October 2018 Newsletter


My Personal Experience with a National Epidemic
By Joan Crawford
Deputy Executive Director
The Nation is in the midst of an unprecedented opioid epidemic. 116 people a day die from opioid-related drug overdoses. Chances are good that even young teenagers will have heard about opioids and overdose deaths at some point. Pretending that opioid use is not a problem—or thinking that a child is a “good kid” and therefore doesn’t need to hear and talk about it—is a mistake. Being a “good kid” does not mean that young people will not be curious or be tempted by peers.
On September 15th, I lost a good kid. My stepson Brendan Gornick overdosed and died. He was 28 years old. The following is an excerpt from his obituary:
“Brendan had the soul of a poet, and played the drums with a ferocity that belied his tender heart. He loved his family and was a true friend to those in need. Brendan never gave up trying to overcome the disease that took his life, and certainly is not defined by that struggle. He carried the light of hope in his heart for himself and for others who struggled. He will be remembered by his loved ones as a young man who was passionate about music, loved the outdoors, and treated everyone with dignity and respect.”
Given the stakes and the ongoing crisis, parents need to be proactive and talk calmly and honestly with their kids about the dangers of opioid abuse. Talking to your child about the perils of opioids is a challenging and emotionally fraught task. Experts suggest these strategies to improve your
odds of connecting with your son or daughter on this life-threatening issue:
  1. Start the conversation about the dangers of medication early. Parents can start talking to their preschool-age kids about medication. One way you can broach the subject when they are young without explicitly diving into opioids is by using vitamins as an example. When you give your children vitamins, explain to them that vitamins are good for you and will help you to growup to be big and strong, but they can also be harmful if you take too many.
  2. Discuss the proper and improper use of prescription drugs. Explain to children and adolescents that prescription opioids can be medically appropriate to treat the pain from serious injuries such as broken bones or from diseases like cancer. Parents can explain to their kids that
    they should never take medication that was not prescribed specifically for them. Be sure that they know that taking another person’s prescription or sharing their prescription with someone else is illegal.
  3. Honestly discuss why some people use drugs. Be straightforward in discussing the allure of drugs. It’s important to explain that drugs can make you feel good, and like many things that make you feel good, they can also damage you, especially because you can lose control and they have harmful effects on your body. Acknowledging that drugs can temporarily evoke feelings of euphoria or an escape from life—rather than just discussing the negative effects of substance abuse—is important to maintain credibility. It’s absolutely important to talk about both sides.
  4. Don’t try to instill excessive fear or lecture your kids. When we exaggerate, we instill fear in our kids, and they don’t take us seriously. Discuss the dangers of opioid addiction, but don’t overdo it or you’ll lose credibility. Your kids need to know you are being 100 percent honest or you’ll lose the connection with them.
  5. Encourage a conversation. It’s going to have more meaning if it’s a two-way street, rather than a parent saying, “Here are the facts. Don’t do this”. To encourage a discussion, don’t ask questions that can be answered with a “yes” or “no”.
  6. Talk about the genetic factor. Kids should know if addiction runs in their family. It’s in the DNA. There are genetic components and it’s passed from generation to generation. You have a higher risk of alcoholism or addiction if you have a family history.

For additional resources visit:

National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence

Partnership for Drug-Free Kids

How Family Services Can Help

Family Services is committed to the prevention of substance abuse. Through our Ulster Prevention Council (UPC) we work to prevent substance abuse in Ulster County youth and families. UPC provides evidence-based school and community prevention services. UPC Prevention Educators provide a model prevention education service delivery in Ulster County Schools. Too Good for Drugs fosters confidence, self-efficacy and resistance to substance abuse through goal setting and achievement, responsible decision making, positive conflict resolution, and healthy relationships. UPC partners with grassroots initiatives and community coalitions to address local needs, provide training and technical assistance, enhance communication and avoid duplication of efforts. For more information about these services please visit: Ulster Prevention Council

