Woodlands Community Temple Organizes Food Drive for HVCS

October 2nd, 2017

Woodlands Community Temple in Greenburgh, NY organized a food drive for HVCS’ emergency food closets on Sunday, October 1st. Thanks to everyone who donated and the volunteers who brought a delivery truck full of food to our Hawthorne office!

New Online Donation Methods to Support HVCS

September 21st, 2017

New ways to donate onlineAccording to a recent survey of our supporters, 69% say they prefer to donate to HVCS online. We’ve responded by upgrading our website’s Donate page and by adding a new way to easily donate on Facebook.

Now when you visit our Donate page, you’ll find a more robust online donation box where you can securely make a contribution to us, without jumping to another website or needing to enter any log-in info. And, for the first time, you can set up a recurring contribution–weekly, monthly or quarterly! A recurring donation is an easy, stress-free way to show your support for HVCS’ work throughout the Hudson Valley. (Plus, 10% of you said you’d like to make monthly donations to us.)

We’ve also been verified to receive donations directly through our Facebook page–just click on the Donate button at the top of our page. You can also easily set up your own fundraiser for us and collect donations for HVCS from your online friends. Kudos to volunteer Matt for turning his birthday into a fundraiser for us!

If you have any questions about these new methods, please contact us–we’re here to help!

New Prevention Program for Women of Color Coming Soon

September 21st, 2017
Woman of color

Image by Javi_Indy on Freepik – www.freepik.com

HVCS is launching a new infectious disease prevention program this December specifically for women of color. Our new Women’s Services Program will help prevent new HIV, STD, and hepatitis C infections among minority women in Dutchess, Orange, Rockland and Westchester counties. The program aligns with New York State’s “End the Epidemic” plan to increase the number of women who know their HIV/STD/HCV status and increase the number of women linked to medical care.

The Women’s Services Program will use a trauma-informed approach to outreach and prevention, since many women at high risk for these infections live with traumatic pasts or present-day circumstances, including abuse, homelessness, poverty, and immigrant status.

Our initial contract will run for five years, and we aim to serve at least 300 women each year. We look forward to sharing more news about this exciting and important new program in the future.

NYS Becomes 1st in Nation to Offer Low- or No-Cost Naloxone

August 9th, 2017

From a press release issued by Gov. Cuomo on Monday, August 7, 2017


First-in-the-Nation Program Offers Co-Payment Assistance For Medicine to Reverse Opioid Overdoses Beginning August 9, 2017

Expands State’s Aggressive Efforts to Fight the Opioid Epidemic

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a first-in-the-nation program to provide no-cost or lower-cost naloxone at pharmacies across New York. Beginning August 9, 2017, individuals with prescription health insurance coverage, including Medicaid and Medicare, will receive up to $40 in co-payment assistance, resulting in reduced cost or no cost for this lifesaving medicine. Uninsured individuals and individuals without prescription coverage will still be able to receive naloxone at no cost through New York’s network of registered opioid overdose prevention programs.

“This first-in-the-nation program will help put this lifesaving treatment in more hands and is one more prong in this administration’s efforts to battle heroin and opioid abuse,” Governor Cuomo said. “This is one more step toward a stronger, healthier New York for all.”

Naloxone is a medicine used to reverse opioid overdoses. Reducing the cost of this lifesaving medication builds on Governor Cuomo’s previous action to make naloxone available in pharmacies without a prescription which began in January 2016. Previously, New Yorkers could only receive naloxone with a prescription or through a registered opioid overdose prevention program.

As of August 9, 2017, New Yorkers can find co-payment information at pharmacy counters across the state and at: www.health.ny.gov/overdose. Individuals should provide this information to the pharmacist when asking for naloxone in order to receive it with no or lower out-of-pocket expense. The Naloxone Co-payment Assistance Program is funded by New York State’s Opioid Overdose Prevention Program.

