In the News....
January 2019


Karen Carpenter Palumbo, President and CEO of Vanderheyden, and Peter Taormina, Director of Student Services at our school, were in NYC yesterday to accept a grant check in the amount of $50,000 from the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF). 

The check was presented by Hank Watkins Chair of the IICF Northeast Division Board of Directors and Jeff Rubin, Chair of the IICF Northeast Division Grants Committee.

The Richard A. Desrochers Educational Center at Vanderheyden will use the fund ing from the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation Northeast Division to enhance and update the utilization of the Read 180 and System 44 reading programs at the school.
Thank you to the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation!  We appreciate your on-going support! 

Fifteen Vanderheyden students from our Richard A. Desrochers Educational Center received awards for their empowered artwork to ensure that Dr. King's legacy lives on.

A reception was held on January 11th at Siena College's Sarazen Student Union.

The exhibit is part of the 32nd Annual Martin Luther King Jr. & Coretta Scott King Lecture Series on Race and Nonviolent Social Change Art & Writing Invitational....and, the 15th Annual STOP Conference (Students Together Opposing Prejudice.)

Great job, Vanderheyden students!!


Vanessa and Carrie Reif, Program Coordinator
Vanessa C. is the latest graduate from Vanderheyden's Supervised Independent Living Program (SILP) in Troy. And, what a success story she is!
Two-and-a-half years after leaving her foster family and joining Vanderheyden, Vanessa now has her own apartment and makes her own decisions.
The Schenectady County native became a member of our SILP program after her caseworker thought Vanderheyden would be a good environment for her.
"I lost my foster Mom, and then, three months later I lost my best friend," Vanessa said. "I was going through the hardest time of my entire life, so I was in a really, really low, low point."
Because it was a tough year for her, Vanessa said she struggled while in SILP for almost a year and a half until she found her way.
"I was finally able to get a job and maintain that job for another year and a half. I left there, and now I'm at Starbucks full time for almost three months," she said.
Vanessa attributes her success to our SILP Team Members.
"They helped me by continuing to give me chances. They worked with me and they were patient with me," she said. "I'm still really grateful and appreciative of that because other people wouldn't have. They were there for me every step of the way. I'm glad that I stayed here."
Team Members like Life Skills Specialist Nicole Gentile really helped her the most, Vanessa said.
"I was really able to open up to Nicole a lot about my health, my feelings, and how I was feeling in that moment, and she was always there to listen to me," she said.
Carrie Relf is Program Coordinator for SILP. Vanessa said all the questions Carrie asked her such as "What did you do last night? Why weren't you at this appointment this day?" were just to put her on the right track.
"One thing I reflect on the most is that she was just there to help me, and I took a lot of anger out on her, and she didn't deserve that," she said. "She was just trying to help me."
The SILP Team Members also showed her a lot about independent skills, and changes that are happening in her life, Vanessa said.
"I was scared of change, and I don't give myself a chance. I don't tell myself that hey, you will be okay, you just take baby steps to get to that point," she said. "I think it's nice that they helped me realize to give yourself a chance, and you will get there."   
Vanessa said her goal is to be financially stable and comfortable. She credits the SILP
program for the guidance.
"They helped me find a job, and they helped me maintain that job with coping mechanisms. That was a big accomplishment to me," she said.
She also learned how to be self-sufficient, and even bought a car all by herself. Vanessa said it felt good to accomplish that.
"I learned a lot about independence and realizing that you are only getting older, so you have no choice but to start being responsible for your actions and for yourself. They helped me realize that," Vanessa said.  
The performing arts - music, art and acting - are very enjoyable to Vanessa, and she said they helped her get out of her slumps.  
Her first musical production was in middle school, where she played the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland. Community theater is something Vanessa hopes to get into again. She previously had parts in shows by Lights Up Productions in Albany and the Schenectady Light Opera Company.  
Vanessa has advice for other teens who enter the SILP program who may be in a similar situation as she was.
"Let the staff help you, but, also help yourself," she said. "Don't just depend on them to help you get better. You need to do it for yourself as well. It takes a lot of guts, but you can do it."
Good luck, Vanessa! We will miss you! Thank you for being a part of Vanderheyden! You are an inspiration to all!
Vanderheyden's Philo Group Home in Glens Falls collected bags filled with blankets, socks and clothing for The Open Door Mission on Warren Street.

Thank you to our young men and Team Members at Philo, who thought of the idea to help their local men's shelter with much-needed items for the winter!
Photo Credit:  Open Door Mission 
Vanderheyden's brand-new Day Habilitation With Walls program is up and running!  Our newest program, based in East Greenbush, kicked-off on January 15th. 

The program combines in-house activities and community-based activities for the individuals with developmental disabilities.
For more information, or to tour our newest program, contact Karen Morrow at 

Vanderheyden's Maura Psoinos, Vice-President of Community Services attended Lobby Day for Youth in Foster Care, Families and Workforce at the New York State Capitol with the Council of Family and Child Caring Agencies - COFCCA! 
The Vanderheyden Royals Basketball Team's season is in high gear!  The players are joined by our Royals Dance Team, who light up any venue with their cheers of "Go Royals!"
Vanderheyden's Royals take on teams from the Albany Boys and Girls Club, the Troy Boys and Girls Club and La Salle in Albany.
Vanderheyden's budding artists enjoyed a fun night of painting, complete with juice and snacks!  Great job by all!   

Vanderheyden's Huntley Group Home in Averill Park had a great day of winter fun!

Stay tuned to our social media sites to find out about upcoming celebrations for our 185th year!

