U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand to be honored at SPARKS PPD event in Washington DC

Written by Katherine Stone at Postpartum Progress
March 23, 2011
Brooklyn’s SPARKS Center Helps Families Get Through PPD

On Thursday, March 31, a special event will be held in Washington DC to honor Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and others for their support of women who have postpartum depression. The event is being hosted by the SPARKS Center, which offers comprehensive services to women who suffer from PPD and is located in Brooklyn, NY.

Susan Dowd Stone, LCSW, board member of Postpartum Progress the non-profit and one of the honorees at the upcoming event, was kind enough to share information about SPARKS, which has already helped more than one thousand families get through PPD.

“SPARKS’ genesis included early educational outreach to those in its community about perinatal mood and anxiety disorders through meetings hosted by local families. It then proceeded to trainings for area professionals and funding from the families it most directly serves. SPARKS knows the demographic of its community and requirements of the illness it seeks to eradicate. They’ve created a “one-stop shopping” environment that is a wonderful alternative to the current recovery task of having to visit several agencies to receive recommended services. Their vision draws from multiple social and medical modalities to heal and restore mothers and their families.

While warm lines, counseling, peer support, complementary treatments and psychotherapy are main program elements, there is also attention to concrete services. Local volunteers widen the net of compassionate assistance to offer meal preparation, child care, transportation and house cleaning!”

What led you to become involved with SPARKS?

My support for SPARKS has increased over the years as I’ve watched it meet the varied needs of pregnant and postpartum women suffering from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders and respond to an economic reality that demands creativity in order to be self-sustaining. The era of multi-year grants for total operation of even the worthiest program seems ended by the current economic climate. Undaunted by this, SPARKS is a phenomenal example of emerging public/private partnerships which draw on a variety of resources to keep doors open. They are committed to helping families. I wanted to be part of that and support that if I could.”

Tell me about the founder of SPARKS.

Esther Kenigsberg saw an unmet need in her community. She saw the devastation of untreated postpartum depression and was determined to do something about it. She ensures that SPARKS makes use of existing resources while adding the needed manpower from community volunteers at both professional and civilian levels. SPARKS presents a blueprint worthy of investment at the state or federal level and a dream program for community based stakeholders interested in replication of its vision.”

Are you excited to be receiving an award from them?

“It’s certainly an honor, but I have to say the real story here is the introduction of SPARKS on a national stage in Washington DC where I hope it can further its momentum and life-saving destiny.”
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