have newborns. A new chapter is upon them, and a bright future is within striking distance. They still have work to do, but I know they’ll get there. Justine and I are doing our best to let them know that they are loved, that we are here for them, and that we’re rooting for them every step of the way.”

In addition to emotional support, Simmons and Albertsen spoke with the mothers about the importance of the cognitive development of their infants.

“We’ve learned that early development of cognitive skills is critical for infants, so I want to share my experiences with these mothers. When my daughter Miley was 9 to 16 months old, she was already starting to read words. I attribute my daughter’s success in part to a reading program designed for infants based on the work of Dr. Robert Titzer called Your Baby Can Read. I did my best to inform the mothers about the wonderful techniques in this program,” said Simmons.

Reflecting back on the progress she has made over the last several months, one of the women proudly said, “Hey, I’m going to make it. I have a baby to think about.”

For additional information or to make a donation to the Lower Eastside Service Center, please visit www.lesc.org/donations.html or contact Peter Santoro of the LESC at +1 (212) 566-7735.

Follow Justine Simmons on Twitter and Facebook 

Follow Heidi Albertsen on Twitter and Facebook 

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