Finally, if parents suspect that their child is using or has a problem with opioids, it’s imperative to get help as soon as possible. The best outcomes often come from intervening early. Family Services provides a service to help individuals and families struggling with substance use disorders. The Family Advocate (Carol Sutcliffe) helps connect families with drug and alcohol treatment services. The Advocate can educate families on available treatment options, assist with the intake process, help remove obstacles to treatment, such as, lack of insurance or insurance denials, and support families in crisis due to addiction. The Advocate provides information on 12 Step programs, counseling, medication assisted treatment and opioid overdose reversal medication (NARCAN). The Advocate is available to talk with those in contemplation of seeking treatment, those ready for treatment and families who are concerned that their loved ones might have a substance use disorder. The Advocate also facilitates a support
group for those, like me who have lost a loved one to substance use.

For more information on the Family Advocate Program, contact Carol Sutcliffe at 845-458-7455 or csutcliffe@familyservicesny.org

Recent Events

In 2007, the U.S. Congress established September 25th as National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims. 

On Tuesday, September 25th the Family Services’ Center for Victim Safety and Support hosted an event at the Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum Pavilion to honor the lives of those taken by violence and to recognize the impact of homicide on surviving loved ones and the community.


Family Partnership Center

The month of August was busy for our Family Partnership Center Steward, Kellie Wofford.
On August 9th, she provided a tour of the Family Partnership Center to Leena Waite, who is the Non Profit Center Network Member and Program Coordinator.
Out of three sites that were visited, the Family Partnership Center was chosen to be featured on the Member Highlight of the Non Profit Central Network website.  CLICK HERE TO READ 
What is even more of an accomplishment for us is that this has been shared with 2,616 members and many other like minded agencies across the United States.
This is a true reflection of the great work and service provided by our collaborative partners within the Family Partnership Center to our beloved community on a daily basis.
Throughout the month of August Kellie also wore t-shirts of many of our valued partners to support and represent the work that is going on right here at the Family Partnership Center. To learn more about the Family Partnership Center and to view our directory of services and partners: CLICK HERE

Program Spotlight

Dutchess County
Universal Response to Domestic Violence (URDV)

Did you know that 1500 people die annually as a result of intimate partner violence? Did you know that domestic violence does not discriminate? Did you know that anyone can be impacted by domestic violence, regardless of race, gender or socio- economic status? At Family Services, we recognize the risks associated with domestic violence and the devastating impact it has on victims, their families and the community…and we work with our partners in the community to create change!
In order to combat the epidemic of domestic violence, Dutchess County developed a unique approach to the problem, the Universal Response to Domestic Violence (URDV). This coordinated community response enables service providers (like Family Services), law enforcement, probation, legal services and the judicial system to work together in a collaborative effort to improve victim safety and increase offender accountability. The URDV Project Coordinator, a staff member of Family Services under the direction of the URDV Steering Committee, facilitates collaborative projects, protocols, trainings, and events between agencies that focus on the issue of domestic violence.
To learn more about the Universal Reponses to Domestic Violence and the innovative projects that are part of this coordinated community response, such as Domestic Abuse Response Teams (DART) and the Lethality Assessment Program (LAP), visit www.familyservicesny.org or contact Desiree Alston, Project Coordinator for Universal Response to Domestic Violence at dalstson@familyservicesny.org.


Celebrating 30 Years of Dedication
The year was 1988…Ronald Reagan was President, gas was $0.91/gallon, Cher won an Oscar for “Moonstruck”…and Mary (Flannery) Turner joined Family Services! FSI was a small agency housed at 50 North Hamilton Street, when Mary joined the team.
Mary has been part of three decades of our story. She served many years as the Executive Assistant to the CEO, supporting the management and the Board of Directors. Later, she took on the role of Facility Supervisor for the Family Partnership Center. Several years ago, Mary retired from that position, and still wanted to be connected to the agency. She now serves as our part-time Receptionist, meeting and greeting staff and clients alike, as they enter the Main Building.
As described below by her colleagues, Mary has made an indelible mark on our agency.
“Mary your dedication and hard work at family services are an inspiration to us all. We’re so happy to call you not only our coworker but our friend. Thank you for 30 years of true commitment. Congratulations Mary!”
“Mary has played a pivotal role in Family Services and the Family Partnership Center. In her roles as Executive Assistant, Facility Supervisor and Receptionist for FPC, Mary has been at the center of so much of the critical work that happens here. Around Mary‘s desk there is always a busy hive of activity—she’s like the queen bee!”
Congratulations and Thank You from all of us here at Family Services and the Partnership Center!