Additionally, through New York’s network of registered opioid overdose prevention programs, uninsured individuals and individuals without prescription coverage will be able to receive naloxone at no cost. A full list of these programs is available here.

In the 2017 State Budget, Governor Cuomo invested over $200 million to fight the heroin and opioid epidemic. This unprecedented support is directed at prevention, treatment and recovery programs that address chemical dependency, expand residential service opportunities and promote public awareness and education.

Naloxone Saves Lives

Naloxone is a prescription medication used to reverse the effects of overdoses caused by heroin, prescription pain medication and other opioids. In 2014, state agencies began working together to develop a statewide program to train law enforcement personnel on how to administer naloxone. Since the trainings began, over 10,000 officers have been trained to administer the drug and 3,091 officers have been certified to train other officers.

Trained law enforcement officers across New York are saving lives with the naloxone they carry. Since April of 2014, 2,036 officers have administered naloxone to over 3,100 individuals, saving the lives of nearly 90 percent of the individuals that required assistance.

View a fact sheet on law enforcement naloxone training and usage, here.

New York State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said, “Naloxone is very effective at reversing opioid overdoses. Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, New York State has taken comprehensive actions to stem the tide of opioid abuse, from increasing the number of treatment beds to making important health insurance reforms to eliminate barriers to accessing substance use services. The new copayment assistance program will make naloxone more available in communities across New York and save lives.”

New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services Commissioner Arlene González-Sánchez said, “By guaranteeing affordable Naloxone to all New Yorkers, we will save thousands of lives and help repair the damage done to our communities by the opioid epidemic. Saving lives is the ultimate goal of all of our prevention, treatment, and recovery initiatives, and with this latest effort, Governor Cuomo is once again establishing New York State as a national leader in the field of addiction care.”

Chair of the Senate Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse George Amedore said, “By increasing access to this effective remedy for drug overdoses, we are taking yet another step forward in combatting the heroin and opioid epidemic. I commend the Governor for removing barriers to help establish a stronger, healthier New York for generations.”

Chair of the Assembly Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Linda B. Rosenthal said, “New York’s communities are hard-struck by the heroin and opioid epidemic, and we must turn the tide by preventing more overdose deaths. Governor Cuomo’s plan to expand access to lifesaving naloxone through a new low-cost or no-cost co-payment system will help those struggling with this disease. By increasing access to Naloxone and cutting costs related to this lifesaving medication, New Yorkers in every corner of the state will be better equipped to save lives and help people receive the treatment they need. I look forward to working closely with the Administration to continue expanding access to overdose prevention and greater treatment options.”

Chair of the Senate Health Committee Kemp Hannon said, “The health and well-being of residents is our top priority. I look forward to working with the Governor to bring this treatment to our most vulnerable men and women, so that communities will be empowered to save the lives of thousands.”

Harm Reduction Coalition Medical Director Dr. Sharon Stancliff said, “This program will dramatically increase access to naloxone for people we haven’t easily reached. These include patients being treated for pain, loved ones of people returning from drug treatment or incarceration and people at risk in rural areas. This is a crisis and New York’s copayment assistance program adds to the solution.”


New Substance Abuse Program Coming to Sullivan County

August 9th, 2017

A map of Sullivan CountyHVCS has received a grant from the NY State Department of Health to create what is called a Drug Users Health Hub for opiate users in Sullivan County. This new program, which we are calling the Hub, will help reduce opioid use and overdoses while improving clients’ general health.  The funds will enable us to hire a physician and nurses to write Buprenorphine prescriptions and offer crisis visits, relapse prevention and wound care in our Monticello office.

We are anxious to get to work with new staff positions and resources so that we can reduce the number of opioid overdoses and get more people into treatment. This program is also exciting because it will allow us to provide actual medical care as a stand-alone service, which is something HVCS has never done before.

The Hub will work in tandem with our other substance abuse treatment programs, the Syringe Exchange Program and Project ReachOut.

Buprenorphine–What’s That?

