Careers & Internships | Compliance

December 2019/January 2020 Newsletter


Brian Doyle

It has been an exhilarating 2019 for all of us at Family Services.  The long-awaited merger of Family Services and Hudson Valley Mental Health was finalized in April.  And while that was the date of the formal merger, leading up to that milestone and in the days since then, we as a now consolidated agency have been working diligently on having “all of the pieces fit together”.

I have been inspired by the many ways in which all staff from the Leadership Team on out to the “front lines” have undertaken this work to make sure that all of us are working in a coordinated manner to provide the best services possible to the many individuals who rely on us.

And, while this merger has been an important undertaking, I am reminded of what, I believe, is closer to what inspires us in this work every day.

I was recently reading about thoughts shared by German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer—“Giving is the primary relationship between one person and another, not the secondary one. It is family member to family member, friend to friend, colleague to colleague. People to community. It is the elemental desire to transform isolation and self-centeredness into connectiveness and caring. A personality awakens itself by how it gives.”

As I reflect on those thoughts, I immediately think of the many employees who are making connections to the people that we serve in the various corners of the community—People we serve through our Behavioral Health Centers, Youth Services, Family Programs, Victim Services, Prevention efforts, Community Safety and in the Family Partnership Center. They benefit from the sheer human kindness and caring offered by our staff.

I’m reminded of what I once heard that for all the good that is done by “programs”, “departments”, “funding” and all the rest in our world of work, what improves people’s lives most are the relationships. The relationship that is created when somebody experiences caring that is extended by another and faith that is shared, there is hope created within that relationship—hope that there can be a better life.

And, of course, we cannot do this work without supporters like you— supporters who embody Bonhoeffer’s sentiments: “Giving is the primary relationship between one person and another…people to community.”

At its core, this is the spirit of Family Services and I thank all of our employees and supporters for joining us in this important journey. Have a Blessed Holiday!

By the Numbers


Thanks to the generosity of the Holiday Helping Hand Program, a partnership of United Way of the Orange-Dutchess Region and the Poughkeepsie Journal, Family Services was able to provide:
9 families served by Family Services
Center for Victim Safety and Support
received utility assistance
9 families served by Family Services
Children’s Center at Dutchess County Family Court
received gift cards to local retailers
9 teens in Family Services
Teen Resource Activity Center
received gift cards to local retailers

Mission: Past, Present, and Future
Christopher R. Pels
Vice President for HR, Risk Management,and Organizational Development

In six years at Family Services I’ve spoken with hundreds, perhaps thousands, of individuals who are interested in coming to work with us. Our staff come from a wide range of backgrounds but a common thread that hold us all together is a passion for the mission of Family Services. Oh and by the way that passion is INFECTIOUS!

When I speak with individuals about Family Services I make sure to share two essential bits of information in understanding who we are and what we do. First, I remind individuals that Family Services has been doing this work for a very long time—in fact as we were founded in 1879 we’ve been doing this work for 140 years! Second, I’ve committed to memory our mission and tagline—both our current mission as well as our historical mission. The words of our founder, Reverend A. Edward Lawrence, Jr., have always resonated strongly with me—that our work is about the need to “raise the needy above the need of relief”. I make a point of highlighting that although the term “needy” is antiquated the idea of helping individuals help themselves has always been a core part of our work.

Up until very recently I could, by memory, recite our recently retired tagline: providing hope, improving lives, and strengthening communities. I would use this tagline to describe the work of our programs—programs that serve over 17,000 individuals a year! However, very recently I’ve had a chance to try on our brand new mission statement: Family Services brings people together to find the support they need, improving their lives and communities, and building a stronger, safer Hudson Valley. I have to confess it will take a few more weeks to commit this new mission to memory; however I can tell you having repeated it numerous times to prospective applicants this mission statement is completely and totally in line with the work we’ve been doing for over a century! This mission also speaks to why I, and I sense all of my colleagues, spend so many of our waking hours doing this work.

I was recently asked by an applicant what I like about working at Family Services and my answer was as clear and infectious in that conversation as it has been for the last 6 years. I want to wake up every day and support staff who are doing work that is live saving and live enhancing. This is exactly what our staff do at Family Services so it is remarkably easy to get out of bed in the morning and give it my all (even on the those mornings when my toddler is having her terrible two moments!) Staff at Family Services have been giving their all to our community throughout our 140 year history and as we embark on a new chapter in our history with a new mission, vision, and brand I look forward to 140 more years of building a stronger, safer, Hudson Valley!

