A Note from Our CEO
Upended, Still Resolute
by Brian Doyle
Upended is how it often feels like these days! There are countless ways that the Coronavirus has had continuing and extraordinary consequences for all of us and yet we move forward.
As a nation, we have suffered more than 750,000 deaths. Worldwide the number of people who have died is nearly 5,000,000. Incredible. Some have endured severe illness and for those who have “recovered” there have been lingering long term effects for which there is little explanation or estimated duration.
The disruption to personal lives has been enormous as we have seen increases in isolation, depression, anxiety, all of which have taken a yet to be measured toll. Our children have experienced loss of learning and social development that by all estimates may never be fully recovered. The world economy has been battered, supply chains disrupted, prices soaring. Businesses have been suspended, closed, or otherwise impacted by safety needs with workers losing their jobs and now, employers unable to recruit the personnel they need.
Like other organizations and businesses, Family Services has not been immune to this volatility. We have seen significant increases in turnover and greater difficulties in attracting candidates for some of our positions. This has put a strain on those employees who are taking on additional workload owing to vacancies. It has caused financial strains as we try to keep up with salary demands “in the market”.
While we struggle with these issues of turnover and vacancies, I have been particularly inspired and heartened by the efforts of our employees up and down the line, throughout the organization. Agency Leadership Team Members are tracking and responding to these challenges, with a sharp eye on such vital issues as sustaining quality services, upholding employee morale, and navigating enormous fiscal hurdles.
While there are never “perfect answers”, in the face of ambiguity, the Leadership Team has displayed tremendous creativity and unshakeable commitment to our Mission all in a climate of daunting uncertainty. I know Family Services is not alone as we face these hardships, but I cannot imagine another agency or business that is fortunate enough to have a more committed and fearless team of leaders. Click here to meet the Leadership Team of Family Services!
This Thanksgiving, I am thankful to them all.
Giving Thanks, Showing Appreciation, Retaining Staff During the Great Resignation
by Chris Pels, Vice President for HR, Risk Management, and Organizational Development
You’ve likely heard the terms “the great resignation” or “the big quit” to describe the incredible staffing challenges that we face across the nation. In the HR field, we have certainly been looking at the many creative ways we can recruit new staff to join our organizations – however equally salient has been the importance of focusing on staff retention. Below I wanted to share some of the ideas circulating in the HR space and my own thoughts on how we can retain staff during this trying time.
First – an easy one: Acknowledge the good work being done! I saw an article from Harvard Business Review that said that employees need 6 positive pieces of feedback from every one negative bit of feedback. It’s worth all of us thinking about what our ratio is of positive to negative feedback with the staff that work with us on a daily basis. A little positive feedback often goes a long way towards staff morale and belonging.
Second, ensure managers have the right training and philosophy on work. It’s been said 1000 times before but the most oft-cited reason that staff tend to leave an employer is their boss. Ensuring managers have training on policy and procedure and that managers are clear about the organization’s and their own philosophies around leadership goes a long way towards keeping staff from looking elsewhere.
Third, focus on wellness. Staff need to know that we care and need to know that we understand that there is nothing normal about the time we have living in right now. It’s important we emphasize that staff take time off as they need, they focus on their mental and physical health, and that staff find some way to turn as much of the chaos and stress related to work off at the end of a long day.
Lastly, connect values and mission to each person’s work. I’ve seen some argue that we’re not seeing so much the great resignation as much as the great realignment. Across the country, we have reflected deeply on our lives and asked important questions about how we want to spend our time. Every employer has a new found opportunity to draw a connection between their organizational values and mission and the values and missions of the staff who work there. We have a particularly strong case around values and mission in the non-profit space as the work and the people we serve are a particularly strong force for those who go in mission-driven organizations.
I have the privilege of meeting with a lot of prospective employees and a question I often get asked is – how would you describe the culture at Family Services? I usually answer this question in the following way – I start by saying that almost every new employee stops me at some point to say just how nice everyone is that works at Family Services. I usually follow this with the observation I’ve made over the last 8 years that the glue that holds all the diverse employees of Family Services together is a strong connection to our Agency’s mission. I can say at Family Services we’re truly blessed with staff who care so much about our mission that instead of having to worry about staff staying until 5:00 we usually have to focus on how to get them out the door as many would just keep working late into the evening. It has been said that if you find a job you love you’ll never work a day in your day – I think this sentiment is certainly reflective of nearly all of the dedicated staff at Family Services. That is certainly something to be grateful for and something to reflect on during this challenging time. Hopefully, some of the ideas above can drive us towards a brighter future at work in the year to come.
