Client Stories

Home and Community Based Services Help Young People Get Ahead

shutterstock_343884347.jpgThe mission of the HCBS program is to provide home and community-based services to children between 5 and 21 years of age who face the likelihood of residential placement or hospitalization due to a serious emotional disturbance (SED). Our objective is to coordinate an individually tailored plan of care which is designed to meet the needs of the child and his/her family by using their strengths and building a supportive home and community-based environment. Below is a brief story from a recent client and his worker who collaboratively navigated through many of his presenting concerns.

Ari had started attending FCA's HCBS program presenting with suicidal ideation, extreme mood swings, poor focus, impulsiveness issues, and was smoking marijuana. Working with his case manager who developed a plan for Ari and his family, along with support from outside providers, he made progress in many of these areas. Ari stopped smoking marijuana and vows to remain abstinent. This was his personal focus that he had been working towards and achieved while engaged in services. Working with his psychiatrist, he also found an effective balance of medications, which has helped him drastically reduce his mood swings, impulsiveness and improve his focus. Ari has not reported any suicidal ideation and has not been hospitalized since enrolling in HCBS. He graduated high school, which his family was ecstatic about. He currently attends college, which his family reported they never thought he would be able to do. Even with all that has been gained, Ari continues to work with his providers to improve himself each and every day.

At FCA we respect all who come to us for help – and many are working toward a fresh start in life. So while their stories are true, client names and images may have been changed to protect their privacy. FCA thanks you for understanding.

An Added Support System

alz-heimers-for-enews.jpgCristina is an undocumented Hispanic woman who has been taking care of her 9 year old son who has autism and her mother who has Alzheimer’s Disease.  When we first met Cristina in early July, she had never reached out for any assistance before for fear that she would be deported or arrested.  She does not speak English and our Care Coach has been continually reaching out to her for support and to help her through this process. Cristina is deteriorating from the burden of care and does not get any sleep because her mom and son are up all night.  Her mother’s somewhat aggressive behavior often sparks her son to then become agitated.  Cristina has been worn down overtime and is so weak from the burden of care, she was recently hospitalized overnight from stress.  Cristina is asking for counseling assistance, home-care, respite and medical care.  As we know that time is of the essence with her situation, we have already set her up with a bilingual case manager and will be putting home-care in place for her.  We are also assisting the client with getting healthcare so that she can be properly cared for and regain the ability to sleep at night.  We are referring Cristina to our children’s programs for assistance with her son and a counselor will be provided so she can benefit from a strong support system as she moves forward.

Learn more about FCA's Alzheimer's Caregiver program.

At FCA we respect all who come to us for help – and many are working toward a fresh start in life. So while their stories are true, client names and images may have been changed to protect their privacy. We thank you for understanding.

Project Independence Youth Grow and Soar

Melody, a youth in our Project Independence (PI) Nassau program, was named Student of the Month at New York Institute of Beauty! She was interviewed for a story on the school’s website, discussing her desire to be a role model for her sister, the time she walked to school during a blizzard, and her experiences growing up in a group home. She gave a special shout-out to her Project Independence counselor for advising her about the financial aid that paved the way to her aesthetician training.

Another PI youth, who was discharged from foster care, successfully obtained stable housing. PI staff transported the youth from a shelter to Job Corp, and then to DSS, helping the youth secure temporary housing. With staff’s assistance, the youth is actively seeking education and job resources to forge a positive path ahead.

Events Round-Up

Project Independence Nassau continues to hold weekly workshops for Long Island youth at The Learning Center, enabling young people to gain essential skills and information. Recent workshops covered a variety of topics, such as Managing Personal Finances (presented by National Finance Network). Eight youth attended the workshop, learning about the importance of saving money and how to avoid debt.

Renowned author Darryl Davis led a lively workshop on The Power of Smiling, teaching youngsters about the positive effects of smiling and how it impacts people’s emotions and every day state of mind. Participants were able to share personal challenges they have encountered in a safe and positive setting.