The Holidays and Behavioral Health
Andrew Martin, LCSW-R
Director, Ulster County Behavioral Health Centers

The holidays can be a special and joyful time for many of us. A time filled with happy reconnections with family and friends. It is a busy time and a time of giving.

For some, the holidays are anything but what they are portrayed to be on television and in the movies. There may be no singing, no family meals, no joyous children tearing open gifts. For some, the holidays may be filled with uncertainty, fear, and loss. The holidays can often be a time when people feel disconnected or lonely. Perhaps for some, the holidays have not always been a positive experience.

In behavioral health, we have an added duty to be aware that while we may decorate our offices because we associate the holidays with joy, not everyone shares that experience. While some clients had wonderful holidays as children, they may have had difficult experiences as adults. Perhaps there is struggle to meet expectations that others may place on gift giving or struggles with feelings that they can’t give enough. Feeling disconnected during the holidays can happen for any number of reasons.

It is important at this time of year to be mindful of others’ needs and it is also a time to remember to self-care. Take time for yourself. Reach out to friends or family for support. If you need to, seek support from service providers or find resources in the community when family and friends cannot be the support you need or want.

At Family Services, we celebrate the holidays and we acknowledge that for some, there is no celebration so we offer a safe place to converse and share experiences. We respect your right to not celebrate. We welcome your experience and take you as you are at any time of the year.

Family Services can help you or a loved one meet behavioral health needs. We have centers throughout Dutchess County in Beacon, Dover Plains, Millbrook, Poughkeepsie and Rhinebeck. In Ulster County, you can receive services in Ellenville, Kingston and New Paltz. For appointments in Dutchess County, call 845-485-9700, and for appointments in Ulster County, call 845-486-2703 ext. 4016.

Family Services partners with organizations to offer immediate support to clients 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you or someone you know is in immediate danger of self-harm, call 911. In Dutchess County, call the Helpline at 845-485-9700. In Ulster County, contact Family of Woodstock at 845-338-2370. In Orange County, contact Access Support for Living at 1-888-750-2266.

Wherever you are this holiday season, know that we wish you well and are here to help if you need us.

Program Spotlights

Children’s Center at Family Court

It has been an exciting year at the Patricia A Kennedy Children’s Center at Dutchess County Family Court! The Center is proud to be an Autism Supportive Environment, offering a host of helpful activities for children and families in a safe and appropriate environment. Program staff are grateful to partners at the Anderson Center who offered this important training and certification.

The program has hosted wonderful interns from Marist, Vassar and Dutchess Community Colleges. Students, under the guidance of Lead Teacher Randi Chalfin, created program curriculum highlighting the Arts, Sand Play, Compassion and Psychological Literacy for children ages newborn to 12 years old.

In November, the program was proud to host an open house and luncheon in recognition of the United Way of Dutchess Orange Region.  Program staff presented United Way a plague to acknowledge their constant support in helping the Center meet critical needs of the children and families served.

Everyday the staff of the Children’s Center find joy, happiness and beauty in the tenacity of the families we serve. The Children’s Center looks forward to 2020 when we will attend the NYAEYC (New York Association for the Education of Young Children) annual conference in the Spring. Staff continues to envision a larger center, with more space for children to play and where we can serve more families on a daily basis.

Share a vision with us—one of stronger, safer communities where everyone has the opportunity to lead their best lives.

Where communities are without limits and overflow with hope and opportunity.

If you believe in this vision as much as we do, help us achieve it.

CLICK HERE to donate today!


A Look Back

On Monday, December 9th Family Services staff gathered from 13 different locations across Dutchess, Ulster, and Orange Counties at The Grandview in Poughkeepsie to share some holiday cheer and mingle with colleagues we don’t often see.

Good food, dancing and sharing stories with individuals whose passion for the work they do is inspiring and sets the tone for a truly grateful heart this holiday season.

On Wednesday, December 11th Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress and Hudson Valley Network for Young Professionals hosted Basecamp Kingston, an event that is part of their Greater Hudson Valley Young Professional Summit series.

The event featured a panel discussion on “Leading from Where You Are” that included our Vice President for Community Programs, Leah Feldman, and other extraordinary leaders in our community.

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Thursday, February 6, 2020



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