Staff in this program will be able to prescribe Buprenorphine to treat opioid and heroin addiction. It relieves drug cravings without producing the same high as other opioid drugs. The program nurses will also provide relapse interventions and monitor clients so they can access the services they need.

Homegrown Fundraisers: You Can Be a Fundraising Superstar for HVCS!

July 27th, 2017

We’re sharing this article from The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s May issue because it’s in sync with a new initiative we’re starting here at HVCS. We’re encouraging our supporters to try their hand at a third-party fundraiser–which really means a small, personal fundraising event that you throw or do for your circle of friends and family. A third-party event can be a fantastic way to help HVCS’ clients without a ton of planning, worrying and overhead. From holding a potluck supper in your home to booking a paint-and-sip charity night to going on a hike, you can turn any event into a fundraiser with a little ingenuity. Check out our new guide to third-party events, and read on for more ideas.


Weddings. Birthday parties. Bike rides. Bake sales. Pub crawls.

More groups than ever are offering online tools to help supporters raise money through a widening variety of events, activities, or challenges that they conceive, organize, and manage themselves.

Paragliding all over the world? Why not raise money while you do it?

Giving up drinking for a month? Let’s set up a fundraising page for that.

The online tools make it easy for people to create their own pages and share them on social media or through email — creating new groups of supporters for nonprofits in the process.

Charities say they are facilitating these fundraising options to keep up with supporters’ shifting habits. Platforms like GoFundMe allow people to raise money in almost any way they want to, and nonprofits say they need to be just as flexible.

New platforms like DonorDrive and Blackbaud’s Everydayhero have allowed charities large and small to register these do-it-yourself events at low cost. For example, Everydayhero is free for nonprofits that use Blackbaud’s TeamRaiser software — which helps people raise money for charity through events organized by nonprofits — and about $1,000 for those that don’t. There’s also an administrative fee, usually around 5 percent, per transaction.

While the amounts raised usually are only a sliver of most charities’ overall contributions, grass-roots fundraising events offer big potential for acquiring new supporters. Their promise is limited only by nonprofits’ willingness and ability to help.

“It’s an emerging trend, fueled by technology and changes in how people communicate and run their lives in the digital age,” says David Hessekiel, president of the Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum, which provides resources for nonprofits that run events in which supporters raise money on behalf of nonprofit organizations.

Ryan Belk
PEDAL POWER: Scotty Parker, 12, plans to ride his bike from the California coast to Charleston, S.C., this summer, 
with a goal of raising $500,000 for Water Mission. At age 10, he raised $70,000 riding across his 
home state of South Carolina.

Fast-Growing Trend

Just a decade ago, most nonprofits were cautious about liability issues related to outside supporters using logos and marketing materials in ways that might embarrass the organization, says Mr. Hessekiel.

Trailblazers included the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which put on head-shaving events to support children’s cancer research, and Movember, which urges men to grow mustaches to raise funds for male health efforts. The St. Baldrick’s events raised $34.9 million in 2016, and Movember raised $17.2 million.

Those organizations were soon joined by other nonprofits big enough to have the staff and expertise to promote and oversee DIY events.

“For bigger charities, it’s pretty much expected now,” says Kevin Scally, director of digital marketing for Smile Train, which launched a donor platform last November with new features for its DIY fundraisers.

The technology boom has allowed smaller players to join the action in recent years using an expanding and diverse array of low-cost tools. However, the money from homegrown fundraisers doesn’t come free or without effort: Many groups devote significant staff time and marketing dollars to help supporters with their campaigns.

“There’s been a lot of disappointment” for groups that think DIY events generate easy money, says Mr. Hessekiel.

Attracting Younger Donors

Smile Train, a group that instructs doctors in how to help children in poor countries who need surgery to correct cleft lip, allows supporters to build profiles on its website that resemble social-network pages. Through the profiles, supporters can start their own fundraising campaigns and add a video, photos, and a description of their event. They can also comment on other people’s pages and share their fundraising events on Facebook, Twitter, and other social-media sites.

