Our world continues to look a little different than it did several weeks ago, and it is without question that we are living in unprecedented times. As many of us have transitioned our homes into offices and school classrooms, and many others have had to temporarily close their businesses or apply for unemployment, we all have had our worlds rearranged in some way and are adjusting to a new way of life amidst this Coronavirus epidemic.Every day it seems, we are hearing more unsettling news of the economic impacts and the emotional tolls that the virus has had on our nation and world. However, even in a world that has asked us to socially distance ourselves from our communities, families and friends, we have proven that we can be resilient to the loneliness and stress that this time often brings. We can be kind and compassionate and we are seeing moments of that every day. I have heard countless stories of people and businesses stepping up in extraordinary ways for their communities to provide a wave of hope in these uncertain times.
I am struck by the compassion of the healthcare workers providing both medical and emotional support to the influx of patients battling this virus alone. I have been in awe of the adaptability of businesses to move their services remotely and online, or have transitioned their industries to provide resources most needed. And I have been encouraged to see communities asking their neighbors and friends most at risk of contracting the virus how they can help.
Here at Family Services, I am amazed by the ability of our own staff to adapt and continue providing our much-needed, life-saving services to the community. The needs of children, adults and families do not stop during a crisis, and we recognize that our services are crucial now more than ever. During these challenging times, we are:
- Increasing behavioral health support. Our counselors and medical staff are providing support remotely and taking new clients in order to help people find support through these new difficulties.
- Helping those experiencing domestic violence. Victims of domestic violence see increased risk when quarantined with their abuser and our advocates have remained available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- Working with families that are facing new obstacles as they meet the roles of both caregiver and teacher while working from home or even facing job loss. Our Family Education is there to help families at increased risk of child abuse.
- Keeping the community informed by providing vital information, resources and updates through our website, Facebook and Instagram.
By the Numbers
184 more neighbors served
through our Behavioral Health Services
Just a short time ago, the onset of the Coronavirus seemed to be happening far from our communities and families. I never imagined us experiencing a time of illness and loss of life, the need for social isolation, closing of schools, the economic impact of unemployment and even something as basic as the inability to buy toilet paper. The carefree days of visiting family, friends and colleagues were suddenly put on hold while we practice social distancing. Shopping for groceries is now something we wish we could do with the freedom of just a few weeks ago when we did not need a mask and gloves to leave our homes. The safety, comfort and predictability of our routines of daily living have been turned upside down.
In the midst of dealing with the impact of the Coronavirus, it is common for any of us to experience increased levels of anxiety, depression, loneliness, or difficulty being clean and sober from alcohol and other drugs during this time of rapid change.
As a social worker for over 25 years, my goal has been to help people find hope and to support our ability to be resilient in the face of crisis. While at first glance we might feel that the adverse impact of the Coronavirus is too overwhelming and out of control. However, we must find our strength in the face of adversity. We know that people who go through difficult life experiences can emerge from them stronger and more resilient.
What can we all do to cope with the changes in our lives due to the onset of the Coronavirus?
- Use this time to connect with family and friends through phone calls or other social media.
- Be gentle with yourself. These are stressful times. Don’t ignore your thoughts and feelings. It’s okay to cry. Reach out to your support network.
- Start a gratitude journal. What are some small and some bigger things to be grateful for? Think about sunshine, fresh air, dancing, books, Netflix, popcorn and laughing.
- Start some healthy habits. Take a walk, exercise, drink water, and stick to a regular sleep schedule.
- If you have not tried relaxation or meditation techniques, now would be a great time to try it. There are many free apps to download on your cell phone or computer. New Yorkers can download this free mindfulness and meditation resource by clicking the link here to Headspace.
- Set limits on how much time you spend watching news reports.
- Plan meals and cook some favorite foods.
Make taking care of your physical and mental health a priority during this time and always.
Where can you get help?
Utilize telehealth: Family Services Behavioral Health Programs remain open to the people we serve.
For appointments in Dutchess County, call 845-485-9700.
For appointments in Ulster County, call 845-486-2703 ext. 4016.
If you are thinking about suicide or are worried about a friend or loved one, call or text the Dutchess County Helpline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 845-485-9700 or the National Suicide Hotline at 800-273-8255. Family of Woodstock has a 24-hour hotline at 845-338-2370 or 845-679-2485. If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 911.
