September/October 2022


A Note from Our CEO

Remember Where You Came From

by Brian Doyle

Remember where you came from” – These words have been spoken by individuals who might be envious of another’s achievements and accomplishments coming out of a marginalized community and yet achieving success in their lives. That envious person might be unconsciously reinforcing stigmas that suggest a person from a marginalized community is unable to succeed against the odds that have faced them.

This was part of a conversation I recently had with Jannera Cruz, the  Financial Development Center Manager (The Financial Development Center is an extension of Heritage Financial Credit Union which is a new and most-welcomed partner at the Family Partnership Center).

Jannera spoke of the pride she has in achieving her position with Heritage.  She does not hesitate to note the Credit Union is tremendously supportive as an employer. Jannera spoke of her notable accomplishment of being the first person in her family to receive a high school diploma and then advancing on to college.

“Remember where you come from” can best be used as a call to all of us to remember that we are all a “product of immigration”.  This reminder is engraved on a lapel pin I keep on my desk.

When I remember “where I came from”, I think of a seventeen-year-old woman sailing from Cork County in Ireland to New York City. My own grandmother, Mary Sullivan, arrived here and first served as a domestic servant to one of Manhattan’s Eastside wealthy families.  From there, she raised a family and made the way for her future generations.  Little did she know…  The road may be difficult and paved with trials and tribulations, but there is a destination.

As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, it is vital to look with pride on the ways in which past & present immigrants continually contribute to all that we cherish in this country.

So, to some who are striving to achieve, “remember where you came from” may be an ill-advised cautionary.  These words, for the remainder of us, allows us to celebrate the positive contributions immigrants continue to make to American society. 

 Thank you for reminding us, Jannera!


A Message of Hope, Possibility and Life

by Lori Lentini, Vice President of Behavioral Health

September is a month of new beginnings, children go back to school, fall approaches, holiday planning gets underway and the anniversary of 911 is remembered. September is also a month to celebrate hope, recovery, and life. Checking in on loved one’s mental health can be supportive, and you might get the opportunity to talk them through stressful moments and events, helping them stay on the path to overall wellness.
September is National Recovery Month. The purpose and goal through September is to join together and celebrate individuals in recovery, and offer hope to anyone struggling. It is a time to reinforce the positive message that Behavioral Health is essential for overall health, treatment works, and people do in fact recover.
Recovery is not easy or always accomplished on the first attempt. As with any change in life, there are days where your motivation is endless and days where you struggle to find any. Be kind to yourself or others on this path. Keep going and encourage yourself and family and friends to forge on in their quest for recovery. Share that treatment is available and recovery is possible. Family Services is here to help with your mental health needs.
The theme for 2022 National Recovery month is “Recovery is for Everyone: Every Person, Every Family, Every Community.”  Both so true and so inspiring.
Mental health is complicated, and like physical health it faces many challenges. September is not only National Recovery Month, it is also World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10, 2022.
According to the World Health Organization “Each suicidal death is a public health concern with a profound impact on those around them. By raising awareness, reducing the stigma around suicide, and encouraging well-informed action, we can reduce instances of suicide around the world.”- If you are experiencing a mental health crisis please call the 988 hotline immediately.
“Creating hope through action” is the theme for the World Suicide Prevention Day.
By eliminating the stigma and talking about this struggle, lives can be saved. We all play a role, individually, through advocacy, culture change, education and funding.

Program Spotlights

Ulster Prevention Council

by Susan Baxter, Program Director

The Ulster Prevention Council received a grant through Ulster County to run a yearlong student driven campaign to spread a message campaign around substance use. The NACCHO-funded UCPM campaign ended on the 31st of July. Over the course of this grant, students in Ulster County created one billboard and bus ad design, six radio PSAs for local stations, eight videos for streaming services, and managed the campaign’s social media presence.
The six radio pieces were played on a rotating schedule, and were featured on WDST, WKZE, iHeart Media, Townsquare Media, and channels hosted by Pamal Broadcasting. Charter/Spectrum ran the videos on streaming services and through live television broadcasts. Bus ads could be seen on the UCAT buses, and sixteen billboards across Ulster County promoted the campaign. Actions have also been taken to promote project sustainability, including creating t-shirts to give out to the community to maintain brand awareness. The Ulster County Department of Health is currently working on a sustainability plan with the Ulster County Chamber of Commerce, and a list of student leaders who wish to remain involved in the project is being collected.
Check out this videos from the Ulster Prevention Council!

Domestic Violence Offender Project

by Onaje Benjamin, Case Manager

The Domestic Violence Offender Project (DVOP) is an offender focused, victim-centered approach to holding accountable the most serious and chronic offenders known to law enforcement, all while prioritizing victim and community safety. The DVOP intervenes where possible to prevent violence from continuing or escalating by offering support services and elevating the community moral voice against violence. With its unique focus on offender accountability, DVOP offers Dutchess County a novel opportunity to leverage its law enforcement and community resources to address the ongoing challenge of chronic Intimate Partner Violence offending, while also continuing to ensure the highest levels of victim and community safety.

The Operations Team was formed in early 2019, with leadership from the City of Poughkeepsie Police Department, the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office, the Dutchess County District Attorney’s Office, the Public Defender’s Office (in an advisory capacity), the Dutchess County Office of Probation and Community Corrections, and Family Services. The DVOP also offers case management services to individuals involved in police related incidents, including those which do not result in a formal complaint. Case Management services are offered in the hopes that identifying needed resources and supports can support the reduction of coercive control incidents among individuals eligible for DVOP services.
The Operations Team looks forward to seeing the impact of the DVOP in enhancing the existing DV infrastructure, strengthening support to members of the community, while reducing the incidents of intimate partner violence.

A Look Back

On Thursday July 14, we hosted our annual Family of the Year awards dinner at the Poughkeepsie Grandview. We wanted to give you the opportunity to look through the photos our incredible photographer, Gabbi Gershowitz shot that night! Click here!

We are so thrilled to announce that after being closed for an extended time due to the pandemic, the Children’s Center at Dutchess Family Court is reopening! Starting 3 days a week (Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays) from 9:30-4:30 pm. Beginning Monday, September 26, we will be open five days per week. The Children’s Center provides free child care for families that have business at Family Court.