If the grass-roots event gets offline contributions, those can be logged into the online system to show gratitude to the donor.

So far, DIY fundraisers make up only a small percentage of the organization’s support. But Mr. Scally says it’s still vital to provide a way for Smile Train to accommodate anyone who wants to raise money. The organization hopes its DIY program will attract younger donors, he says. It seems to be doing just that; 48 percent of Smile Train’s DIY organizers are millennials, and 33 percent are from Generation X.

On the charity’s website, people can choose from a range of options, like athletic events or birthday celebrations in which guests are asked to give to Smile Train. They can also select the “get creative” option and come up with their own idea.

“It’s really important in today’s day and age to have a set of tools where people can go on and create things on their own,” Mr. Scally says. “You know how easy it is to set up a GoFundMe page. You know how easy it is to set up a Facebook profile. We tailor our tools to be similar to that type of sign-up process — where it’s quick, it’s easy, it’s fun.”

Among its DIY events posted online:

  • Last year, a couple from Edison, N.J., raised $1,725 during a housewarming party.
  • A yoga instructor in West End, N.C., donated $6,100 — a percentage of revenue from her class — to Smile Train.
  • A couple from Saratoga Springs, N.Y., has committed to raise money every year until their infant son, who has a cleft lip, turns 18. Their goal: $175,000.

Banners and Balloons

Some organizations are asking supporters to start DIY events as part of larger campaigns.

DIY campaigns raise a sliver of most groups’ overall totals, but they’re good for acquiring donors.

The Alzheimer’s Association, for instance, asks people to organize their own events for its “Longest Day” campaign. Many of the events are held on the summer solstice, although people can raise money year-round. The campaigns run the gamut: rides, hikes, climbs, bowling, golfing, bridge tournaments. On June 20 last year, a supporter wrote poems on his blog from sunrise to sunset in honor of his wife, who suffers from Alzheimer’s. He raised a little more than $400.

Longest Day events raised almost $4 million in 2016 — the second-biggest peer-to-peer fundraising campaign for the nonprofit after its signature Walk to End Alzheimer’s. Longest Day is expected to raise even more this year, says Donna McCullough, the charity’s chief development officer.

Part of the reason for the campaign’s success, she says, is that supporters can access items like banners, balloons, and cups with the campaign’s logo to use in their events. The drive’s Facebook page is littered with people wearing “Longest Day” T-shirts at their individual events.

“It unites them in a common goal, and it really gives them a sense of joining the Alzheimer’s movement,” Ms. McCullough says.

Tips and Webinars

Many groups that have a DIY program provide tips and other resources for people raising money.

Water Mission, for instance, gives a DIY-fundraising tool kit to campaigns with goals of raising between $10,000 and $30,000. The clean-water charity’s kit includes customizable posters and fliers, a news-release template, and a fundraising tip sheet.

For World Vision’s Global 6K for Water drive, to be held May 6, the aid charity held regular webinars to educate people on the cause and talk about challenges and advice for hosting a six-kilometer walk on behalf of the organization. The web­inars helped “create a sense of community early on,” says John Overy, director of digital marketing for World Vision, by making supporters feel like they were part of a large campaign.

Tending the Grass Roots

Many nonprofits have failed to provide enough help to DIY fundraisers to take full advantage of what they have to offer, experts say. Small groups in particular struggle to find the resources they need to make the programs successful.

For small groups that want to try peer-to-peer fundraising, however, DIY events may be a good low-cost alternative to hosting large runs or walks, says Mr. Hessekiel. Small organizations need to assess how much staff time they can devote to the program and should keep their expectations modest.

“Nobody is going to raise — other than in fluky situations — huge amounts of predictable, long-term money unless that are able to dedicate staff in order to make these programs really sing,” Mr. Hessekiel says.