Denise Ambroise presented a workshop about recognizing 10 Signs of Relationship Abuse, attended by six PI youth. Ms. Ambroise advised accessing help when emotional, physical or mental abuse occurs in a relationship, stressing that one’s mind and body always belongs to oneself. Youth watched an eye-opening video depicting real stories of abuse experienced by teenagers.

Project Independence Suffolk also held a variety of events, including a Planned Parenthood workshop where six youth learned about sex education, practicing protection, and how to distinguish between common myths and facts. Money management was another featured workshop topic this past month, providing youth with the opportunity to open an account in a local bank. They also learned how to deposit money, write a check, and manage their accounts to avoid overdraft fees. Others visited a nearby mall, where they were taught how to use coupons and to take advantage of retail sales.

Five PI youth visited Stony Brook Medical School, where they toured the facilities with current medical students. The aspiring physicians spoke about the challenging requirements of medical school and how each person overcame obstacles to follow their dream of practicing medicine. During a recent Study Skills workshop, ten youth assessed their learning style and were taught helpful study techniques.

Of course, PI workshops aren’t all work and no play. Seven youth attended a fun Movie Night: a screening of Queen of Katwe, a story about a young girl from Uganda who grew up to become an international chess champion. Afterward, attendees took part in a lively discussion about the importance of following your heart and dreams, and shared how support systems are vital to achieve one’s goals. Upcoming summer events include a trip to Manhattan, a visit to Jones Beach, and a hike in Sand’s Point.

At FCA’s Learning Center, a recent visit to SUNY Farmingdale provided five youth with the opportunity to learn about Farmingdale’s admissions process, amenities and programs. A student tour guide led youth on an informative tour of the school, where they received a first-hand look at college life!

Leading Young People On a Path to Success


Home & Community Based Services (HCBS): B.R.’s Growth and Determination Know No Boundaries

B.R., diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, became pregnant at 17 and sought a safe haven to help her transition into motherhood. She met regularly with FCA’s HCBS providers and her private therapist to identify past triggers to her mental health symptoms. As a result, she gained significant awareness about her susceptibility to Post-Partum Depression and its many symptoms. After giving birth to a healthy baby girl in March 2018, B.R. realized she was experiencing some of these symptoms and reached out to HCBS providers and medical professionals for support.

B.R. has used helpful techniques to curb many of her symptoms while maintaining her role as primary caregiver. She has also adhered to all WIC and medical appointments for her baby and continues to contact HCBS providers whenever she encounters a question about childcare. She is now planning to attend college online. For B.R., the sky is the limit!


Medicaid Care Coordination: A Young Woman with Extraordinary Talent

Congratulations to our Medicaid Care Coordination client, O.S., for being accepted into the Barry Tech Home Health Aide program! Her Care Manager supported her every step of the way, including collaborating with O.S.’ mother to help O.S. obtain an interview for the program.

O.S. aspires to become a CNA after graduation and also has a beautiful singing voice: she performed “Pretty Hurts” by Beyoncé at Art Expressions on June 22nd and at the BOCES CCA graduation. She is also an accomplished softball player at Hempstead High School and is enrolled in competitive dance. She and her mother are active members of FCA’s Family Center Nassau Respite Program, and despite experiencing many hardships (including the recent loss of her grandmother), O.S. always finds the good in life.


Non-Medicaid Care Coordination: A Hole-In-One Transformation

D.U., who came to FCA just a few months ago, attends school in Massapequa. He entered our program expressing anger and resentment toward his mother, making little effort to socialize with others. Much of his free time was spent playing video games at home until his Care Manager linked him up with golf lessons. The activity, financed with service dollars, provides a positive outlet for D.U., who has become more social and less argumentative with his mother. He’s even hoping to attend golf camp this summer!