Our incredible and dedicated Children’s Center team has been working hard to ready and reopen the Center, and we extend our deepest gratitude to Tina Valentino, Joe Parise, Lavasia James and Myah Perino on their hard work, effort, and passion!
On September 2nd we hosted the American Red Cross for a Blood Drive here at the Family Partnership Center, in total they collected 13 units of blood, which potentially impacts the lives of 39 people. We look forward to welcoming them back for another drive with an even bigger collection!
Our advocates from CVSS had a wonderful time at the National Night Out event – a night to enhance the relationship between law enforcement and the community. This event was such a success that they rain out of brochures and swag! We thank all that attended and stopped by to talk!
On Friday August 12th Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado came to the Family Partnership Center and shared his personal life experiences with our SNUG Program! Per his post, he spoke on his visit:
“The Family Services Partnership Center in Poughkeepsie provides critical resources including children’s programming, teen outreach, homeless assistance, and mental health services all under one roof. They also provide one of 12 SNUG Street Outreach programs in the state. Today, after touring the Center, I joined the New York State Office of Victim Services and the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services for a SNUG Hip Hop Therapy session where I spoke about my own background in Hip Hop and how it can be used to build connections and diffuse conflict.”
On August 23rd we distributed the school supplies generously supplied by our local Chase Bank branches, and it was a huge success! Every supply was given out, and we couldn’t have been be more thrilled to see all those full backpacks leave. Special thank you to Wappingers Branch Lead Associate of Operations, Christine Kleiner for organizing the drive among the branches and volunteering her time to help distribute to the children!
On Thursday September 15 we were honored to attend the Grand Opening Event of Heritage’s Financial Development Center right here in the Family Partnership Center! This Partnership is a much needed and exciting addition to our building.
The main objective of the FDC is to provide a pathway for the unbanked and underserved through financial education and awareness into responsible banking and financial wellness. As this program leads with financial assessment and education, appointments are recommended to afford the opportunity to have timely, focused, in depth conversation, with walk-ins accepted based on availability; please refer to the attached welcome flyer to view how this will be communicated to walk­ ins within the FDC. All community members can access safe and affordable Heritage Financial Credit Union products and services intended to help communities make possible their financial hopes and dreams.
We are looking forward to watching Heritage help our community flourish, and once again welcome to the FPC!

Upcoming Events

During The National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims advocates and community members commemorate murder victims and surviving family members. The day also honors the work of organizations that provide services, including support, advocacy, and counseling for families, individuals and communities coping with homicide-related deaths. Join us on September 28 as we honor those who have had their lives taken from them.

Join us on Saturday, October 15 to take a stand against sexual assault and domestic violence and show your support for survivors!

Together, we will walk to end sexual assault and domestic violence, to show our solidarity with survivors, and to raise funds for services that not only support victims, but also educate youth on violence prevention and help offenders turn away from abusive behavior.

Festival of Trees is back for another fun filled event!

Mark your calendar and make it a part of your holiday season! Your family will enjoy beautifully decorated and unique holiday trees and wreaths while shopping local artisans and vendors.

Join Our Family Tree

By joining our Family Tree, you are supporting our vision of stronger, safer communities where our neighbors have access to critical resources when they need it most.

Support Family Services when you shop online

By choosing Family Services as your charity of choice through AMAZON SMILE, Amazon will donate .5% of all qualified purchases to Family Services.

Family Services’ 2022 Leadership Partners

Find Us On Social Media

July/August 2022


A Note from Our CEO

Saving Our Children: Guns are only part of the problem.

by Brian Doyle

In the days following the massacres at Buffalo and Uvalde there were necessary conversations about what measures could be taken to reduce access to lethal arms for those who would wield those horrible weapons to wound, maim and kill. While some parties, inexplicably, cited the Second Amendment (a sacred commandment?), as reason to resist sensible changes, there were, ultimately, a few modest but welcome measures passed by Congress.

Hopefully, over time, there will be further movement – incremental as it might be – toward laws that keep battle armory from the hands of an 18-year-old estranged and confused person. Constitutional rights can be upheld while still putting in place common sense restrictions on access to combat weaponry. In the days following Buffalo and Uvalde, we have seen ample reason for further gun reform – Highland Park being just another horrific example.
While further efforts toward gun reform are needed, shouldn’t we be astounded, if not ashamed, that there is still so little attention being paid to what stands right before us? Day in and day out we see video games and movies that depict violence and terror wielded by individuals or groups of individuals against those they have some real or imagined vendetta.
Surely, over the past 100 years, the film industry has produced some of the finest art that has enriched and continues to enrich our lives. However, Hollywood with our blessing and financial support also continues to produce films that intoxicate the minds of young viewers with visions of vengeance and mayhem. Whether it be the latest Terminator: Dark Fate, 20th or Quentin Tarantino (celebrated Director!), Twentieth Century, Warner Brothers, Columbia and others keep spewing out this pornography that passes for entertainment.
Meanwhile the sale of violent video games like Mortal Kombat and Doom are an international industry that has exploded from a $60B in 2013 to over $150B today – all at the expense of the young minds and hearts of those impressionable, and now desensitized young souls who see themselves among the aggrieved, but soon to be “masters” in these movies and games.
 Of course, engaging in such shocking video games is no absolute predictor of acting out violence. There are many who use these games and do not reap deadly havoc. However, it is without doubt a risk factor, the evidence not to be ignored. This is clear when one delves behind the mass shooting headlines!  This fact was, unfortunately, ignored in the Supreme Court’s ruling that continues to allow the ongoing proliferation of these violent games, unabated. This is a monumental tragedy that today’s culture allows and even promotes the production of these media, unchecked, never mind removed, altogether.
Putting aside, for the moment, government regulatory efforts, there are ways, big and small to try to slow, if not stop altogether the craven greed of those behind the destructive culture of violence. It starts with parents and caregivers preventing their children from spending time with this trash. It extends to calling out those companies and celebrities who profit from the industry, and it can extend to boycotts of the parent companies whose subsidiaries traffic in the poison that continues to infect our children.
There is no one way to curb the increasing gun violence in our country, but if we do not recognize and respond to the many contributing causes, we will surely fail to save our children, and ourselves. 


