In the News....
February 2020

Introducing the new "Comfort Room" at Vanderheyden's Bessey Group Home in Troy!
A Grand Opening was held in March to show how the over 115-year-old basement on Spring Avenue was transformed into a wonderful, welcoming comfort playroom for our dual-diagnosed individuals.
"The ribbon cutting was magical!" Maura Psoinos, Vice President of Community Services said. "The children and staff looked so proud and happy!  There were smiles, bouncing, testing out bean bags and laughter!"   
"My heart was just so touched because I knew how joyful the children were feeling.  You can see how joyful the children's reactions were," Deb Demers, Director of Community Services said.  "You can feel the happy energy in the room.  It was like waking up on Christmas morning."  
Bessey House Manager Karen Rosen said the room sends a positive message to the individuals. "Calming, inspirational and enjoyable.  Be creative, be kind and be respectful. This is our house and we are awesome," Rosen said.  
"It was exciting creating a room that allows the residents to 'get away' and relax in such a positive way. These residents have been forced to deal with and confront many issues at such a young age," room-designer DSP Denise Roberts said.  "As much as we all try to make these places feel like a 'home', it just feels amazing to know that we could expand another area in which they live, to offer even more."  
After a recent meeting in the Comfort Room with a parent of a Bessey individual, Clinician Dominick Corbett said the parent was amazed.  "It doesnt look like a basement any more. It looks so warm and I think the kids will like it," the parent said.
Thank you to so many of Vanderheyden's Team Members for volunteering their time to make this happen for our individuals!

One of Vanderheyden's famous residents was honored by Black History Month 2020.
As a baby,  Dr. Dorothy Brown entered Vanderheyden's (Troy Orphan Asylum's) doors at what is now the Bessey Group Home on Spring Avenue in 1914.  
In the 1960s, Dr. Brown led the way to make Black History Week an official state commemoration in Tennessee, when she was in the House of Representatives.    
Because of Dr. Brown's efforts and influence, the national commemoration of Black History Month began!
A very special project took place in Mrs Fiori's class at the Richard A. Desrochers Educational Center, where the students learned about Dr. Brown's accomplishments.
Thank you, Dr. Brown, for your many outstanding contributions! 

Kodie P. is from a town in the Adirondack Park. He's been at Vanderheyden for the past two years, and is a 9th grader at the Richard A. Desrochers Educational Center.  
What do you like doing here at Vanderheyden?
"I like to go see rodeos. Laser tag, Dave and Buster's, roller skating and all these new things that I can't do up in the Adirondacks. I also like to watch TV and to hang out with my friends."
What hobbies or sports do you like to do and play?
"When I was home, I played 'skip the pebble.' I like sports like basketball, soccer and football. I really don't have any favorite teams, but like to watch them in arenas."  
What do you want everyone to know about you?
"That I want to be a rapper. I like to rap about my feelings. I'm a singer and I post on YouTube. So far I have ten songs posted. I've actually had a life-long dream to be a rapper, so I just started practicing and practicing. Then when I got good enough, I started posting on YouTube."   
Does anyone get special credit here with helping you?
"Kervin B., Samanta P., Preston K. and John B. They helped me the most through all my situations. They calm me down to help me use my coping skills. They taught me how to deep breathe and how to use my music appropriately, when it's ready to use appropriately, and to count from one to ten."   
Do you have any advice for new individuals in the program?
"My advice for new kids that just get here is that they shouldn't act up because they'll get out of here quicker. I don't want them to be here longer than I was. Just follow the rules."

Thank you to the donors, Vanderheyden's nursing staff, volunteers, Team Members and the American Red Cross for making our 7th Annual Blood Drive another great success!  
Even though it was a difficult time of year to collect blood donations due to snowstorms and the flu season, 25 donors lifted their sleeves and gave blood at the Richard A. Desrochers Educational Center, which helped so many in the Capital Region!   


Vanderheyden was the recipient of much-needed kitchen items from Discover Saratoga for Leap of Kindness Day 2020!   
The marvelous donation was made in memory of Rocco Verrigni, a renowned Capital Region chef and professor of culinary arts at SCCC.  
Thank you so much for your most generous donation in memory of Rocco for Leap of Kindness Day 2020! :)

Photo courtesy of the Saratoga Heritage Area Visitor Center.

Thank you again to the New York State Division of Military Naval Affairs in Latham and the family and friends of DMNA employees for being so generous in providing more luggage to our Vanderheyden individuals!
A couple of months ago, they also gave us 50+ pieces of luggage for our individuals.
No one should leave our organization with their belongings in a paper or plastic garbage bag. Thanks to DMNA, our individuals will once again leave with a nice piece of luggage!
We are so grateful!!

Not only was February 29th, 2020 Leap Day, it was also Leap of Kindness Day!
As M&T Bank's gift of kindness, one of Vanderheyden's cottages at our Wynantskill campus received a much-needed paint job!
Thank you M&T Bank for doing a spectacular job!
Both individuals and Team Members were surely alive with spirit as Student Council Spirit Week kicked off the first week in February at the Richard A. Desrochers Educational Center at Vanderheyden's main campus.
Each day featured a different theme where participants took it to the max!
The themes included Decade Day, where the 50s through the 80s were represented, Fictional Character Day, Dress Your Best Day, Royal Spirit (wear our school color of blue) and Crazy Socks Day and Twin Day.  
Thank you to the Student Council, volunteers and all who participated in this always enjoyable annual event!