Family Center Supports and Inspires: Past, Present, and Future 

Recently, a parent reached out to our Family Engagement Specialist Gwen Breidbart. The mother was experiencing difficulty with her son, who was discharged from HCBS a few years ago. Gwen met with the parent the very next day. With Gwen’s encouragement, the mother began attending our Parent Support Group and credits FCA’s family support services for equipping her with crucial information and advocacy skills. She was particularly moved by Gwen’s ability to remember detailed information about her son from a few years ago, exclaiming, “I can’t believe you remembered that! I even forgot about that!”

Family Center client J.R. is on track to graduate with a Regent’s Diploma in June 2019. This is a huge achievement for J.R., who had previously accumulated many absences from school. Her academic performance has improved drastically since September and she refuses to let anything interfere with obtaining her Regent’s Diploma on time. Additionally, J.R. was accepted to the Nassau Community College High School program and is currently holding a steady job. She is more motivated than ever and is a positive influence on her peers. She is excited to start the next chapter of her journey. Way to go J.R.!

THRIVE Staff Receive Praise from Program Participant

G.M., a resident of Phoenix House, recently attended THRIVE’s GYST (Get Your Sh** Together) group and is new to the program. Here is an excerpt of an email G.M. sent to staff, expressing praise and gratitude for the positivity he has encountered. Way to go, THRIVE team!

"Hey Billy, its G.M. from Phoenix House! Just wanted to reach out and say thank you very much for getting us today! Like I said, I’m on two days of sleep and I FORCED myself to go to THRIVE today. I was looking forward to it like crazy and I’m very glad I met you. On a serious note…I know I joke around a lot and try to be comical but this s**t is very serious and I really am glad I met you. I already told everyone here about you. Sometimes you just cross paths with certain people and you can tell by their glow and demeanor that they’re that special type of person that’s very rare to find these days. I just wanted to tell you you’re awesome and extremely contagious as far as happiness and positivity go! Thank you!”

At FCA we respect all who come to us for help – and many are working toward a fresh start in life. So while their stories are true, client names and images may have been changed to protect their privacy. FCA thanks you for understanding.

HER TURN Continues to Transform Lives

After being diagnosed with HIV in the early 2000’s (and later with Epilepsy), Samantha struggled with receiving appropriate HIV care while coping with frequent alcohol use and cognitive limitations. A lack of a Primary Care Physician often results in Samantha receiving her care in hospital Emergency Rooms, and she is often forgetful of the medications she is prescribed.

FCA’s HER TURN staff have successfully linked Samantha to vital resources to improve her care. They immediately connected her to Northwell Health’s Infectious Disease unit and to FCA’s Chemical Dependency Program. To ensure Samantha adheres to her medical appointments, HER TURN staff arranged for a care coordinator to assist with Samantha’s transportation and oversee medication management with Stat Specially Pharmacy. Samantha is now surrounded by a supportive team and will be receiving the essential healthcare services that she lacked before enrolling in HER TURN.

 At FCA we respect all who come to us for help – and many are working toward a fresh start in life. So while their stories are true, client names and images may have been changed to protect their privacy. FCA thanks you for understanding.

Ombudsman's Timely Assistance


A resident’s husband called FCA's Ombudsman office stating that his wife is not being properly cared for at her facility.  The husband continued to share that his wife has been at the facility for 17 months, and for the past 3 months, he has been requesting that she be seen by a specialty doctor because he’s noticed that her condition had worsened.  He went on to report that the facility had been giving him “the run around”, telling him that “the doctor is out on vacation or at the hospital”.  He was also repeatedly told that “her vitals are fine” insinuating that “she’s fine.”  The Ombudsman requested permission to call on his behalf to investigate the matter and he agreed happily to accept the assistance.

Upon the Ombudsman speaking with the Social Worker, she offered to review the resident’s medical file over the phone. At first, she indicated there’s “no medical reason to send her out.”  However, upon reading further into the medical file, the Social Worker found that a consult was ordered for the resident to see a specialist about her ailment.   The Social Worker agreed to follow up with the doctor to find out if the appointment had been scheduled and also agreed to call the husband immediately with the details.