The Power of Friendship

by Whitney Humphrey, Vice President of Community Programs

Sometimes it seems as if every time I turn on the news, I am met with another story of tragedy. Across our country and the world there are divisions that undermine peace and highlight the cracks in the foundation of harmony. While there are a multitude of resolutions to the challenges we face as a global community to be debated, I propose that one significant aspect of the way forward is something we have been learning since our early days on the elementary school playground… friendship. 

Building connections goes beyond sharing a favorite pastime, political party, or physical trait – building relationships gives us the opportunity to embrace diversity, include as many voices as possible, and work together to build a stronger, safer community for all. Since 2011, the United Nations has invited us to celebrate International Day of Friendship on July 30, with the idea that friendship can inspire peace efforts and build bridges between communities. What a wonderful day to celebrate these important and life changing relationships!
The power of friendship, however, extends beyond its ability to build solidarity – friendship has the power to improve our health.  Friends prevent isolation and loneliness while increasing happiness and lowering stress levels.  A good friend can help boost our self-esteem and help us see our self-worth. Friends help us weather the losses of life and are critical to our mental and physical health. In fact, studies have found that older adults who have meaningful relationships and social support are likely to live longer than their peers with fewer friendships.
As important as friendships are throughout the lifespan, friendships are critical during adolescence. Teen friendships help youth feel a sense of acceptance and support the development of empathy and social and emotional skills. Friendships help teens navigate stress, experience lower rates of anxiety and depression, and even improve cognitive function. Developing supportive relationships is critical in these formative years as studies show that youth who have close friendships in adolescence have better mental health as young adults. Now more than ever, it is important that youth have a safe place of belonging and acceptance where they have the support they need to develop and nurture friendships.  At Family Services, we operate the Teen Resource Activity Center (TRAC) every day after school and have activities all throughout the summer to give youth a sense of belonging in a place where they can develop their athletic, creative, academic, workforce and social skills in fun and supportive ways. If you know a child who needs a place of belonging, TRAC and other youth programs at the Family Partnership Center are available throughout the summer months.
In honor of International Friendship Day, I encourage all of us to reconnect with the individuals in our lives who inspire us, support us, and challenge us to be better people. At the end of the day, I think the shared meals, laughter filled conversations, pick-up basketball games, and community celebrations will do more than just lift our spirits, I think they will lay the foundation of a stronger community here and around the world.
On behalf of Family Services, we are grateful to call each of you friend. 

Program Spotlights

TRAC: Teen Resource Activity Center

by Debra Long, SNUG & Youth Services Program Coordinator 

The Teen Resource Activity Center (TRAC) has been a critical resource for many youth within our community. Our programing has grown significantly this past year and we currently have over 350 youth registered. Not only did our program participants engage in an initiative to build trust between youth and the City of Poughkeepsie Police Department, several of our youth participants attended Entrepreneurship Workshops and are working with local businesses in their area of interest. Youth have access to building their life skills around health, nutrition, and gardening, and have also been challenged to express themselves creatively through podcasting and working in our on-premises community music studio.

This summer is certain to be an exciting time for our young people within our community. We are offering robust programming throughout the summer to keep youth engaged, stimulated, and create positive memories to carry with them into the upcoming academic year. This summer, the TRAC program is providing lunch and dinner free of charge every weekday. We are contracting with a professional tutor to offer academic support four days per week. We contracted with a professional author to work with youth to write their own children’s books. We are offering coding classes twice per week. We contracted with a professional to work with kids and teens in the Music Studio and for podcasting. They have daily access to recreational activities in our gymnasium, featuring weekly basketball clinics, lawn games, flag football, gardening, and yoga. We also offer entrepreneurship workshops and gun/gang violence prevention workshops. TRAC is partnering with Dutchess Outreach to offer community service-based cooking classes for youth interested in learning new skills and how to give back to the community. TRAC also has several fieldtrips planned this summer to outdoor hotspots and major sporting events.

Family Partnership Center

by Tanysha Castellas, FPC Building Steward

Greetings FSI Family, Partners, and Friends, as your FPC Steward I would like to update you on the amazing things happening in the building. FPC Summer Session is in full swing, with participating partners R.E.A.L. Skills, Finish Strong, Poughkeepsie Performing Arts Academy, Love Quest Foundation, SNUG, and TRAC operating summer programs onsite from July 5, through August 31st, 2022.

We would officially like to welcome FDC (Financial Development Center) to FPC. The FDC is an extension of the Heritage Financial Credit Union whose mission is to expand economic opportunity for underserved people and communities by supporting the growth of financial service providers. The FDC’s focus will be to assist underserved communities within Poughkeepsie to provide financial opportunities through guidance and education. FDC is to provide a pathway for those without a bank and underserved through financial education and awareness of responsible banking and financial wellness. As this program leads with financial assessment and education. FPC community members can access safe and affordable Heritage Financial Credit Union products and services intended to help communities make possible their financial hopes and dreams. I will provide you with updates on the FDC grand opening coming soon.
Our Sadie Peterson Delaney African Roots Poughkeepsie Public Library District Branch will be hosting:
‘Read, Write, Talk, Sing, Play’: Early Literacy Workshop for Parents
Monday, July 11 at 6 PM
This family workshop will consist of a brief presentation about the importance of the five early literacy practices that families can do together at home to help prepare their children for kindergarten. After a brief overview, parents and their child/children will get to do activities with their children to practice each early literacy skill. Each session will focus on one skill. Early literacy backpacks will be available for checkout at each session. Parents and their children ages 3 and 4 are invited to register.
Family Story Time!
Saturdays, July 9 – August 13, 10 – 10:30 AM
No registration is required. Join us for stories and songs followed by a craft.
Branch Hours – Monday, Wednesday, and Friday: 1 – 5 PM
Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday: 10 AM – 2 PM.
Please continue to send your photos from FPC events to the steward, at

A Look Back

On Thursday July 14, we hosted our annual Family of the Year awards dinner at the Poughkeepsie Grandview. We wanted to take a moment now and give a heartfelt to the Rohde Family, Jim & Gina Sullivan, sponsors, auction donors, speakers, planning committee, and attendees for such a wonderful and successful evening! Additionally a special thank you goes to Kathy Vacca, Development & Events Manager for her hard work making the night a success! We were overwhelmed by the outpouring support, and the night wouldn’t have been so incredible without you all!
This is just a small taste of the evening, as we will be sharing all the details, along with photos of the night from our amazing event photographer, Gabbi Gershowitz in a special email within the the next two weeks.

