Notice of Email Event

Maria Pizarro Flores – Peer Advocacy Leadership Program

< News & Events

Maria Pizarro Flores, a Bronx widow in her sixties diagnosed with major depressive, panic, and anxiety disorders, had worked as a nurse in her native Puerto Rico. She had lived in NYC for the past 38 years. Since becoming unemployed, she had lived with friends and her adult children for long periods. But she didn’t want to impose on their lives anymore, so she came to our Peer Advocacy Leadership (PAL) program seeking help in finding a place of her own.

For months, Maria had struggled with the application process to secure shared supportive housing. She lacked the technology skills to complete all the paperwork. Once she overcame this hurdle thanks to Carlos, one of our bilingual Peer Advocates, she began touring different shared apartments. Maria declined the first because she noticed that her potential roommate smoked heavily. She began having doubts about shared housing, but continued searching other potential places to live. She declined the second apartment because she detected some hostility from her potential roommate. But third time’s a charm! She took the third apartment with no roommate and moved in the first week of July 2023.

During the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2023, Our PAL team helped 27 participants who were homeless or in unstable housing to move into apartments. “There is no successful mental health recovery without a home, and the work of the PAL team continues to address this real need,” said PAL Director Brendan Foley.

If you would like to learn more about Goodwill NYNJ’s behavioral health services that help persons with mental illness stay healthy, on their jobs and out of hospitals, please email

Peer Advocacy Leadership (PAL) Program

Peers are professionally trained and state-certified individuals who identify as mentally ill and use personal experiences with recovery to support participants, as they navigate their individual recovery process and assist them with their identified goals.

PAL Peers collaborate with participants on life recovery goals such as:

  • Supporting educational and/or vocational goals 
  • Systems advocacy to amplify our participants voices
  • Support obtaining Housing through the 2010e application
  • Benefits Support and Advocacy
  • Working towards improve wellness practices
  • Any mental health related goals defined by participants

Story submitted by our PAL Program team:
Carlos Guerra, PAL Peer Advocate.
Christopher Ng, Senior Peer Advocate.
Brendan Foley, Program Director.