Shortly after the phone call to the facility, the Ombudsman called the husband to follow up.  The husband informed the Ombudsman that the Social Worker had already called him with details about the appointment.  The husband started to cry stating that he’s 92 years old and takes the bus to see his wife 6 days a week and he rests on the 7th day because he’s "overwhelmed and tired.”  He thanked the Ombudsman profusely and stated that in 1 hour, the Ombudservice office resolved an issue he’d been trying to resolve over the course of the past 3 months. The Ombudsman stated that his wife was lucky to have him as an advocate and he said, “of course, why wouldn’t I help her, that’s my wife.

HIICAP Counselors Provide Seniors Relief


FCA's HIICAP program was referred a client who received an $800 bill from Medicare and notice that she will be dropped if this was not paid.  Researching her problem, we found that Social Security had made many mistakes with her account.  When she was younger, she had Medicare because of ESRD (End Stage Renal Disease).  After a transplant in 2011, she continued to have Medicare coverage for an additional 36 months after which she lost Medicare coverage and pick up Medicaid coverage.  When she turned 65 in December, 2017 this triggered problems with her Medicare.  It turned out that she was never dis-enrolled from Part B and unbeknownst to her, the state had been paying the Part B premium since 2013.  This problem required the help of the Medicare Rights Center in resolving this problem.  We were successful in enrolling our client in Medicare Part A and B plus QMB in the Medicare Savings Program and enrolling her in a Part D plan.  Thanks to the client's HIICAP counselor, the client was able to breathe a sigh of relief and was also visited by FCA's EISEP (Extended In-Home Services for the Elderly Program) to assist with communication about her medicare, being that the client is homebound.

Senior Expressing Gratitude for FCA


Ms. M is a 67 year old woman living alone in an apartment. She was in a terrible accident a few years ago. She had multiple surgeries including hip and back surgery, and was permanently disable from the accident. She became an FCA client four years ago. She suffers from multiple health issues.

Ms. M has no family members and very few informal supports. She is currently receiving 12 hours of EISEP (Extended In-Home Services for the Elderly Program) Level 2 services to assist her with her Activities of Daily Living (ADL) and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL) which help determine the level of care assistance a person needs. She has a good relationship with her aide and is very thankful for the EISEP funding to her her remain in the community. She lives in a rent stabilized apartment but does not have much money left after paying her rent. Ms. M's case manager has assisted her with entitlements and monitors the client.

Due to the nature of her injuries she struggles to transfer from chairs to an upright position and is uncomfortable sitting in most chairs unless they are propped up with pillows. Ms. M. has two surgeries coming up and was in need of a new lift chair more than ever because the one she had purchased years ago was not working properly and was beyond repair. Through the help of her EISEP case manager, Ms. M received ancillary funding from the Office for the Aging to purchase a new lift chair.

Thank you letter from Ms. M:

"Dear Sandra

Just a short note to thank FCA for arranging delivery of the life chair for my living room. I sincerely appreciate the consideration and generosity of all. This will definitely help me after the spine surgery.

Ms. M."

Ready for Prom

lakeview-samantha.pngA donation, no matter what size, has the power to change someone’s life. Prior to the donations that were given to the Lakeview Community Residence, current resident Samantha had extreme anxiety thinking about her upcoming prom. The questions were endless... "How will I pay for the ticket? How will I pay for my dress? Will I have to do my own hair and makeup? Where will I get shoes from? How will I get to prom?" Sam wasn’t sure if she would be able to afford all of the "prom necessities." With a bit of outreach, a donor came along, and another, and before Sam knew it, nothing was left for her to pay for. This means she would no longer have to dip into her college savings fund to pay for her prom. Sam has been working 16 hours a week, in addition to school, to save up for college and related expenses. Finally, Sam could take a breath. Finally, Sam could smile knowing she could attend her own prom and not have to worry about all of the expenses that go along with it. These are memories that will stay with Sam for a lifetime.