We were so proud to share that one of our very own, Mary Hess, from our Behavioral Health Center in Beacon was a recipient this year at Hudson Valley Magazine’s 12th Annual Excellence in Nursing awards! We couldn’t think of a more deserving person!

On Tuesday June 14, at the Rondout School District Board Meeting, Ulster Prevention Council recognized our very own Susan Baxter and Hannah Crisafulli for their Prevention Services implemented in that district. Susan and Hannah attended the meeting and received the Champions of Change award in collaboration with the High School. We just needed to take a moment to share how proud we are of them, especially as this is their first year providing direct services to this district after working diligently over the years to promote our programs. Please join us in congratulating them on this success!
*From March to May, Ulster Prevention Council implemented services in Rondout Valley High School. Students in the 9th and 10th grades received evidence-based education that covered social and emotional learning, substance use, and mitigating biases. Students participated in class discussions and used self-reflection writing prompts to help create a program best suited for their needs. In the upcoming school year, UPC will be providing the same evidence-based programming to the incoming 9th and 10th graders.
We recently shared the news of Brian’s upcoming retirement. To read our full statement from Family Services Chair of the Board, Freddy Garcia discussing Brian’s retirement, please click here!

Upcoming Events

We are so honored to partner with the Red Cross for a Blood Drive, here at the Family Partnership Center on September 2! There is a critical shortage of live-saving blood right now, and we all can do our part to help save a life! To schedule your appointment now, click here!

Join us on Saturday, October 15 to take a stand against sexual assault and domestic violence and show your support for survivors!

Together, we will walk to end sexual assault and domestic violence, to show our solidarity with survivors, and to raise funds for services that not only support victims, but also educate youth on violence prevention and help offenders turn away from abusive behavior.
Additional details about signing up your team, or how to become a sponsor will be announced within the next few weeks!

National Night Out culminates annually on the first Tuesday in August.National Night Out is celebrated by millions of neighbors across thousands of communities, so we invite you to join us on August 2 for a night of community partnership and fun!A

Join Our Family Tree

By joining our Family Tree, you are supporting our vision of stronger, safer communities where our neighbors have access to critical resources when they need it most.

Support Family Services when you shop online

By choosing Family Services as your charity of choice through AMAZON SMILE, Amazon will donate .5% of all qualified purchases to Family Services.

Family Services’ 2022 Leadership Partners

Find Us On Social Media

May/June 2022


A Note from Our CEO

What We Value:  Bringing People Together To Find the Support They Need, Improving Their Lives And Communities, And Building a Stronger, Safer Hudson Valley.

by Brian Doyle

Along with our clear mission, we hold our agency values close to our hearts as they are embedded in our mission and also serve as our guiding principles. They are to direct us in not only what we do, but how we do it.  We have found eight values as being of highest order for us and so it is worth taking a few moments to reflect on them.

We believe in Hope and the strength of the human spirit – the heart’s ability to emerge and thrive in the face of challenge and despair. So many people with whom we work endure unfathomable obstacles and yet their strength inspires us to preserve hope, shoulder-to-shoulder, along with them!

As we work in a world where there are so many people marginalized and facing disparities, Justice is of primary value to us. We work to promote social and economic equity and fairness.  There are countless arenas where justice does not exist whether it be about race, economic status, gender or social background.  We believe in Justice.

Surely, Compassion is what initially brought many of us to work at Family Services and is much of what keeps us here. It draws us to extending empathy and understanding to others who need and deserve our judgement free compassion.

In order to effectively do our work and to maintain the support and partnership of others, both  within the organization and with the surrounding community, Integrity has to play a critical  part in strengthening those bonds simply by being honest and trustworthy and letting people know that if we commit to something, we have to mean it.

Diversity is a vital strength of our community, and so we promote a vision of Community, a mosaic, made up of wide-ranging assets and cultures.

Every day we are called upon to treat people with Respect, just as we all wish to have respect paid to ourselves. We value owing to the belief that all individuals deserve to be treated with dignity and without judgements that separate us from one another.

Community is about recognizing, reinforcing and co-creating the importance of a world comprised of people of numerous, differing strengths, perspectives and riches.  We truly do believe in “Communities Without Limits”.

And finally, the importance of Quality cannot be overstated. It has to be a hallmark of our work – striving for excellence in what we do, striving for excellence as we are stewards of the funds afforded us by our partners in government, donors, foundations and otherwise.

While we want these values to be central to the way we conduct ourselves, we do not pretend to suggest that we do not falter. There are certainly times when we don’t fully live these values.  And in those instances, our commitment is to recognize and acknowledge where we fall short and to pledge to do better the following day and the following tomorrows.


Social Justice: We Cannot Stop Fighting

by Natalie Borquist, CFO

I hadn’t planned to write on this topic today, but as I watched the latest news out of Washington yesterday regarding the likely overturning of Roe vs Wade, on top of the brutalities occurring in Ukraine, I was overcome with such strong emotions and concern. This article will not focus on the Pro-Choice/Pro-Life debate nor the war, but rather on the concept of social justice. Family Services has a long history of standing for, advocating for, and upholding social justice. We take an active role in creating legislation and educating the community to effect social change. By effecting positive social change, we help individuals find the opportunity to lead their best lives.
It is difficult to not feel somewhat defeated at times, to see social justice issues take one step forward and two steps back. Yet clearly, the only way forward is to keep pushing and fighting for what we believe in, what we hope for, and what is right. Family Services will continue its work to challenge oppression and promote social justice. And we, as individuals, need to consider how we can make a difference and take action. While it may seem overwhelming to get started, here are some steps that can be made to get involved.
·      Educate yourself about social justice issues
·      Discover your local organizations
·      Take positive action in your own community
·      Attend demonstrations and protests
·      Volunteer
·      Donate
Let me end by sharing some excerpts from author Emmaline Soken-Huberty’s article “What Does Social Justice Mean?”1
Justice is the concept of fairness. Social justice is fairness as it manifests in society. That includes fairness in healthcare, employment, housing, and more. Discrimination and social justice are not compatible.
Social justice means that everyone’s human rights are respected and protected. Everyone has equal opportunities. This doesn’t guarantee that society will be perfect and everyone will always be happy. However, everyone will have a fighting chance at the life they want. They aren’t held back by things out of their control like systemic obstacles or discrimination. There isn’t one clear framework for what successful social justice looks like in practice, but that’s why principles like participation are so important. As long as a nation values social justice and remains committed to equality, progress is possible.
Social justice depends on four essential goals: human rights, access, participation, and equity. Social justice can’t be achieved without these four principles.