Center for Victim Safety and Support/
Sexual Assault Response Team
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, a time for individuals and organizations to raise awareness about sexual harassment, assault, and abuse and educate communities on how to prevent it. While Family Services does this vital work everyday of the year, during April we invite the community to join us in raising awareness by participating in Wear Teal Day on April 7th and Wear Denim Day on April 29th. Throughout the month of April, we will be bringing awareness to sexual assault by posting a fact about sexual violence a day on Family Services social media: Facebook and Instagram.
Each year Family Services celebrates Sexual Assault Awareness Month by hosting our Annual Hope and Healing Art Show and Awards Ceremony. While we are unable to host this special event in April this year, we raise awareness from a distance and pay special tribute to this year’s “Champions of Victim’s Rights”: Allison Stuart, ADA with the Dutchess County District Attorney’s Office and valued partner in the community and Amy Cole, long time Family Services Director of Family Support Services and fierce advocate for child victims. We hope to hold the ceremony honoring these incredible partners soon!
During the COVID-19 crisis, the Center for Victim Safety and Support is unable to provide in-person support and services. The Sexual Assault Response Team has worked hard to ensure our clients will continue to access vital resources and support. Our 24-hour hotlines are available. Although advocates cannot be physically present, they are able to assist our clients through this difficult time and follow up in the days ahead. At hospitals, nurses connect the client with an advocate through the hotline. We are observing a decrease in clients showing up at the hospitals for sexual assaults. This might be due to people avoiding the hospital out of fear of exposure to COVID-19. It may also be due to the local colleges being closed, as statistics show the ages of 18-24 have the highest number of sexual assaults. We will continue to track how COVID-19 is affecting our clients.
Family Education Program
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. With the pandemic this year, there is a greater sense of urgency on raising awareness about child abuse. Now more than ever, stressors such as financial uncertainty, anxiety about the unknown, physical, social and mental health issues may contribute to triggers that result in child abuse. Social distancing and school closures may also add to the stress experienced by both adults and children.
While the statistics being circulated are alarming, there are resources that may be helpful in this volatile time of our lives:
- Parent/Caregiver Guide to Helping Families Cope With the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) (National Child Traumatic Stress Network, 2020)
- “The American Academy of Pediatrics Advises Parents Experiencing Stress over COVID-19” (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2020)
- Colorín Colorado is a bilingual, educational-resource site that includes some news and suggestions related to English-language learners’ (ELLs) education during this time. This may help mitigate the stress of some Spanish-speaking parents in finding online educational resources to continue their children’s education from home.
In the Family Education Program, our Family Educators are providing guidance for families during this crisis by conducting virtual check-ins with families they work with, as well as providing resources for families and conducting parenting groups remotely.
The Family Education Program uses the Nurturing Parenting Program, by Dr. Stephen Bavolek, in our work with families. Through the curriculum, we empower parents to experience, learn and practice nurturing parenting skills in order to become more nurturing parents to their children and break the cycle of abuse and neglect. The Nurturing Parenting Program reminds us that “Needs are the SPICES of Life” and serve as a good reminder for all of us during these unprecedented times.
The need for friendship, for companionship.
The need for sleep, for food, for exercise.
The need for intellectual stimulation, for thinking new thoughts, for reading challenging books, for learning something new.
The need to make something, to dance, to write a poem, to create something.
The need for love, for praise, for feeling worthwhile.
The need to know that we are part of something bigger than ourselves and that we can increase our awareness of and sensitivity to it.
A Look Back
Wear jeans with a purpose this April 29th and tag us in your social media (make sure the posts are public) so we can share your support and solidarity for survivors of sexual assault.
The campaign began after a ruling by the Italian Supreme Court where a rape conviction was overturned because the justices felt that since the victim was wearing tight jeans she must have helped the person who raped her remove her jeans, thereby implying consent. The following day, the women in the Italian Parliament came to work wearing jeans in solidarity with the victim. Peace Over Violence developed the Denim Day campaign in response to this case and the activism surrounding it. Denim Day asks community members, elected officials, businesses and students to make a social statement with their fashion statement by wearing jeans on this day as a visible means of protest against the misconceptions that surround sexual violence.
Join Family Services and other local area organizations on May 20th for #HVGives. #HVGives is a 24-hour day of giving that helps benefit many of your favorite non-profits in the Hudson Valley. Mark your calendars, bookmark our page and get ready to show your support!
Family Services’ 2019