Prom truly is a milestone in many young people’s lives. It's the point between childhood and adulthood, to celebrate in a unique way that is often a once in a lifetime opportunity for kids. Prom is also a learning experience which teaches young adults how to behave in a formal setting, using good manners, acting like ladies and gentleman, and are just a few of the lessons they learn without even realizing it. Prom gives the chance for young women and men to dress up, feel confident, and dance the night away with friends by their side.

“Hi, I’m Samantha. I just wanted to thank everyone for donating the money for me to go to prom. I live in a community residence and really didn’t think I was going to be able to go to my senior prom because I just didn’t have the money. But thanks to you and the social workers at the house, I’m able to have a wonderful night with my friends before we graduate. I really can’t thank you enough for your so generous donation. Thank you so so so so much.”

Because of our generous donors, Samantha is able to go to prom at no cost to her. Everything will be covered. Hair, makeup, dress, shoes, limo, pre-prom photography. Samantha will spend the day becoming a princess until her chariot awaits her and off she will go to the prom to make memories that will last forever.


Caring for Long Island Seniors


Ms. M is an 86 year old widow who lives alone in a first floor apartment. She was very close to one of her daughters who died several years ago. She has another daughter who provides informal support. Ms. M struggles to be independent and has until recently not allowed any one to come into her home and provide her with home-care services. Ms. M’s resistance to services, originated from a bad experience she had with chore services from another agency. Ms. M’s case manager started visiting her and regularly discussed FCA chore services. With encouragement, Ms. M finally agreed to give it a try and was so pleased with her chore worker that she has gradually allowed her to do more and more things for her within the parameters of the chore program. Ms. M’s daughter is very pleased that her mother can finally get the help she so desperately needs but was resistant to accept.

FCA case managers offer comprehensive assessment and in-home services for seniors age 60 and over. We are committed to connecting seniors to available community resources they need to remain safely and independently at home. If you or a senior you know are having difficulty functioning independently at home, our case managers may be able to provide assistance.

To learn more, call: (516) 292.1300 x2223

Former FCA Client Now Giving Back to Others

Al-Sita.jpgBy Kelly Kass, Senior Writer, Marketing Works

In 1994, Al Sita was a high school senior who turned to Family & Children’s Association’s (FCA’s) Walkabout Program for guidance and support during a challenging time in his adolescence. While living at the transitional residence (then located in Bethpage, New York), Al learned a number of household and independent living skills, enabling him to gain more structure and prepare for the future.

Recalling those impactful four months, Al says, “FCA provides a stable place for young people with a difficult home life. They were the light at the end of the tunnel for many of us, and helped lay the groundwork for residents to achieve a happy, productive life.”

While residing at Walkabout, Al participated in the Steps to Success program, which gave him a sense of “greater responsibility.” He credits the support from his counselor as a major factor in his success, fueling his desire to improve his life. After completing the program, Al went on to attend SUNY Cortland (thanks to a scholarship obtained through FCA), graduating with a degree in History. He now holds a successful job with Weill Cornell Medicine, working in Information Systems alongside several IT project managers.

More than 20 years after Walkabout transformed his life, Al is now striving for the same outcomes for participants of FCA’s Friendly Visiting Program. In 2017, he enrolled as a volunteer, helping to enhance the quality of life of seniors living in Nassau County.

He initially reconnected with FCA after his father became ill at a local nursing facility, contacting Ombudservice for support. “Witnessing the work of Ombudservice volunteers made me appreciate their dedication and advocacy. It inspired me to want to make a difference for Long Island’s senior population,” Al explains.

As an FCA Friendly Visitor, Al visits the home of Joe, a 95-year-old homebound Wantagh resident, offering weekly companionship and good conversation. “When you’re 95 and can’t leave the house, it’s the little things that mean a lot,” Al says. He’ll often find Joe waiting at the door for him to arrive. Their lively visits are usually comprised of several games of Gin Rummy. Joe loves the interaction and never hesitates to play another hand. “He’s very competitive,” Al says. “He even offers to let me win. Sometimes we play for two hours.”