Program Spotlights


by Debra Long, SNUG & Youth Services Program Coordinator 

SNUG is an evidence-based street outreach program which treats gun violence as a disease by identifying its causes and interrupting its transmission. The program focuses on youth between the ages of 14 and 24 who are at high risk for involvement with gun violence. So far this year, the SNUG team has spent over 190 hours canvasing, have held 17 events, and have mediated over 50 conflicts in the City of Poughkeepsie Community.

Despite the increase in gun violence across New York State, SNUG staff have increased their visibility in target areas and safe passage. Target areas are places where high-risk behaviors are exhibited. For example, target areas often involve increased traffic, gang activity, and shots fired.
Safe Passage is a community program to reduce or prevent violence. Since the start of 2022, the SNUG team has worked to prevent shootings by mediating conflicts with those who are at risk of being shot and/or becoming shooters. This year, one of our new SNUG Outreach workers initiated a Step Dance team for all youth ages 5 through 18. The Step Team has been a highlight for the community. Step team routines are a form of dancing with roots steeped in African American culture. At the same time, our Step Team is all-inclusive, featuring a diverse range of races, genders, and cultural backgrounds shared by the members. Most of all, though, they share a passion for dance. Much like the roots of Hip-Hop and Swing dance, Step Teams come from the tradition of the “gumboot” dances of South Africa. Performed by miners to entertain themselves when not in the mines, it came to the U.S. in 1940 and was adopted by the nascent Black fraternities and sororities at institutions of higher learning. Like all living dance traditions, the Step Team routines changed as new cultural influences affected it. With a team dedicated and passionate about want we do, we are creating a rich tradition of pride, unity, and service. Steppin’ is one of the more positive and energetic dance forms.

New Location: Poughkeepsie Behavioral Health Center

by Shaun Cohen, LMHC, NCC, Community Clinical Services Coordinator

Artist Rendering of the new center

Family Services’ Poughkeepsie Behavioral Health Center is excited to announce we will be moving to a new location this Fall. Family Services is committed to our new center being built with a focus on providing services in a trauma informed environment and design, ensuring the space is comfortable and safe for the communities we serve.
Apart from physical structure, the center has been created to ensure easy access to services. Currently, we have contracted with SunRiver Health to create an onsite Article 28 Community Health Center which will provide primary care support to our clients and the community. The site will also include a pharmacy and several community providers who will have a regular onsite presence at the center. Family Services is working with MHA’s Director of Case Management, Mike Napolitano on the integration of onsite Case Management. Through affiliation with Dan Strang, the Director of the Lexington Center’s Main Street Clinic, we are piloting a rapid referral program with a Peer lead focus.
Through a collaborative care model, the new clinic will combine behavioral health, medical treatment, and case management supports to assure the needs of our clients will be met with ease at the new Poughkeepsie Behavioral Health Center.  

A Look Back

On April 26th CVSS held their annual Visions of Hope and Healing Art Show, and we would like to thank Kathy Peluso and the entire CVSS team for putting on such a incredibly powerful event!
We gathered to see local artists and poets supply beautiful work, and discuss the healing that is taking place. With opening remarks by Family Services’ CEO Brian Doyle, other speakers included Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro & City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Robert Rolison, Presenting the “Champion of Victims’ Rights'” Award, ADA Kristine Whelan & Director of CVSS Kait Rodriques to this years recipient ADA Allison Stuart!


Family Services’ and our incredible partners were thrilled to have Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney at the Family Partnership Center on April 25! Alongside CEO Brian Doyle, they discussed the 1.2M dollar grant Congressman Maloney sponsored towards our Capital Campaign for critical improvements in the FPC. Together we are working towards a better and brighter future, and improving and updating our building for our community. We extend our deepest gratitude to the Congressman for the continued support in helping us serve the community!
Take a look an some of our amazing team members on Wear Demin Day!
The campaign began over 23 years ago 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.
On March 26th we were thrilled to host Stuntmen Aaron Joshua and Joey Spano as they graciously donated their time to Youth Services to teach two free workshops on Combat fighting for film! The kids learned some industry secrets to “fighting” on camera, and got to talk about Black Panther, Spider-Man and Avengers with Aaron, who did stunt work in those films! We hope to plan for their return in the future.

Upcoming Events

Have you dreamed of making history? Of course, we all have. And now we have a chance to be a part of our community’s day of giving – an opportunity to unite our community around causes in which we truly believe and help nonprofit organizations connect to the larger community.

So let’s get ready to give! On May 18, visit and make a donation to us and/or to any of the great participating nonprofit organizations in our community. All giving will end at 11:59PM on May 18, so make sure to get your gift in on time, but don’t worry, we will be sending out reminders in advance!
Join Family Services and Wear Green on May 19 to show support and raise awareness for Mental Health Awareness Month! #EndtheStigma
This year we are proud to honor:
The Rohde Family – The Good Neighbor Award
Jim and Gina Sullivan – The Quality of Life Award
The Rohde and Sullivan families embody the ideals of Family Services and have contributed immensely to our community. We hope you will join us in honoring them and in helping Family Services continue building communities without limits.
Guests will share an elegant evening overlooking the Hudson River as we honor these incredible families at the Grandview in Poughkeepsie. During cocktail hour, guests will enjoy delectable food and drink in the Riverview Cocktail Room, while catching up with friends and shopping our unique auction to benefit the programs of Family Services.  During dinner, we will celebrate our Families of the Year in the beautiful ballroom.

Join Our Family Tree

By joining our Family Tree, you are supporting our vision of stronger, safer communities where our neighbors have access to critical resources when they need it most.

Support Family Services when you shop online

By choosing Family Services as your charity of choice through AMAZON SMILE, Amazon will donate .5% of all qualified purchases to Family Services.