On Monday, September 17th, the unwavering commitment and hard work of the Family Services and Hudson Valley Mental Health staff was celebrated at our Annual Staff Recognition Event.  This year the event took place at the beautiful Freedom Park in Lagrange with delicious BBQ style food prepared by RTS Catering. Staff enjoyed basketball, chair massages (sponsored by CDPHP) and Painting on the Green with our own Randi Chalfin, Head Teacher at the Children’s Center at Family Court.  The event also included a live band featuring Denise Parent, Office Coordinator in Ulster County, and a sweet Ice Cream Bar where staff were served by the agency’s Leadership Team wearing retro Soda Jerk hats.  A great time was had by all!

By the Numbers
Staggering Statistics of Victims


Upcoming Events

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About Us


September 2018 Newsletter


The Work
By Brian Doyle, CEO
Having just celebrated Labor Day I am taking this opportunity to applaud members of our Family Services workforce to whom we owe great thanks.

Labor Day was established as “a day to celebrate the contributions that workers have made to the strength…and well-being of the country”. So, too, Family Services employees strengthen our community and the people of the community.

As I have said many times, everyone who works at Family Services contributes, in one way or another, to the overall mission of the agency. Whether it be our facilities staff, finance department employees or other administrative, support or supervisory staff. Everyone is “part of the whole” that has an extraordinary impact on the lives of those in our community.

In this column, I pay special tribute to those on the very “front lines” of our work – those who every day work directly with the children, families and individuals served by our various programs – Youth Services, Family Programs, Victim Services, Community Safety, Prevention, the Family Partnership Center.

The work of the victim advocate who meets, once again, with a domestic abuse survivor who is not yet ready to leave her offender can be tremendously frustrating and exhausting. Couple that with the exasperation that advocate experiences when the justice system falls short of holding the offender accountable and one can understand how that staff can feel totally drained.

The staff in our Teen Resource Activity Center and Elementary after School Programs, every day, provide care, nurturing and mentoring to kids many of whom face considerable challenges in their day-to-day lives. Helping a girl whose recent poor behaviors tell you, squarely, that she is contending with considerable adversity in her life. That she needs your support is not
something you can leave behind easily at the end of the workday. Such worries go home with you.

Helping the parent who may be at risk of losing their child to out of home placement is an incredibly emotional experience for the Family Educator trying to assist that family in staying together despite the odds.

The clinicians working with victims of sexual abuse are privy to heartbreaking stories of pain and loss, which can undeniably take a toll on those who do this work every day.

These are only a few examples of what it takes to do the work of helping people see their own strengths and achieve their own personal victories despite the hurdles in their way. There are many other examples whether it be in the work of SNUG, our Forensics programs, at the Family
Partnership Center, or elsewhere.

Of course, along with the difficulties associated with the work, there are also many rewards especially as employees see the individuals with whom they work draw on their inner strengths to achieve success!

Special Thanks

Family Services is grateful to the many friends who are supporting The Family Partnership Center Gymnasium and Urban Park Project. Thank you New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, Dyson Foundation, McCann Foundation, Nuhn Foundation, Louis Greenspan Trust, Linda and Steven Lant Family Fund, and Ulster Savings Bank. Together we are renovating the gymnasium and creating an outdoor park so that youth have access to a safe, clean and fun place to play!