Kimberly Rivera is a Clinician for Day Program students at the Richard A. Desrochers Educational Center.  Rivera is from Miami, Florida, who moved to Niskayuna at a young age.  She received her Associate Degree in Criminal Justice from Bryant & Stratton, and her Bachelor's degree in Sociology and a Master's degree in Social Work from the University at Albany. 
What did you do before Vanderheyden?
"Before Vanderheyden I was a substitute teacher in the Schenectady City School District. I also interned at Albany Medical Center in the outpatient Psychiatry Unit, where I provided psychotherapy for adults."  
Why did you choose Vanderheyden?  What appealed to you?
"I decide to work at Vanderheyden because while working as a substitute teacher in the Schenectady City School District, I learned how to work with various type of students and enjoyed working in an educational atmosphere." 
What do you bring to your job?
"A positive attitude and a mindset ready to assist individuals with any situation they are confronted with." 
"I try to bring a positive energy. I try to come in with a smile every day, to make it safe and comfortable for students to actually want to interact with me, and also make it comfortable for staff to interact with me. I want to have a good relationship with everyone here."
What do you like about your job?
"I enjoy building relationships with each individual student and getting to know them on a personal level. As well as collaborating with staff to ensure the students' educational and emotional needs are met." 
"I think in the end, there's a lot of rewards with this job. It's the relationship you build with students, getting to know them individually and also working together with staff to provide a safe environment for the kids."
Share a story or unique experience from Vanderheyden.
"A unique experience outside of my role as a clinician was having the opportunity to assist in teaching a Spanish Language Class (at the Richard A. Desrochers Educational Center), where I have grown to interact with not only day program students but residential students." 
"So, whenever we have an intake and the parents don't speak English or if the guardian doesn't speak English, I help translate. Up in the cottages, if their parents don't speak English, I typically reach out to the parents and try and translate."   
Do the students enjoy learning Spanish?
"At first it was difficult for them to get used to, learning a new language is hard. A lot of them have actually learned to speak certain words, so I think it started to become useful for them, and they're realizing that as well. A lot of them are Seniors and Juniors, so they know that eventually it can benefit them."
Share a story or unique experience from your life.
"After graduating with my masters in 2019, I traveled throughout Europe visiting various parts of Spain and France. I was lucky enough to see the Eiffel Tower." 
What can you say to someone thinking about joining our Vanderheyden Team.
"You are exposed to many different types of situations and learn how to adjust and collaborate with other staff members to ensure the best possible outcome for each individual student."  
"You get to work with tough situations, but at the same time, there's a lot of rewards in the outcome."
What accomplishments/hobbies/likes, etc. do you want to share?
"I received my licensure of Social Work practice in February 2020."
"I enjoy spending time with my nephews and my family. I like to travel a lot, so I try and go visit different areas like Utica, Philadelphia. I do different little mini trips."    


The halls at Vanderheyden were filled with hearts with messages as part of the February Sanctuary monthly theme of safety.

Since "Safety" is the "S" of the SELF model of Sanctuary, team members, individuals, families, programs and departments were encouraged to write what makes you feel safe on the hearts.

The Sanctuary model teaches four domains of safety - physical, emotional, social and moral. 

The model stresses that violence is not just physical violence. The theme of safety means being safe:

Physically:  Safe on the outside
Emotionally:  Safe on the inside
Socially:  Feel safe with others
Morally:  We do the right thing


One of the favorite meals of the school year included Vanderheyden's annual Super Bowl food extravaganza!

"Super Bowl Friday" was held at Vanderheyden's Richard A. Desrochers Educational Center, where the cafeteria featured not only football-inspired food, but was ablaze with signage and jerseys!

Vanderheyden is committed to moving the focus of care from our residential facilities into homes and the community. The Family Engagement Committee seeks to involve individuals and their families in shaping Vanderheyden's commitment to serve the entire family, not just individuals.
Please contact us at     to ask questions, share information, give feedback, and request resources from our Vanderheyden Team.


Vanderheyden's 185th Anniversary Legacy Book is coming soon! 

A book signing event by author Don Rittner will be held on April 24th at Clement Frame Shop & Art Gallery at an upcoming Troy Night Out!


Vanderheyden is excited to be participating in the 2020 Hannaford Helps Schools program!  Our participating location is at 40 Main Avenue, Wynantskill.

Help earn money for our school by shopping for participating products. For every 4 qualifying products you buy, our school earns $3! Choose from over 1,500 participating products, ranging from breakfast and lunch items to household supplies.

Get the full list here: and look for shelf tags in the store.


Time to clean out your closets for the season!  We will accept any unwanted clothing item!  Bring them to our campus at 614 Cooper Hill Road in Wynantskill, and look for the "Blue Box" at the entrance to our parking lot.  Thank you so much for your help!                         
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