Family Services’ 2022 Leadership Partners

Find Us On Social Media

March/April 2022 Newsletter


A Note from Our CEO

Reminding Yourself to be Hopeful

by Brian Doyle


At Family Services we often say that our most important work is helping people to see within themselves the assets and strength to overcome their challenges, to make better their own lives.

Perhaps that is no more true anywhere than in our Behavioral Health Centers. That is the work of our caring professionals – Social Workers, Psychiatrists, Mental Health Counselors, Nurses, Nurse Practitioners, and yes – even those office staff who are most often the first welcoming and warm voice a client encounters.
Family Services’ licensed Behavioral Health Centers are found throughout Ulster and Dutchess Counties: In Poughkeepsie, Beacon, Kingston, Rhinebeck, Dover, Millbrook, Highland, and Ellenville.
There are many reasons for which people are reluctant to seek help for behavioral health ailments. Surely, a shortage of clinicians and transportation barriers are among them, but perhaps the single greatest impediment is the stigma that is still associated with mental illness. If you fall and fracture a wrist, you immediately go to the emergency room. If you are suffering from anxiety, depression, or other hurt to your soul, the presence of stigma may likely force you into isolation, distancing yourself from what or who may be able to help.>In a recent Podcast of “Peter and the Poet Gold”, Kahli Mercik, a devoted Social Worker and Director of Family Services’ Behavioral Health Center in Beacon, thoughtfully articulated how isolation impacts someone who is struggling:
“If you are isolated, you do not have someone to remind you of your greatness, you don’t have someone to remind yourself to be hopeful…….”.

I think it is safe to say at one time or another we have all known what it is to be alone in a state of pain or confusion, and while the help of family and friends can be a great help, it may not always be enough. And that is why the professional staff of Family Services offers treatment to over 5,000 people in a given year. That treatment can take the form of one-to-one counseling or group therapy. It can be in-person, or for those who have transportation or other barriers, it can be in the form of tele-health!

As Kahli reminds us….
“There are so many smart, beautiful, powerful people out there who are struggling with big feelings, big issues, with things that even though their friends and families love them, and want to talk to them, they need professional support for”.
To learn more about the ways Family Services Behavioral Health professionals are there for you or your loved ones, visit our website.
I also think you won’t regret listening to more of what Kahli has to say in the “Peter and the Poet Gold” Podcast.


International Women’s Day

Covid-19 impact on progress

by Casey Hones, Vice President for Operations Cooperate Compliance Officer


International Women’s Day, which fell on March 8th, was first celebrated in 1911, in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. It became more widely internationally recognized by the United Nations in 1975. International Women’s Day (IWD) is a day to celebrate how far women have come in society, politics and in economics. The colors of IWD are purple which signifies justice and dignity, green which symbolizes hope, and white which represents purity.
While women in have made enormous strides since 1975, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about devastating setbacks. The most recent Global Gender Gap Report in 2021 showed that the time needed to close the global gender gap has increased by a generation from 99.5 years to 135.6 years.
Globally, in the past two years, violence against women has increased, women have been forced to leave the workforce in order to care for children home from school and the political landscape has been altered drastically. We’ve seen negative impacts on women’s education as Afghan women have been banned from education and employment, and in healthcare as well, as reproductive rights have been stripped away in many areas of America.
The one thing that the pandemic could not change is the will of women to fight against injustice. In Mexico, women turned metal fencing from the National Palace into memorials for victims of femicide. Polish women protested across the country to fight a near total ban on abortion. All across the world, marches still took place in 2021 and 2022 to celebrate IWD, despite continued concerns around COVID-19.
There have also been numerous milestones surpassed in the areas of leadership and politics. We have elected the first female, first black, and first Asian American Vice President in the United States. Tanzania and Honduras both swore in their first female Presidents. Paid bereavement leave for women who have had miscarriages or stillbirth was passed in New Zealand.
It is clear that while the COVID-19 pandemic has reversed a significant amount of progress made in the last 50 years, women have yet to give up on closing the gender gap by propelling themselves into leadership positions where they will continue to bring their knowledge to all tables and empower those around them.

Program Spotlights

Family Education Program: Enhanced Parenting Time

by Nicole Wong, Director of Family Support Services 

In 2021, the Family Education Program welcomed the Enhanced Parenting Time (EPT) Program to their Ulster County Office. This program enhances the existing services in the Ulster County Family Treatment Court (FTC) by providing specific, curriculum-guided skills for building healthy family relationships and aiding in promoting the family goals of reunification for those involved with FTC.

This program provides critical parenting education and supervised visitation services to families experiencing substance use disorders who are engaged in Ulster County’s Family Treatment Court.

Since the program’s establishment, staff have served 7 parents and 9 children and provided 141 parenting time sessions. Five of the seven families have been able to move to a less restrictive level of care and supervision, which includes two families who were granted home-based visitation. So far, this program has had an incredibly high success rate, however, some of the more meaningful impacts we’ve had with our families have been assisting to establish rituals and mealtimes during visitation and assisting families as they transition home.
These opportunities to work with our families in a new and unique way have been a true gift to us in the Family Education Program. 

Sexual Violence Prevention: A Community Level Approach

by April Bourlier, SVP Regional Coordinator 

The month of April is National Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Month. The CDC has found that about 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men suffer sexual violence at some point in their lives*. Even though the month of April highlights the importance of prevention and support, the reality is that every month the topic of sexual violence gender-based violence should be a community conversation to be had.

The Sexual Violence Prevention (SVP) program at Family Services focuses on the idea that even though sexual violence is a community issue, prevention can also be a community approach. Community-level prevention focuses on influencing factors at the community-level in a way that generates positive change in individuals. The framework of community-level prevention is based on the socio-ecological model, pictured below, that illustrates the complex connection between individual, relationship, community, and societal factors. Our program is designed to work with individuals, community organizations, businesses, schools, stakeholders and policy makers to address harmful social norms, unacceptable behaviors and promote safe spaces within Middle Schools, High Schools, and Nightlife Environments across our Hudson Valley to prevent sexual violence. This focus on community-level is important because it creates broad, meaningful change to sustain prevention efforts over time.
In the coming months, the SVP program is excited to partner with community organizations, bar staff, patrons as well as stakeholders to bring about community change. The SVP staff will be outreaching and conducting Safer Bars trainings with local nightlife establishments, leading focus groups and forming coalitions to gather information from the community, continue our prevention programming in Middle and High School, as well as promote our program success through social media and our regional marketing campaign. Since launching last November, our campaign continues to educate and promote our program and mission with over 300k impressions, and an average engagement increase of 20% monthly.
If you would like to get involved or learn more, please check out our Safer Hudson Valley landing page here
* Source: The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2010-2012 State Report.