Brian Doyle, CEO of Family Services accepts a donation from Valerie Belton of Ulster Savings Bank.

Program Spotlight

(Teen Resource Activity Center)

The Teen Resource Activity Center (TRAC) has been a safe haven for adolescents in the City of Poughkeepsie since 1999. Serving more than 200 teens each year (ages 13-18), TRAC offers a free, supervised place for youth to come afterschool during the school year or during the summer at the Family Partnership Center (FPC) where there is gymnasium and large auditorium. Here is one of the program’s success stories where the staff of TRAC impacted a young men’s substantially.
Tyzhaun Catts came to the TRAC program in September 2017. He was 18 and senior at Poughkeepsie High School. Tyzhaun had lost his mother to an illness when he was 10. He left his father’s home because he didn’t want to follow his father’s rules. After a brief absence from school he decided to go
back. Tyzhaun has always struggled academically because of developmental delays. He had an IEP and received special services from the school. Tyzhaun began to hang out with the wrong crowds and was in several altercations, one resulting in him being stabbed. He was going through a court case at the time and had to pay restitution for his crime. He told staff that he was not going to pay the fine; he was just going to jail because he felt like he needed to go away and get his mind together. Once staff heard this, they went into overdrive and strategies were planned. Staff ensured he paid the fine and then began to seek resources and options that were available. Tyzhaun finally began to see that the way he was living was going to either get him imprisoned and/or even worse get him killed. With staff’s assistance, Tyzhaun applied to Glenmont Job Corps and was accepted. Staff still checks in on him, often calling him and having long conversations. He is doing well and continuously thanks TRAC for saving his life.

By the Numbers

Within the walls of the Family Partnership Center an estimated 45,000 individuals are served annually with a minimum of 110,000 service interactions!


Yasmin Torres has been a visitation monitor for Family Services Supervised Visitation Program at Dutchess County Family Court for many years.  She works closely with Family Court staff to ensure that children are able to safely visit with their non-custodial parent.  Yasmin has made it her life’s work to protect children and make the world a better place for them.  Congratulation to Yasmin for publishing her first children’s book!

“Bella wonders, ‘Do I matter?’ Her parents have separated. She now lives with her daddy and she is confused. She just wants to see her mommy. No one seems to be listening to her. Have you felt like Bella? Bella wants you to know, you DO matter.”

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About Us


August 2018 Newsletter


Chris Pels, Director of Human Resources and Risk Management

The Value of Good Connections
By Chris Pels, Director of Human Resources and Risk Management
One of the recurring thoughts that keep those of us in the HR profession up at night is how to keep people engaged or connected to their jobs. Why is engagement so important? Well for starters, Dale Carnergie found that employers with engaged employees outperform others by 202%. Research on engagement has also shown increases in productivity, reductions in absenteeism, and better performance.
So clearly engagement is important, but how do you create engagement? Although a lot of thought has been given and ink spilled in answering this question, I would answer from experience that the most important way to create engagement is to ensure strong connections to one’s work…
What exactly do I mean by connections?
  • A strong connection with the mission of the organization – a clear path between what you do and how that impacts the lives of others.
  • A great connection with the leaders of the organization – relationships built on trust between the people leading the Agency and the staff who execute the work.
  • A super connection to one’s supervisor – the key relationship or connection in great jobs is having a supervisor who supports you and wants to see you grow.
  • A powerful connection with your colleagues – you dig the people you work with and know they have your back.
  • An unwavering connection with the culture – the values, mores, norms, and behaviors of the place you choose to work are consistent with who you are and what you value.
If you have these connections in place you’ll not only get great results, but you’ll also be happy in what you do!

Recent Events

On July 18th, Randi Chalfin, Head Teacher and Marist Intern Noelle Snyder, hosted an Open House at the Family Services Children’s Center at Family Court for interns and supervisors involved with Marist College’s Marie and Rupert Tarver Summer Internship Program. The event was extremely successful and was a great opportunity to network and expand working relationships with other nonprofit organizations in Dutchess County. Representatives from Grace Smith House, Children’s Home of Poughkeepsie, Hudson River Housing, and the Poughkeepsie Farm Project were in attendance.


