Family of Woodstock, Inc. started as a result of the impact on the Town of Woodstock, N.Y. from the fabled 1969 rock festival that happened 115 miles away in Bethel, which bore the Woodstock name. After the event, the town was inundated with young people looking for Bob Dylan and the “Woodstock Nation.” At the time, townspeople started taking young people into their homes, for lack of other resources. At a meeting called to address the issue, a local resident offered up her phone number for any problem that occurred in the town and when she went out, she would calla friend to answer the phone. From those very rudimentary beginnings, Family of Woodstock began and has run the oldest continuously operating emergency switchboard in the country, answering the original line and 11 others 24 hours a day, every day, for 47 years.
In 1974, we were informed that it was illegal for us to be taking adolescents into our homes. We wrote a proposal to create a homeless youth shelter and were funded under the first round of federal RHYA money in 1976. Family House, a 14-bed runaway and homeless youth facility, has served all of Ulster County ever since. After a number of locations, we moved into the County’s center, Rosendale, to enable the program to facilitate youth returning to their home school districts, if they so chose. In 1991, the agency was successful in opening a transitional living program, MidWay, in Kingston, which initially served 6 adolescents and up to 3 infants. A second facility serving another six adolescents and three infants was opened in Ellenville in 1997.
Our Basic Center and Transitional Living Programs have formed the foundation of Family’s response to youth homelessness. After addressing the basic needs for shelter and food, the agency has expanded its programming to provide specialized services targeting specific problems young people face, including substance abuse, mental health, criminal justice, and educational and vocational needs. The bulk of the youth have been able to return home, often with the assistance of mediation services provided by program staff. For youth who do not have a stable home to return to, the agency’s transitional living program and programs that provide permanent housing with supports for youth with significant disabilities have been effective in providing stable living.
Our mission statement describes the values which direct all of the agency’s programming. We recognize that it is critical to show respect and not burden individuals with our own judgements if they are to effectively seek help from our agency.
Family of Woodstock, Inc. is a network of individuals, paid and volunteer, whose mission is to provide confidential and fully accessible crisis intervention, information, prevention, care coordination, and support services to address the needs of individuals and families and to build a supportive and healthy community.
We believe that the common ground which unites us, both helper and helped, is greater than the differences which divide us, and that everyone deserves the respect and support of our larger community. We seek to embody and model the qualities of caring and respect within our organization and with those whom we serve. We maintain an attitude which is non-judgmental and non-directive, so that all individuals are encouraged to resolve problems in a way that honors their own cultural, religious, socio-economic and value systems. We endeavor to empower each person to find their own solutions to the challenges before them. In this work, we are committed to search all avenues for assistance, creatively combining resources, as needed. In addition to assisting individuals and families, we continually seek to improve the quality of life in our community by addressing gaps in services and by advocating for more comprehensive, effective, culturally appropriate and humane responses to people’s needs.
The scope of the Agency’s vision allows us to bring to bear resources to address a broad spectrum of human problems.
In addition to adolescent services, the agency has developed an extensive array of services targeted to the whole community. Rather than specializing in one area of service, such as adolescent sheltering, and perhaps sponsoring that area regionally, the agency has tried to develop comprehensive services, which address all residents’ needs throughout Ulster County.
The goal of Family’s programs is to assist people to achieve self-sufficiency and self-respect.