A Look Back

Report to the Community

On February 24th Family Services hosted our annual Report to the Community Event. Although the event was once again virtual, it provided a wonderful opportunity to share with our friends and supporters, all that was accomplished in 2021 and the strides made across our programs. We featured special messages from our friends at Nuvance Health and Mass Design Group and shared the exiting future of the Family Partnership Center. We look forward to a bright 2022 and all the good things to come in our community – Thank you for your partnership!

To view the recording of Report to the Community, please click here for the video on You Tube.
Want to learn more about all we accomplished together in 2021? 


Thank you to our friends at Ulster Savings Bank who made a generous donation of $10,000 to our Teen Resource Activity Center! We are thrilled to use their generous support to serve middle and high school youth in Poughkeepsie.
Our Teen Resource Activity Center (also known as TRAC) offers teens in caring mentorship and a sense of belonging in a safe place where they develop athletic, creative, academic, and workforce skills. TRAC is open at the Family Partnership Center everyday after school for middle and high school students.

Upcoming Event

If you are a survivor looking for an outlet to express yourself, we would love for you to be part of the Visions of Hope and Healing event. Your art may remain anonymous if you chose, simply state that with your submission.
We look forward to being together, supporting survivors, and working towards healing as we view the powerful work of so many wonderful artists. The final details regarding the event will be available soon!
The Poughkeepsie Library District’s Sadie Peterson Delaney African Roots Library will open its doors in a beautifully renovated space on the 2nd floor the Family Partnership Center during National Library week in April! We are thrilled to welcome the Library as our new FPC partner and look forward to the many programs and resources they will offer our community and clients.

Join Our Family Tree

By joining our Family Tree, you are supporting our vision of stronger, safer communities where our neighbors have access to critical resources when they need it most.

Support Family Services when you shop online

By choosing Family Services as your charity of choice through AMAZON SMILE, Amazon will donate .5% of all qualified purchases to Family Services.

Family Services’ 2022 Leadership Partners

Find Us On Social Media

January/February 2022 Newsletter


A Note from Our CEO

Back and Forth

by Brian Doyle


A relentless pandemic; Unprecedented staffing difficulties; Increases in violence that impacts youth, families and community; A farewell and best wishes to a number of longstanding Family Services staff, perhaps most notably, the talents of Robin Peritz and Joan Crawford – These were a few of the unanticipated developments we saw in 2021.

And yet in the face of these and others the work of this agency has flourished – In Behavioral Health, Victim Services, Youth Programs, SNUG, Family Programs, Prevention efforts, and the Family Partnership Center!

In Behavioral Health, all of our Centers received three year license renewals from the Office of Mental Health. We have implemented further quality initiatives that have already proven, through stronger policy development, training and monitoring, to have resulted in even greater levels of quality client care and treatment.

As an overall agency, owing to careful spending controls and aggressive revenue enhancement efforts, we are finishing 2021 with a better-than-budgeted projected surplus, thus allowing us to strengthen our “rainy day” fund reserves. Our Development Team has held remarkably successful events such as Family of the Year, Walk A Mile in Her Shoes and Festival of Trees. All of these, thanks to YOU, helped us to exceed 2021 fundraising goals.

At the Family Partnership Center, we have replaced the building’s worn out roof, and got started on other improvements such as the Façade / Entryway Renewal. Already, we have received considerable support from the State, County and City, not to mention the generous pledges from private donors, board members, businesses, and local foundations, most notably a $2M grant awarded by the Dyson Family and Foundation!

In our Community Programs we undertook program by program Sustainability Assessments that were key to understanding and meeting the forces that impeded our efforts and as a result, we restructured some of our programs such as SNUG, Youth Services and our Family Programs to ensure their long term sustainability.

Following a rigorous search and interview process, Leah Feldman has taken on the formidable role of Chief Program Officer, all pointing toward more great things as we move into 2022.

These are just a few of the achievements of Family Services in 2021. Of course there are more- too many to be mentioned in this summary. As we look back, though, it is difficult to comprehend all that has been accomplished. And yet, through all of the efforts of the Family Services’ dedicated employees, our one-in-a-million Board of Directors and all of you supporters, Family Services has, once again, done mighty work.

2022 promises much more ahead!

In Behavioral Health, we will place a continued and growing emphasis on quality and client – centered treatment as a principal outcome. We will do this through an ambitious staff recruitment campaign while also focusing on staff Retention and a healthy fiscal position. These are not the ultimate objectives. We commit to lowering caseloads and providing treatment sessions whose frequency and duration are determined by the needs of that client.

We are excited about the relocation of our Poughkeepsie Behavioral Health Center to 20 Manchester Rd. This move enables us to develop a modern facility that incorporates a trauma responsive environment into what will include our partners in integrated care: An on-site presence of Sun River Health and Genoa Pharmacy, as well as other providers! We will also open our relocated Highland Behavioral Health Center, offering a state-of-the-art space where our clients and staff, alike will find a welcoming and highly functional setting.

We look forward to the completion of the Family Partnership Center Front Entryway. This is a long-awaited project that will fortify the entry way structure, greatly improve accessibility, and furnish a welcoming entrance that reflects the dignity of the surrounding community. Further improvements to the FPC this year will include the completion of brick pointing / façade restoration and the replacement of the rotting auditorium windows.

All the while, though, we will continue the important work of our services throughout the agency: Preserving and strengthening families through our Family Education Program; Supporting victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and other crimes; Ratcheting up our efforts to prevent sexual violence and domestic abuse, in the first place; Facing up to gun violence in our streets and keeping our young people safe through the efforts of SNUG and TRAC; Our work in saving our community from the epidemic of substance use disorders through the in-school efforts of our Ulster Prevention Council.

We enter the new year with our continuing commitment to our Mission and, also, a determined hope that we can finally see the retreat of those ills that plague the world today, to be replaced by good health and greater unity of purpose.

