Community-based Mental Health Specialist
Suffolk STRONG CHANGE (Brentwood)
“We are all meant to shine as children do. It's not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” - Marianne Williamson
Antonio was born in the Caribbean city of Colón, Panamá and immigrated to Brooklyn, NY with his parents where he was raised. As a youth he was an avid learner, spending much of his time absorbing as much knowledge and wisdom as possible. Despite his zeal to learn, he was regularly exposed to multiple stressors. Community violence, poverty, and systemic oppression were prevalent whether he was in NYC or visiting Panamá during the summers.
Antonio was often praised for his intellect and attended Phillipa Schuyler middle school for the gifted and talented. He then attended Lafayette High School, which has a history of notable alumni (i.e., Larry King, Sandy Koufax, and John Franco to name a few) but the recurring theme of danger was still ever-present. Lafayette, which has since been closed, was considered a low-performing school plagued by gang violence and other risk factors. Affected by loss, a lack of resources and varied types of obstacles led him to question his life’s meaning and purpose. Antonio, under the guidance of his English teacher, sought a change of environment and attended SUNY Old Westbury for two years and returned to NYC where he graduated from York College with a Bachelor's in History.
His initial hope was to be a teacher to help mold the minds of youth but the recession of 2008 caused many budget cuts and teaching opportunities were scarce, to his discouragement. Although he obtained employment at a leading insurance company he found himself feeling unfulfilled and committed to serving what he considered a higher purpose. Antonio began working with behavioral developmentally disabled men as an Assistant Manager of a group home and eventually discovered his passion for counseling. He studied Mental Health Counseling and graduated with a Master’s from Walden University. Once he began to practice, he immediately gravitated towards his preferred population; youth and adults who have or still suffer from psychiatric issues related to the same stressors that impacted his own life.
Discovering enlightenment from his own suffering led him to STRONG Youth, inc. in 2017. He has been given the opportunity to serve his purpose in instilling hope to those seeking improvements in their lives beyond the difficulties they encounter. As a mental health counselor, he hopes to continue absorbing knowledge and wisdom; this time from the STRONG family and those connected to STRONG Youth's mission. Antonio's hope is to play a role in the uplift and development of the "at-risk" population with the belief that we are all endowed with gifts and talents beyond our challenges and limitations.
Antonio is passionate about counseling and is a member of NYMHCA (New York Mental Health Counseling Association). He is passionate about soccer, boxing, and Reggae. He is a member of a competitive soccer group in Brooklyn, engages in regular boxing workouts, and enjoys reggae events in NYC or when he returns to Panamá.
S.T.R.O.N.G. Youth, Inc.
A 501(C)(3) Not-for-profit
Phone: (516) 483-1350
Fax: (516) 762-8534
Address: 599 Jerusalem Avenue
Uniondale, NY 11553