On Saturday, July 21st staff from the partner agencies in the Family Partnership Center came together for the Dragon Boat Race as the Partnership Paddlers. It was amazing to see everyone come together and have fun in support of a great cause for the community! Thanks to staff from Hudson River Health Care, Dutchess Community College, Family Services, and Dutchess County Healthy Families for joining in the fun and congrats to Habitat for Humanity Dutchess County for a successful event!


MTA Police Department received their Lethality Assessment Program training through Family Services Center for Victim Safety and Support staff. They join the 15 police departments throughout Dutchess County that are already part of the project to assess domestic violence situations on scene for risk of homicide and connect victims to services immediately.

Program Spotlight

Last month, Outreach Worker Antuone Babb completed facilitating his first group as a Certified Offender Workforce Development Specialist in cooperation with local Probation. Antuone is the only SNUG Outreach Worker in the state with certification to facilitate the “Ready Set Work” workforce development curriculum for those returning home from being incarcerated.
Ready Set Work! is a 20 hour curriculum that helps probationers with skill building and equips them to make choices which will lead to employment and to job retention and advancement. Along with the traditional job readiness content the RSW curriculum also includes: Assessments, Barriers and Resources, Legal Issues and Financial Incentives, as well as a module which focuses on the local One Stops, to encourage increased probationer use of this valuable community resource.
One of our SNUG participants, Emmanuel Stewart, who has been working with Antuone through our program, has been able to find and secure employment. As a result, Parole has noticed Emmanuel’s commitment and efforts toward working hard to better his life through working with SNUG and has granted him an early release from parole.

By the Numbers
In 2017, 47 volunteers worked side by side with Family Services staff to provide hope, improve lives and strengthen our community.

Family Services’ Center for Victim Safety and Support (CVSS) is looking for volunteers for the fall. As a volunteer, you will help with a wide range of projects related to providing comprehensive services to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and other crimes. Must be 18 years of age or older with an availability of 4 hours per shift.
For more information on this opportunity, please contact Kathy Peluso at kpeluso@familyservicesny.org or 845.452.1110 x3138.


Employee Recognition
Thank you Dan Carroll for all that you do!

“Dan provides hope through his grounded and kind presence in the midst of a crisis response center. He improves the lives of clients and coworkers through his dedication and eagerness to support others.”

Upcoming Events


Leadership Partner

Family Services’ 2018
Leadership Partner

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Please support us when you shop on Amazon at AmazonSmile and Amazon donates .5% of the purchase price to Family Services! 

Leadership Team

Brian Doyle
Chief Executive Officer

Joan Crawford
Deputy Executive Director

Natalie Borquist
Chief Financial Officer

Amy Cole
Director of Family Support Services

Leah Feldman
Director of Center for Victim Safety and Support

Whitney Humphrey
Director of Development

Martina Kardol
Director of Forensic Programs

Christopher Pels
Director of Human Resources and Risk Management

Kevin Hazucha
President of Hudson Valley Mental Health

Mark Sasvary
Director of Clinical Services for Hudson Valley Mental Health
Dr. Yugandhar Munnangi
Medical Director for Hudson Valley Mental Health
Casey Hons
Director of Operations for Hudson Valley Mental Health

Our Partners at the Family Partnership Center

Community Voices Heard

Dutchess County Behavioral & Community Health

Dutchess Community College

Dutchess County Healthy Families

Dutchess Outreach

Flores Chiropractic Group NY

Hudson River Community Health Care

Hudson River Housing

Hudson Valley Mental Health

John Flowers Community Events

Mental Health America-Mel’s Place

Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson

Planned Parenthood

Prime Health Choice

R.E.A.L. Skills Network, Inc.

Rebuilding Our Children and Community

Sadie Peterson Delaney African Roots Library
845-452-6088 ext. 3343