Organizations with growing grass-roots programs tend to spread among several staff members the work of monitoring DIY platforms, thanking organizers, and answering their questions — or they have dedicated a full-time employee to handle most of those tasks.

Still, even large organizations say keeping up with all the events can be challenging.

Online fundraising tools boost results by allowing users to let their creative juices flow.

“I’m a one-man shop,” says Megan Rouse, who has managed Susan G. Komen’s DIY program since last July. She says she spends more than a third of her time on the phone daily, mostly providing guidance and encouragement to organizers or trying to rouse dormant campaigns.

DIY events brought in $900,000 in Komen’s 2016 fiscal year; in fiscal 2017, which ended March 31, the breast-cancer charity raised $1.6 million. “I truly believe that is because of the customer service and building those relationships — talking to people, making sure they feel comfortable,” Ms. Rouse says.

Water Mission has tried to systematize its approach, developing what it calls a “decision matrix” that outlines what kinds of assistance each fundraiser will get from the organization.

For instance, an event with the potential to collect more than $30,000 has a staff member assigned as a contact and gets help with custom marketing materials, among other assistance.

“We only have really two people on our staff that are in that DIY and event-fundraising space, and we were running them ragged” before adopting the matrix, says Lisa Cottingham, the organization’s former director of development, who left in April to pursue consulting. “We had to come up with a way to allocate resources based on what we knew from experience and what we saw going forward.”

Marketing Boosts

For many organizations, promotional efforts are key to expanding their grass-roots campaigns. On its homepage, Smile Train links to its DIY registration page, and it promotes campaigns on its social-media accounts.

World Vision also promotes campaigns on social media and provides information about the program in its newsletters and in emails to current donors. Sometimes, Mr. Overy says, the charity’s staff battle over which program is going to be touted in which space and how often.

Those who run DIY programs need to stick up for them, he says. “You have to be an advocate and fight for marketing opportunities.”

Another major challenge has been retaining donors who give to a friend’s or loved one’s campaign but don’t organize the event themselves. The mind-set of those donors is often, “I’m helping a friend. I’m helping a cause. I’m not giving out of motivation to help the charity,” says Mr. Overy.

For now, World Vision sends major-gifts fundraisers information about donors who make sizable contributions to DIY campaigns so those donors will get personal attention, he says. Smaller donors get an initial email thanking them for their gift, then are put in the same fundraising email and messaging streams that serve all one-time donors, he says.

For Ms. Rouse at Susan G. Komen, retaining those who organize events is more important. After all, they are the ones who are going to keep their friends and relatives giving.

To keep grass-roots fundraisers on board, she often calls people who have led past campaigns to ask if they are still going to participate. Sometimes she reregisters campaigns while she’s on the phone.

She sums up the message of the phone calls: “I know who you are, and I want you back.”

Making A New House A Home For Our Housing Program Clients

July 10th, 2017

Contents of a standard housing starter kitThis spring, HVCS tried something new with our Housing Program: we purchased thirty large “housing kits” for clients going into new apartments. The kits contain new, common household items–like bedding, kitchenware and utensils–that are likely beyond the financial means of clients who were previously homeless. These are also items that are not available at food pantries. “When we get clients into new housing, they often arrive with the clothes on their backs or a small box of possessions,” said Ginny Schneider, HVCS’ Director of Client Services. “These kits give them a head start on making their new place a home.”

The Housing Program will distribute fifteen kits in our Lower Hudson region, and fifteen in the Mid-Hudson. If this pilot venture works well, we will allocate more of the program’s budget to purchasing additional kits. This venture is similar to our new HomeStarter program now operating in Rockland.

PACE Otisville Hold Food Drive for HVCS

June 1st, 2017

Canned goods collected by Otisville inmates in the PACE program Melissa & Steven, two of our Prison Services CoordinatorsSpecial thanks to the members of the PACE (Prisoners’ AIDS Counseling & Education) program at Otisville for organizing a food drive for us in May! Members organized an AIDS Walk and asked fellow inmates to donate canned goods. Our Prison Services team attended the big event last month, and pictured here is Melissa and Steven with the results. Great job, PACE Otisville!