Al enjoys brightening Joe’s day and loves the “rewarding feeling” of   helping others. He recommends volunteering to current Walkabout residents and other FCA program participants. “At the end of the day, everyone should give back if they can. Just one hour a week can make a big difference for someone.”

Family Success.


Family Success Stories from FCA's Children's Mental Health Division

Home & Community Based Services (HCBS)

A youngster we'll call Carly, who is engaged with FCA's HCBS program, was recently awarded the George Farber award at Jerusalem Ave Elementary School! The award is presented by BOCES to one student per school and recognizes a student for his or her academic excellence, perseverance and willingness to help others. Her goals at HCBS have been to focus on her interactions with others and develop effective time management skills. Carly's mother reports since enrolling in HCBS, Carly's ability to regulate her mood and focus on her academic goals has noticeably improved.

Children's Care Coordination

Jamie has been in Care Coordination since November, 2016.  Working with her Care Manager, they've solidified a plan for her to get healthy by joining her local gym and establish a disciplined routing to make healthier food choices. As a result, Jamie has increased her self-esteem and in turn, has been out socializing with her peers more often. Jamie has become a more confident person which was a struggle for her in the past. Having been linked to Creation Arts in Massapequa, NY, Jamie now has a creative outlet which allows her to explore her positive qualities.  She has also been linked to the FCA’s Family Center Respite Program which provides her with more opportunities to engage with activities in the community with her worker and she has clearly enjoyed her experience. We are happy to announce that Jamie has been successfully discharged from our program as of 3/2018!

Erica began Care Coordination in October 2016 with severe anxiety and had not been to school in 9 months.  With the professional care and support of Erica's worker and her ability to enact her newly learned coping skills as we worked to transition Erica back to school full-time, she was successfully discharged in March of 2018 due to her ability to consistently attend school. Erica was also recently accepted to the College Program at NUMC for her senior year and was recognized as student of the month for December of 2017!


At FCA we respect all who come to us for help – and many are working toward a fresh start in life. So while their stories are true, client names and images may have been changed to protect their privacy. We thank you for understanding.

PACT Offers More than Parenting Skills


Through an inter-agency referral, 18 year old Eliza was connected with FCA's Parents and Children Together (PACT) program in Hempstead, NY. She has two children and was seeking access to parenting skills workshops, and assistance with her pending immigration case. Eliza has an undocumented three year old child who has Epilepsy. The diagnosis has significantly impacted her family and cultural beliefs of the use of medication by her father. Eliza decided to live independently with her boyfriend and children to effectively raise and apply her own parenting style and to avoid conflict with her father. She dropped out of school and is not be able to qualify for childcare subsidy due to child’s immigration status. Eliza continues to coordinate services with neurologists, medical professionals, and PACT program’s case manager.  Her mother monitors and administers medication to reduce child’s seizure episodes. Eliza’s child is not eligible to receive Early Intervention for her speech delay due to her child’s age. After being referred to the BOCES Parent-Child Home Program and being involved with FCA, Eliza was now feeling much more supported. Eliza's child will now receive early literacy services twice a week and after several attempts, Eliza was able to successfully enroll her child into the Uniondale School District. Eliza has an upcoming CSE meeting for her child to receive special education services and FCA will be supporting and advocating for her throughout the process. Eliza continues to actively participate in parent support and skills workshops and she is committed to continue to improving her parenting skills.

At FCA we respect all who come to us for help – and many are working toward a fresh start in life. So while their stories are true, client names and images may have been changed to protect their privacy. We thank you for understanding.

FCA Guides Parents on Challenging Paths

shutterstock_195505022.pngBy Kelly Kass, Senior Writer, Marketing Works

For many Long Island residents, Family & Children’s Association (FCA) is a haven of comfort and support for families raising children with emotional disturbances. Located in Garden City and Holbrook, FCA’s Family Centers provide family support, respite, and youth peer advocacy services designed to decrease the need for psychiatric hospitalizations while creating greater stability for caregivers and their children.

