Nick Fewings, Unsplash

Breaking Mental Health Barriers in the Greater New Orleans Community

09:00 February 26, 2021
By: Kala Hathorn

Dr. Martin Luther King, a man of great wisdom and valor, once eloquently asked, "Life's most persistent and urgent question is: what are you doing for others?" In a world that often seems cold and despondent, helping our fellow brethren is more than likely an afterthought. For some, the thought of showing kindness is lame, unnecessary, or simply "doing too much." For a select few, however, benevolence is a dominant force that lives in the depths of their hearts and souls. Love is their language and charity is their life's mission because the thought of caring about others makes selfishness a weak opposition.

In the city of New Orleans, mental health is one of our dominant challenges. In recent years, the compassion for individuals who deal with grave challenges have withered away, leaving many without necessary treatment and an overall sense of belonging. A rare selection of mental health professionals take heed to the desperate cries of those who are struggling in certain aspects of life. One of those rare few is licensed social worker and The First Step Youth & Family Services owner Kim Andres. Andres is a hero who doesn't wear a cape, but instead has a heart full of compassion, love, and concern for the people of our community.

She is an emerging pillar of community excellence in the city of New Orleans, who believes in operating in integrity when it comes to taking on individuals who society deems as "difficult." Her astounding passion for people and the issues that concern them is a key indicator that Andres is fulfilling a portion of her life's work. It began when she was an undergrad taking a course in substance abuse when she indicated certain behaviors and patterns that were detrimental to her, as well as her family's, well-being. The knowledge that she received in the course sparked a sense of purpose that led her to pursue a career in helping others navigate through the difficulties of life.

As of today, Andres, and her love for people, has evolved into owning a community agency that offers services for mental health, substance abuse, infant and toddlers with developmental disorders, and permanent supportive housing. Her agency, located on 1202 Monroe St. in Gretna, is symbolic of the many first steps that we all must take in life. The agency also provides addiction recovery programs, as well as a safe place for youths who face discipline challenges at school to breathe and collect relief. With a dedicated and driven team behind her, the achievement of wellness for individuals who come seeking help is not far out of reach. In the end, Andres hopes to leave an impactful legacy of charity for her clients, colleagues, and generations after her to follow.

For more info about The First Step Youth & Family Services, please visit the agency's Facebook page or feel free to call 504-309-6798.

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