Vanderheyden is commemorating 185 years of providing services to thousands of youth, individuals and families.   
Vanderheyden is searching for Alumni and descendants with ties to the agency's long history, to relate their memories and inspirational stories of healing and growth.  We are also looking for pictures, or any related items from Vanderheyden, the Troy Orphan Asylum and the Fairview Home for Friendless Children.  Please reach out and leave a message at (518) 874-4964 or email us at:
We are also inviting 185 individuals to become members of the "1833 Society" with a donation of $1,833, to honor the year our organization was formed.
Our hope is that you will join in as someone that makes a future impact in the Vanderheyden legacy to change lives to save lives.  
"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." - Helen Keller .
For more information contact Cathy Yudzevich at , or call (518) 874-4901.  

Nicole Gentile is truly making a difference with our young adults in Vanderheyden's Supervised Independent Living Program (SILP) in Troy.
Gentile, from Schenectady County, started at our agency as an intern and since May 2018, has been working part time as the Life Skills Specialist.
Besides running a monthly life skills group, Gentile works one-on-one with our individuals.
"I go over any skills that they need help with like applying for jobs," she said. "I'm developing their resume, and helping them with budgeting."
Gentile said she also has been helping out with the clinical side of social work, with day-to-day treatment planning, and transition plans for our individuals as they leave the SILP program.
While working at Vanderheyden, Gentile is also finishing up her MSW at SUNY Albany, where she has concentrated on the macro side, or community side, of social work.
Even though one-on-one social work was not in her plans, she really enjoyed working with our individuals and seeing successful outcomes like our latest SILP graduate, Vanessa C.
"Vanessa was one of the youths that I worked with as an intern, and I've continued to work with her until she left the program," Gentile said. "It's really rewarding to be able to work one-on-one with people and see them grow."
Gentile said there is fulfillment in seeing Vanessa develop.
"I think over time it was really nice to see her start to understand that the staff is here to help her," she said. "So it was just really nice to be able to see her grow this whole time and figuring out what she wants to do, and the stability that she wants."
With May graduation right around the corner, Gentile finds time to also give back to the Vanderheyden community with her amazing crocheting skills.
"For the kids that are aging out of care in our program, I made them all blankets," she said.
Gentile also used her crocheting talent to give back at her church in Schenectady, Bellevue Reformed, and also came up with the idea to add the "Little Free Food Pantry" outside the building.
"I brought the idea to our church, and they thought it would be a cool idea," she said. "You fill the cabinet with food every day. So, I put hats and scarves out there, too."
Since her undergraduate degree from Elmira is in English and Human Services, Gentile loves to read.
"I'm really into poetry right now," she said. "I have a wall bookshelf at home full of books. I just love reading anything, really."
Gentile said she cannot thank Vanderheyden enough for the opportunity to be here to experience working with our individuals aging out of the system.
"It's definitely given me a really unique perspective in school to talk about all the challenges that youth in our program have," she said. "It was something that I wasn't educated on before I interned here. I wasn't anticipating loving it as much as I do, but I really do. I love working with these youths."
Thank you, Nicole, for making a difference with our young adults!  We appreciate you! 
Vanderheyden's students and Team Members enjoyed Japanese Cultural Day at our Richard. A. Desrochers Educational Center.    

A day of winter hiking fun at Barberville Falls!

Our NYS award-winning Hetti Demers is a Family Service Worker at Vanderheyden who assists our individuals and families to achieve specific goals, by providing respite, residential habilitation services, skill building, and in-home and/or parent assistance services. Demers works with both children and adults, and introduces them to new experiences.


 Here's some of Vanderheyden's 185th Anniversary History Facts that we have been sharing with our Team Members each week:
In 1901, the children were treated to a visit to Sandlake Fair, and received boat rides to Albany from James O'Neil. Four boys received a trolley ride to Lake George by J.A. Powers, who the boys helped with farm work.
In 1904, it cost only $8.88 to fill the ice house for the year.
In the 1904 sewing room 3,051 garments were made for the 261 children at the TOA.
On May 12, 1904, the first public reception given by the Ladies' Auxiliary was held at the TOA. Several hundred attended, where a decorated tea was served by the ladies, while several pieces of music were playing in the library.
In 1903, $6,000 was spent to double the capacity of the laundry as new machinery was purchased.
At the time of the move to the Eighth Street home on April 26, 1864, the TOA had a debt of $8,000. The Trustees soon raised enough funds to cover it.
During the Great fire of Troy on May 10, 1862, it was believed that a good brick building a quarter of a mile from the fire could be in no possible danger. Five minutes elapsed before the burning shingles from the bridge, borne by the strong west wind, had set fire to the TOA both in the front and the rear of the building.  
At the time of the fire, the 110 children were bathing. Miss Sophia Eastman, the teacher Miss Morrison and the domestics, soon gathered the children outside of the building. Miss Eastman went back inside the building to make sure no little ones were still inside.
The staff and 110 children retreated to a ravine, east of the city of Troy, where they remained for the night. The next night, they spent the night at the University, and were removed to Harmony Hall.
The cornerstone of the Spring Avenue complex was laid on the 30th anniversary of the May 10, 1862 fire.  
In 1909 to raise funds for the smallest babies, a "shower" was held for their benefit. Many garments were contributed, and $62.50 was raised.


Vanderheyden is excited to be participating in the 2019 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: look for shelf tags in the store.


March 4, 2019 - SILP Open House in Troy 
Black and White Gala, a dazzling event coming New Year's Eve!  Stay tuned! 
  More details to come.... Keep following us on Facebook!

                                             As always, thank you for your support!


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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