At the heart of the Center are weekly support groups led by Family Peer Advocates who are raising a child with social, emotional and/or behavioral challenges. Monthly family engagement activities, such as bowling and art therapy workshops, are also held to provide positive and creative outlets and bring families together.

“Parents typically come to us because they feel they’re not getting proper support in the community or that their family and friends don’t understand what they’re going through,” explains Gwen Breidbart, FPA, FCA Family Engagement Specialist.

Through the creation of a support network, FCA’s Family Center aims to unite and empower families. “Our goal is to validate their experiences, build their confidence and reduce any isolation they might be feeling,” says Rosemary Randazzo, LMSW, FPA, FCA Family Center Coordinator.

Gwen and Rosemary try to build connections between parents’ that they can use outside of group or the program. “We recently had someone in danger of losing her lease, so we photocopied the phone numbers of eight different parents for her to call,” Gwen points out.

Twice a month, support groups are held at a local café in East Meadow, where parents are treated to coffee, and have the opportunity to meet and share stories in a more casual setting. Parents enrolled in the Family Center’s Holbrook location attend similar coffee breaks in Farmingdale. “After assessing barriers that impact people’s attendance at support groups, we decided to reach parents in a way that’s more comfortable for them,” Rosemary explains.

The Family is the Core

In addition to therapeutic services, families are linked to other resources that FCA provides, including home and community-based services (HCBS) and case management. “We tie into every available service and target the family as a unit. If that unit is not in place, no progress will be made,” Gwen points out.

Care managers meet monthly with parents and children in their homes, ensuring effective skill-building techniques pertaining to proper hygiene and maintaining a harmonious home life. FCA staff also evaluate any academic challenges that may be occurring, such as failing grades, overcrowded classrooms or incidents of bullying. “We establish open communication with the parent and child to make sure they know what their rights are and what services they are entitled to,” Rosemary says.

In many cases, parents express difficulties coping with the stigma of mental health. “Many people don’t consider ADHD a mental health condition so they don’t pursue services, or they feel embarrassed to reach out,” Gwen points out. “In the settings we provide, we want everyone to feel welcome and accompany each other on a similar path.”

Gwen recalls one program participant who slept with a knife under her pillow because she feared her 17-year-old son, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia. “Nobody judged her for waiting to seek assistance for her child. They understood her plight and were filled with empathy,” Gwen remembers. “At FCA, we’re here to share people’s journeys and let parents know that they are not alone.”

For more information on FCA’s Family Center, Children’s Care Coordination and other services, visit:

Hope for a Mother of Three


Jane is a multiple trauma survivor with a history of multiple incidents of assault from co-workers, a relative and through intimate partner violence. Through linkages from HERTURN, Jane became a recipient of a grant in the amount of $2500 provided by an FCA Board Member wishing to remain anonymous. Jane has 3 children, one with Pitt-Hopkins syndrome which is characterized by intellectual disability and developmental delay, breathing problems, and recurrent seizures. Receiving this money will help move Jane's family forward as it will go towards the purchase of a Rifton Pacer Gait Trainer which will facilitate her ability to become mobile and an Ipad which will assist her with communication.

Her other 2 children have severe behavioral problems and this family lives together in one bedroom. Jane has endured severe stressful moments due to her complex traumas and attempt at raising a disabled child without financial resources and enough living space. Being the recipient of this grant money is life changing for this family. HERTURN is continuing to support this family with connections to Care Coordination (adult and child) and HCBS services through FCA. Jane does not speak English, but desires to receive a GED and can begin to focus more on her goals now that her daughter has a chance for a better quality of life.

At FCA we respect all who come to us for help – and many are working toward a fresh start in life. So while their stories are true, client names and images may have been changed to protect their privacy. FCA thanks you for understanding.