SUNG and TRAC: Working Together for City of Poughkeepsie Youth
by Debra Long, SNUG Program Coordinator, and Keith Hudes, Director of Community Initiatives
We are very excited to share that as of Summer 2021, we have strengthened our work to support youth in the City of Poughkeepsie by further aligning SNUG, our Gun Violence Prevention and Street Outreach program, with Youth Services programming at the Teen Resource Activity Center (TRAC).
This TRAC program enhancement provides additional targeted interventions for high-risk middle and high schoolers. While our primary goal is to keep youth safe, we also aim to increase awareness of how cultural norms can lead to violence, giving youth the knowledge and skills to make changes in their lives that will make our communities safer and healthier for all.
We are partnering with the Poughkeepsie City School District to work with the Middle School and High School to support youth in school and in the evenings after school. We have established a team of Youth Outreach Workers who will work with youth during the day, provide Safe Passage following dismissal from school, and continue providing services in the evenings at TRAC. Through this alignment with SNUG, youth will benefit from increased adult mentoring, art therapy, music therapy, gun and gang violence prevention workshops, help with their homework, healthy socialization, a hot and nutritious meal each night, learn life skills, and engage in other exciting programming and event opportunities.
As part of this alignment, we moved our teen center to another area inside of the Family Partnership Center that is more conducive for delivering trauma-informed services. Our new TRAC space features high ceilings, natural light, inviting colors, improved internet access, and availability, and more!
Community Fun at the Family Partnership Center
by Tanysha Casellas, Family Partnership Center Steward
Greetings Family Services & Partners – My name is Tanysha A. Casellas and I am your FPC Steward. I would like to thank everyone for the warm welcome I have received having joined Family Services in September 2021. Since I began as FPC Steward, I have been able to meet and collaborate with multiple partners both internal and external and explore ideas and opportunities to enhance our abilities to serve the community.
We were thrilled with the success of recent events and look forward to bringing our community even more events in the months to come. In October, the FPC hosted a sports ministry event organized by Street Katz and Revolving Door Inc. and we closed out the month with our annual Halloween event for children and families in the City of Poughkeepsie. We look forward to November’s Family Partnership Center Community Resource Fair, where partners inside and outside of the FPC will have the opportunity to reintroduce ourselves to one another and the community. And we are excited for our FPC Holiday Giveaway in December when we will partner with the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Department in remembrance of the late Sheriff Adrian “Butch” Anderson.
Want to learn more about resources available in the Family Partnership Center? Check out the FPC’s new digital resource for partners and clients.
Thank You to Our Facilities and Security Team!
A Look Back
Walk a Mile to End Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence
On October 23rd, we hosted our 11th Annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event at the Poughkeepsie Galleria. THANK YOU to the nearly 200 people who came out to help spread awareness. The mall was filled with incredible energy and enthusiasm as we came together to stand against sexual assault and domestic violence in our community.
With the help of walkers, donors, and sponsors, we raised $69,698 to support the programs of Family Services that empower victims, educate youth, and prevent future violence.
Trauma-Informed Sexual Assualt and Domestic Violence Investigations Training
In October, Family Services organized a training for Dutchess County Law Enforcement officers thanks to funding from Dutchess County. The “Trauma-Informed Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Investigations” training was presented by retired Chief of Police, Thomas Tremblay from Burlington, VT. Chief Tremblay is a national and international advisor and trainer for police, prosecutors, advocates, higher education, the military, and government. Throughout his distinguished thirty-year policing career, Tom Tremblay has been a passionate leader for the prevention of domestic and sexual violence – passion in which he imparted to our partners in the community.
Family Services offered two, 2-day training sessions in which officers from the Town of Poughkeepsie, City of Poughkeepsie, the City of Beacon, Village of Wappinger, East Fishkill, Hyde Park, New York State Police, MTA Police, the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office, and advocates from the Center of Victim Safety and Support attended. Bosch, the District Attorney’s courthouse dog also attended both sessions offering his calming presence for the attendees. Thank you to the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office for hosting in their training room.
Halloween at the FPC
You are invited to Family Services’ newest event, Festival of Trees
Friday, December 10th, 4:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Saturday, December 11th, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
at the Poughkeepsie Tennis Club
Shop local artisans and enjoy holiday music and raffle prizes! And don’t forget to vote for your favorite tree….and maybe even take it home! Click below to get your ticket or learn how you can submit a tree or wreath for the Festival of Trees!
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.
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Family Services’ 2021 Leadership Partner