3 Warren Street
Ellenville, NY 12428
Program Director: Jen Pineda
Assistant Program Director: Jessica Ropke
Program Hours: Each site is staffed 24 hours a day
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PRIMARY FUNCTION: A supervised transitional living program for up to 18 months for adolescents 16-21 who are homeless and not yet prepared to function independently, and, as necessary, their infants. Youth who enter the program at age 16 can stay up to 24 months in order to complete their high school education.
ANCILLARY SERVICES: Crisis intervention; individual and family counseling; educational support; life skills training; job preparedness instruction; vocational and employment assistance; parenting instruction; assistance with locating permanent housing; as well as after care.
Throughout this year, COVID-19 safety protocols remained in place, although there were some summer months when the infection rate was quite low, and the program was able to enjoy more together time. Throughout the start of the year, the program needed to respond multiple times to symptomatic individuals, sudden quarantines for staff or residents, and the need for COVID-19 testing. Vaccinations began for staff and residents in February, with all full-time staff, most fill-in staff, and approximately 65% of eligible residents fully vaccinated by the spring. Staff continued to offer education on COVID-19 and the various vaccination options, and supported residents in making a personal decision related to their own health and understanding. Some youth were hesitant at first, and then later asked for support in getting vaccinated. All youth were provided with education on how to remain safe for themselves and for others when outside of the program, as well. The vaccination brought some hope and psychological safety to the staff and residents as the pandemic continued on. As the year ended, the program again experienced COVID-19 exposures, positive cases, and a lack of staff. It was through the devotion and willingness of the program’s core staff and loyal fill-in workers that both program sites remained open. Many worked overtime week after week, while also meeting the demands of their own families. As always, the program remains quite strong because of the hard-working staff at each site.
Building-wise, the program staff completed numerous indoor painting projects to support the residents in feeling at home in their rooms, and MidWay II received a new roof. MidWay I has had multiple visits regarding an upcoming project to install solar panels, and MidWay II will have the outdoors prepped and painted in the coming Spring. The overall upkeep of the both households is a tremendous amount of work, as lawn upkeep, snow removal, and overall maintenance needs are completed by whichever staff is on at the time. Because of this, these are additional tasks that can be strenuous and time consuming, and often, residents are supported to help when they can. This year, the MidWay II program connected with a great local service that has been helping with the lawn and with the snow removal at an incredible price. This has been a HUGE help to the staff, as the property needs a significant amount of lawn and sidewalk care.
Although the numbers of youth in the program were slightly lower this year, many were dealing with significantly more grief and loss than in previous years. Many of the residents were dealing with the death of a parent in the recent years, and this brought a heaviness into many of the celebrations and holidays. One resident had her first baby after the loss of her own mother last year, and one resident lost her mother after an illness that took her away from her for almost half her life. One resident lost his mother on his birthday last year, and one resident suffered the death of the grandmother who raised her. Additionally, multiple youth lost their mothers years ago, and many of the youth spoke of the pain of not having their loved one near them during the many accomplishments and transitions they were experiencing, and yet, they also expressed joy, connectedness, and gratitude throughout many of their hardest days. Outcomes such as these remain an important part of the program, as it is the emotional healing that happens during their stays that creates a foundation for the residents to continue building on throughout their lives. The program may not always see the strength of these foundations, but the stability provided during these formative years is strategically guided to fill in the gaps of support that the youth may have lost or never received due to the instability of their earlier years.