• admin
  • January 7, 2017

A letter from our CEO

Faces of Federation

My first year of retirement was horrendous. I never realized how much your identity is tied to what you do for a living.  When I retired, my father had a stroke (he’s ok) and my mother broke her back at the same time. At that time, I was just freefalling.

I had seen an article about the Foster Grandparent program in Newsday and I thought, “This is perfect!” I am a retired school teacher having taught 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 5th grades. I tried substitute teaching but that was too much like teaching. I started volunteering in the Foster Grandparent program this past November. As a volunteer, I get to work with the children, but I get to focus on their emotional needs. As a teacher that was always the most frustrating for me—not having the time to devote to each child’s emotional well-being. I don’t have all the authority now but I can make a difference. I try to connect with each one, so they feel special in their own way, every day.

I have them call me nanny.  It’s wonderful.

This has been my therapy. I have my identity back. I am volunteering in the same school that I went to in 4th and 5th grade. I’ve come full circle and I’m giving back to my community. It’s been so rewarding.

You don’t need to be an expert in anything, just do it. It’s so simple.  Everyone has something to offer these children. Kids just need someone to cheer them on. I’m like Jiminy Cricket, helping them stay focused. I realize how much I am helping the teachers as well. Now they can teach because they have me to support the children in the classroom as well. This program is truly a win-win for everyone.

As long as I am physically able, I will still be volunteering. I feel like I’ve been given a gift!

My Name is Laura and I am a Face of Federation.
My Name is Laura and I am a Face of Federation.
My name is Marsha and I am a Face of Federation.

I came from Pilgrim State. At the time, I was battling alcoholism, bulimia, and anorexia. I had struggled for quite a few years. I was floundering around, drinking, drinking, drinking. I was married for 25 years and my husband was a heavy drinker. I would try and keep up with him. My life was just a mess. Before that I had gone to many different hospitals, maybe 15 at least. Finally, I went to one and the counselor there asked me if I would like to go to Pilgrim, a long-term care facility. As soon as I heard the word care, I knew it was a good thing. But it was scary going in there. My brother wrote me letters every day asking if I was safe. Eventually he came and got me.  That was about 9 years ago. I left Pilgrim and came to one of Federation’s homes on the north shore.  I couldn’t believe it when we drove up there…the beautiful trees and the horses.

I walked in and said, “Oh my God.”

It was a home.

Federation’s MRS team has helped me so much and continues to encourage my independence. That’s my basket there behind the couch and I take it with me and do my own grocery shopping.I get to pick out the items that I want. I also teach an adult education crocheting class one night a week at the local high school. We all sit in a little group and they tell me what they want to learn. I teach them different stiches, but I’ve learned so much from them as well. This is my second semester teaching. I was nervous at first but my dad encouraged me. He’s my motivator. He told me to just be myself. He’s so proud of me and it’s so gratifying to be able to make money for things that I want. Eventually I’d love to sell some of the items that I’ve made.

What does it mean to be free? Wow! It’s a blessing. I didn’t think I would ever see my family again before this.

Don’t ever give up. And I still never give up, it’s an ongoing thing. Don’t give up because the miracle will happen. I know what that means. This is a miracle sitting here talking to you.

I want people to know that I am kind. I am caring. I will always listen to someone if they ever have a problem. I will be there.

I’ve been working for Federation for 5 years. I was a member of the Patchogue PROS program and they helped me get a job here. Before that, it was bad. I was homeless, living in the woods until a police officer spotted me and took me to a shelter. I lived there for a year. From the shelter, I went to Concern and lived there and that’s when I started coming to Federation. At the time I was depressed…deeply depressed. I was so down on myself and I didn’t think I would ever work again. It took me five years with one therapist and at first I would go there and literally cry. She would listen to me and let me cry. She would always tell me I’m not worthless. She was trying to boost my confidence but I couldn’t accept it at the time. I had a bad life- I had survived abuse and bad relationships. It took me 5 years to get to this point, but now, I feel great about myself. I can work. I am worth it! I don’t put myself down anymore. I met my husband, the love of my life, and I am a good wife.  PROS helped me gain confidence. It helped me learn to be around people. I was always so self-conscious and I thought people were always talking about me. PROS helped me realize that no one is talking about me– I was putting all of that on myself. I am so glad that I came to Federation. They were there for me. They would listen no matter what and they always had time for me. Here, I learned to put myself first–to do things that I want to do and to stop being a follower. I love working here.

