FAMILY OF WOODSTOCK
April 7, 2014
Instructor: Ms. Karen Miner
Introduction: The colorful history of the human services agency is attached to a famous event in America’s history. There was a festival in 1969, and this festival was called “Woodstock.” The once quiet little town of Woodstock was becoming engulfed with young people sleeping on benches in the town’s well known “green.” People hitchhiking in and out of town, camping in parking lots and seeking out food and clothing. One member of the town, Gail Varsi realized that there was a problem. Ms. Varsi opened her home and her phone line to these people. The famous Family of Woodstock Hotline still has the same number that was Ms. Varsi’s home telephone number in 1969. Along with the help of local businesses, clergy, and residents, Ms. Varsi organized food drives, clothing exchanges and transportation back to where the young people came from. These are the roots of Family of Woodstock Inc. Today, the agency services all of Ulster County, organizing programs such as the only domestic violence shelter in the county, a teen runaway shelter, several homeless shelters, several walk-in centers(still providing a “free store” and a food pantry) and case management services for adults and adolescents. Family of Woodstock was born when a community need was recognized and addressed; continuing in this line of thinking was the reasoning for the MidWay Program. Many young people, although adults at the age of 18, were unable to live independently and did not have the skills necessary to maintain a manageable life style. Young people who were not technically “runaways,” but were homeless due to many circumstances; some were victims of domestic violence, sexual assault in their homes, some had parents who were unable to provide for them due to financial restraints, substance abuse issues, incarceration, and some just did not have anywhere to go. Many fell...
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