HVCS’ Food & Nutrition Programs Need Your Help

May 31st, 2017

When you don’t eat right, you don’t feel right. And so it was for Terry.

Terry* would make the rounds of local food pantries and soup kitchens. It was how he survived. His ‘home base’ was a homeless shelter in Orange County – where our Nutrition Education and Outreach coordinators would see him. But he always declined their help.

He didn’t trust anyone enough to let them assist him. However, after talking to him for a year, Terry began to confide in our coordinator, Debbie. He opened up about his addiction issues, his lack of family support, and his illiteracy. All of the systems that our society has set up to help people like him had let him down.

Then one day he appeared in our Newburgh office. “All right,” he said.  “I know you’re on my side. I need help.”

Debbie enrolled Terry into a nutrition access program in only two days.

“What are your goals?” Debbie asked.“I want a job,” Terry said. “I want a job so I can save money and get my own place, off the streets.”

Together, Debbie and Terry built a realistic plan to achieve that goal. After a few weeks and a referral to drug detox, Terry applied for and landed a job as a dishwasher in a local restaurant. Terry continued to receive nutritional assistance for a few months while he worked, and with our help he finally saved up enough money to rent a room of his own.

Terry went from being homeless and surviving on soup kitchens to being a fully contributing member of the Hudson Valley community.

And your support makes it possible. In fact, Hudson Valley Community Services has been supporting clients’ health with food and nutrition services for decades because of people like you. With your help we hand out over 10,000 food bags each year and feed nearly 1,100 people.

Donate today to keep our emergency food closets fully stocked.

We know you share our belief that a thriving Hudson Valley is made up of residents who are living their full potential: healthy, active and enjoying all the wonderful things that make this a great place to live. That’s why we connect anyone who needs temporary help getting enough food to all our available services.

But our food and nutrition programs are currently operating at a significant deficit because government grants aren’t able to meet the actual demand for food assistance in our area. In fact, three of our emergency food closets are sitting empty right now due to lack of funds, and we haven’t been able to purchase food from local food banks. Without direct support from caring people—like you—we’d be forced to reduce our services, hand out less food, and turn clients away from our emergency food closets.

Your contribution–of any amount–makes a difference. 

It means we can keep our food and nutrition programs strong. It means people like Terry have a chance to create a meaningful life. So please continue to help us build healthy communities right here in the Hudson Valley. It goes far beyond keeping food on our pantry shelves. You can help fuel bodies, prevent disease, and turn lives around—and more people can live their full potential.  Please give today.

Free HIV Home Testing Kits Offered By NYSDOH

May 30th, 2017

As part of the Governor’s plan to end the AIDS epidemic in New York State, the Department of Health’s AIDS Institute is pleased to announce a free statewide HIV Home Test Giveaway. This is an innovative strategy to address a gap in HIV testing among gay men, men who have sex with men (MSM), and transgender or gender non-conforming people who have sex with men.  The AI, in collaboration with New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and OraSure, the manufacturer of OraQuick® in-home HIV test, are making home HIV test kits available to eligible recipients now through July 7, 2017.
To be eligible to receive a free home test kit, participants must meet the following criteria: identify as a gay man; MSM; transgender or gender non-conforming person who has sex with men; be at least 18 years of age; reside in NYS (excluding NYC); and have never been diagnosed with HIV. If the participant is determined to be eligible, they will be asked to provide their email address where they will receive a discount code and instructions for redeeming a free HIV home test kit via OraSure’s website. Upon completion of the follow-up survey, participants will have the option to
receive a $20 electronic Amazon gift card. If the participant is determined to be ineligible, they will be referred to the AI website where there will be additional resources and information related to HIV testing.
Please visit  http://on.nyc.gov/2po3uwV to see if you’re eligible for a free home HIV test kit.