Happy New Year! 

Keeping Youth safe from Cyber Stalking and Abuse 

National Stalking Awareness Month/National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month

by Leah Feldman, Chief Program Officer

Recently I read a troubling article in The Wall Street Journal about a new cyberbullying tactic through a social media app called “Spilling the Tea”. These “tea” accounts are used in various ways by youth to spread rumors about their peers and to post photos of others without their consent resulting in physical fights breaking out in schools, youth feeling a sense of social rejection, and in some cases leading youth to self-harm. Parents and school administrators are at a loss on how to control and monitor these anonymous accounts as they pop up as quickly as they can take them down. 

Given that January is National Stalking Awareness Month and February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month, this article reminded me of the importance of recognizing the role that technology plays in the lives of youth and how it can impact their privacy and safety.

Technology is a powerful tool that can be used by teens in positive ways. For many, social media is used as a form of self-expression, it can be used as a platform to raise awareness, and it is increasingly used to create access to education. Through social media youth can enhance connections to those with similar identities or interests and develop support systems which can boost self-esteem through validation and acceptance.

Unfortunately, all too often we see technology used by youth to harm. Harassment and stalking through technology are common tactics of abuse in teen dating violence situations. Technology can be misused to stalk, send harassing messages, harm reputations, isolate, or coerce another person for intimate images. These tactics are rooted in patterns of power and control which define unhealthy and abusive relationships.

Signs that a teen may be a victim of technology abuse vary but may include being emotionally upset during or after using social media, being secretive of their digital life, isolating themselves, avoiding school, changes in mood, behavior, or sleep, and being nervous when getting a message or text.

As a parent or guardian, what can you do if you suspect that your child is a victim of technology stalking or abuse?
-Offer comfort and support and let your child know that it’s not their fault.
-Keep records including screen shots of the threatening messages, pictures, and texts.

-Get help. Our Center for Victim Safety and Support can provide you and your child with support in developing a safety plan, exploring your options for reporting the abuse, advocacy with the school and/or police, and emotional support to process the impact of the abuse.

For more information or to access support call our 24 hour Domestic Violence hotline at 845-485-5550.

Program Spotlights

Youth Services

  by Keith Hudes, Director of Community Initiatives 

We have had some exciting enhancements to our Teen Resource Activity Center (TRAC) program over the last several months. One of the ways we enhanced our programming was by cultivating partnerships among local restaurant vendors and community leaders to arrange for daily meal donations of restaurant grade dinners for the youth we serve. The new food plan went over very favorably with our TRAC youth and word of mouth spread quickly among their peers regarding our freshly renovated space, enhanced meal offerings, and other support services and programming that TRAC is now implementing. For example, through our recent SNUG/TRAC programming alignment, staff were trained in Hip Hop Therapy and are able to integrate this unique approach into the work we do with youth in our Music Studio. These fun new program enhancements are increasing our reach! Over the last few months, TRAC youth have started bringing friends who have never been part of our program, which has widened our reach to support youth within the community.

TRAC continues to offer ongoing programming for youth related to gun/gang violence prevention, life skills, financial literacy, job readiness, and more! We also recently signed an MOU with the Poughkeepsie City School District to have our Youth Outreach staff in the Middle School and High School for part of the days to provide services and support for youth directly in the schools. Safe Passage from the City of Poughkeepsie Middle & High Schools is offered immediately following dismissal where our team assists youth with getting from school to TRAC in the Family Partnership Center safely each day.

Highland Behavioral Health Center 

by Evie Closi, Behavioral Health Center Director

We are beyond excited to announce the opening of the new Highland Behavioral Health Center! It replaces Ulster County’s New Paltz Clinic, and is a breath of fresh air for both our clients and our center staff. With the beautiful new Trauma Informed space comes optimism and renewed opportunity for planning services and groups for our clients.  This new space creates an environment that promotes a sense of calm, dignity, healing, empowerment, and safety. We are so pleased to be able to provide this for our community.

The Behavioral Health Center of Highland will continue to provide comprehensive and integrated clinical services to adult members of the community, while also providing them with a safe, bright new building to find hope in recovery without stigma. Individual and group therapy is provided by licensed therapists and counselors who are highly trained in a variety of person-centered and evidence-based approaches. The team also includes experienced Psychiatrists, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners, and Registered Nurses to assist people with medical and medication needs.

We are thankful for the very hard work from all components of our team (leadership, directors, operations, office staff, clinicians) to make this achievement possible.

Here’s to a new beginning in Highland!

A Look Back

Festival of Trees

On December 10th and 11th Family Services hosted our First Annual Festival of Trees and could not be more thrilled with the turn out. With so many amazing vendors, sponsors, live music, trees and wreaths, it was impossible not to get into the Holiday Spirit!

Attendees shopped for holiday gifts, bid on their favorite tree and wreath, listened to live holiday music and voted for their favorite trees! We are so pleased to announce that the event raised nearly $20,000, all of which goes to support our vision of stronger and safer communities, which made for a wonderful end to 2021! We can’t wait to plan a bigger event for 2022, with even more family fun!

Most Creative Tree Winner! “Grinch-mas” by Aspire Financial
Most Holiday Spirit Winner! “Wings of Hope” by the Children’s Home of Poughkeepsie

Upcoming Event

Join us on Thursday, February 24th at 12:00pm for our annual Report to the Community as we highlight our successes during a challenging year and talk about our plans for 2022. We are especially excited to share the inspiring future of the Family Partnership Center with you!  This year’s luncheon will once again be a virtual event and we invite you to grab your lunch and join us online!
Tickets to Report to the Community are FREE, but donations are welcome to support Family Services’ vision of stronger, safer communities where everyone has the opportunity to lead their best lives. Register below and in the days prior to the virtual event, you will receive a ZOOM link via email.  We look forward to seeing you online!

Get your ticket here!

Join Our Family Tree

By joining our Family Tree, you are supporting our vision of stronger, safer communities where our neighbors have access to critical resources when they need it most.

Support Family Services when you shop online

By choosing Family Services as your charity of choice through AMAZON SMILE, Amazon will donate .5% of all qualified purchases to Family Services.

Family Services’ 2022 Leadership Partners

Find Us On Social Media