Keep your head up and depend on your support team. Keep moving forward and don’t move back. Things are going to happen don’t let them become bigger than what they are. Keep yourself first.

My name is Chi Qui and I am a Face of Federation.
My name is Chi Qui and I am a Face of Federation.
My name is Daniel and I am a FACE OF FEDERATION
My name is Daniel and I am a FACE OF FEDERATION

Working one on-one with people has empowered me to be as full and strong and clear as possible. They walk into this room and it’s just me here. Each day, I’m invited to reach into my own heart and try to connect with them…because if you feel connected, you can grow. It’s such an honor that people are willing to speak with me about vulnerable and personal pieces of themselves. As the months go on and the relationships develop, we’ve started to see some real changes rooting in our clients and even though they may seem small, they are actually really big. A lot of times they can’t see it and it’s my job to reflect that to them. It’s an amazing opportunity to watch people transform their lives and grow in a positive direction but also to be there to catch them if they fall. 

I just started a mindfulness meditation group here to help members navigate through their mental illness. We’re learning meditation techniques and concepts, as well as incorporating in art and music. All these things can help bring us back to center, increase our focus, awareness, and compassion for ourselves. These qualities can help us cope with anxiety, depression, and the myriad of challenges that come with mental illness. Mindfulness and meditation are ways to come back to the present and see things openly, clearly, and with love.

I learned at an early age the importance of money and spending wisely. I was raised by a single mother who was able to support us through the help of government safety net programs so I understand just how important these services can be and how managing your finances can be difficult and overwhelming for anyone.  For the past 6 years, I’ve been the Program Manager of the Financial Management program. I oversee the Representative Payee Program, the Community Trust Program and the Veterans Fiduciary Program. All combined, our programs help with managing finances and entitlements, budgeting, and providing fiduciary services to over 550 individuals with disabilities or who are veterans.  For some, this can mean making sure rent is paid and they have a roof over their head, or are able to buy food and pay their bills. I’m so lucky because I get to come to work every day and help others get their lives on track by doing what I love which is managing money in smart ways.   This past November, I celebrated my 25th year working at Federation.  I get involved in as much as I can with the agency because I believe in what we do. I’m a member of the Safety Committee, the Incident Review Committee, and always volunteer to help out with fundraising and events. I am so proud of the work we do here and how our programs work collaboratively to help people rebuild their lives.

My name is Joe and I am a FACE OF FEDERATION
My name is Michelette and I am a FACE OF FEDERATION

Surround yourself with support, whether it is in a program like this or somewhere else.  There is always someone willing to listen and to help you. No matter what situation you are going through, there is always someone there to help.

I had been living in a shelter before I came to Federation and I had been receiving services. But it wasn’t really enough.  I didn’t understand what I was going through and I wasn’t dealing with my mental illness very well. I was going to therapy and was pregnant at the time. When I was able to secure housing and leave the shelter, I was overwhelmed with all the things I had to do. I was juggling being a young mom, with two small children to care for and maintaining a household on my own. It was a lot for me and I found myself slowly breaking down.  I knew I needed to find another outlet that would help me; that would reinforce that I was doing a good job and that I could achieve the goals I had too.  Because I knew… the more I took care of myself and my needs, the better I would be at raising my children.  Finding Federation’s PROS program has been a blessing.  I’m not alone now because I have a good support network here. Now, I’m in school to become a social worker and I am working on learning to drive and get my license. I still have my moments where I don’t feel good about myself and I feel like I’m not doing enough. But now, in the back of my mind, I know I’m doing a pretty good damn job. When I met the people here at Federation, it just made me feel so much better about myself. Now I have the support of everyone here when I am at my best, and when I am not at my best and that has made all the difference.