Friendly Visiting Program Touches the Lives of Long Island Seniors

By Kelly Kass, Senior Writer, Marketing Works

Peter and George


Ninety-three-year-old Peter L. is no stranger to the importance of giving back. The World War II Veteran and Purple Heart recipient proudly served his country in the South Pacific, until he was wounded by a bullet that remained lodged inside his shoulder for a decade.

Years later, others now are giving back to Peter. Three times a week, the South Hempstead resident is visited by George J. Ruggeri, a volunteer with Family & Children’s Association’s (FCA’s) Friendly Visiting Program, which strives to enhance the lives of Long Island homebound seniors through companionship and social interaction.


Peter L. and his FCA Friendly Visitor, George Ruggeri

“I get treated like a king,” Peter says. “Instead of just sitting around and thinking all day, I can have a conversation with someone. This program really lifts me up.”

During their one-hour visits, Peter and George usually enjoy a game of cards or watching game shows. Peter has preferred a “simple way of living” ever since the passing of his wife of 67 years, Madeline, in 2015. Their two children and three grandchildren reside in Suffolk County.

Support from his family and the Friendly Visiting Program enable Peter to fulfill his wish of remaining in his lifelong home. The familiar surroundings “keep you alive,” he says.

Increased socialization also plays a major role in boosting a senior’s quality of life. “Without social interaction, a senior can feel more lonely and isolated, which can lead to poor health and feelings of depression,” explains Jessica DiCarlo, FCA Friendly Visiting Coordinator. “Our trained volunteers are thoroughly vetted with the same goal: to keep people company and bring a smile to their face.”

When George visits, Peter is “overjoyed,” especially when George brings snacks and treats. “It’s rewarding being able to make a person feel better,” George explains. In the six months he has been visiting Peter, George has achieved a greater sense of purpose. “The communication I have with Peter, talking about life stories, is very meaningful to me,” he says.

Louise and Beverly

Louise D., 99, has been a recipient of FCA’s case management and in-home assistance program for 10 years. She has participated in the Friendly Visiting Program for three years. The former military volunteer, teacher’s aide and banking professional resides in New Hyde Park, where she is visited every Thursday by her Friendly Visiting volunteer, Beverly Goldberg.


Louise D. and her FCA Friendly Visitor, Beverly Goldberg

During the hour-long visits, the two women enjoy catching up over a bowl of Italian wedding soup. “I let Louise lead the way with our conversations,” Beverly says. “She is extremely sharp. I learn a lot from her and the many stories she tells.”

Louise, who will be turning 100 years old this September, is a great-grandmother to ten great-grandchildren, and loves sharing anecdotes about the times she used to walk across the Williamsburg Bridge, or when she worked as a New Accounts Teller at East New York Savings Bank in Brooklyn.

As a child, Louise grew up near Mount Vesuvius in Italy, where rumblings and volcanic ash were a common occurrence. Fearing for her family’s safety, Louise’s mother moved Louise and her nine siblings to America. Four of her brothers served in the military, including one brother who became a POW after his plane was shot down. Fortunately, he was later found. A shortage of military nurses led Louise to volunteer for the service, where she was trained on a variety of tasks in a nursing uniform paid for by the bank where she worked. Her passion for giving back was also demonstrated during her three years working as a teacher’s aide at a local elementary school.

Today, she’s grateful for the help she is receiving from the Friendly Visiting Program. She was enrolled in the program by her daughter and is grateful for the added support the service provides.

“FCA volunteers provide an extra set of eyes and ears for seniors,” Louise says. “They’re a constant in our lives which helps provide more stability.”

Beverly points out, “Seniors can be a forgotten group in society. The Friendly Visiting Program empowers senior citizens and provides them with a cheerleader so they can stick to their routines like attending doctor’s appointments.” Volunteers also help seniors stay informed of their rights and entitlements when it comes to Medicare, insurance and social security.

For Louise and Beverly, participating in the program is also a way for them to stay active. Beverly, who is in her 70’s, says,  “Volunteering keeps me going. It’s good for my mind. As long as I can walk, I will continue to help and make a difference,” Beverly says.