Jan 02

Message from FCSSC Executive Director

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you2016091295073727121 have to keep moving forward.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

On January 5, 2017, Family and Community Services of Somerset County will mark the 57th year since the merger of The Community Service Society of Bound Brook and the Family Counseling Service of Somerset Hills that created, what we now call, Family and Community Services of Somerset County (FCSSC).

The ability to adapt in an ever-changing socio-economic environment is essential to the survival of any small business and it is especially critical to a small non-profit organization.  For the past 20 years, Eric Harris led our organization with professionalism, compassion, skill, and love.  With the support and sacrifices of the staff and the Board of Directors throughout the 20 years, FCSSC managed to stay afloat when many small non-profits struggled and in some cases failed.

I am thankful that not only do I have the opportunity to serve as the Executive Director as FCSSC enters its 57th year but I am also thankful that Eric and the staff of FCSSC enter this 57th year with me.  While we will no doubt encounter both old and new challenges in our journey forward, I remain hopeful that FCSSC can continue to serve our community for many years to come.

In my four short months of employment, there have already been so many notable accomplishments worth mentioning.  In September of 2016, FCSSC had a successful 5K fundraiser.  In November, we successfully launched a new group that provides essential services to perpetrators of domestic violence. In December, we welcomed a new supporter to our organization as we had a local group donate stuffed animals to the children to whom we provide services. Also in December, we had a successful visit by the State regarding our mental health services.  And finally, in October and December, we welcomed a total of two new board members to our team.

Here’s to a happy, healthy, and successful 2017!
Warmest regards,
Richard W. Schumann

Dec 29

Family and Community Services is Grateful to the Hearts of Watchung

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The Hearts of Watchung, led by Cindy Homer, is a group of tremendously caring and generous individuals who donate to families of need throughout the year. Family and Community Services is so fortunate to have this group to donate a multitude of gifts to a tremendous number of its’ lower income families particularly during the Holiday season. This group donates to the clients of several non-profit agencies that serve low income and at risk families.

A couple of weeks ago our full-time Spanish speaking counselor contacted Cindy Homer about one of her families who moved into the neighborhood in the past year and who could barely afford basic needs. This is a single parent family with 5 children who have been subjected to domestic violence in the past.

Cindy and the Hearts of Watchung asked for a needs list for all the family members and last week a tremendous number of brand new gifts, games, books, household needs ,and gift cards (for food and for fans for their apartment) were delivered to the family by Cindy; her children Wade, Jordan, and Harrison; and two F@CS staff. The people of the Hearts of Watchung went way beyond the definition of generosity. It was truly an amazing scene watching the excitement and happiness of the children as well as the appreciation of their mother as they received this tremendous volume of gifts.

Family and Community Services and so many of its’ clients and families of great need are so appreciative of this collaborative relationship with these exceedingly caring group of people!

Note: Due to confidentiality we were unable to take pictures of the family.

Dec 29

Helping Your Long Term Relationship Succeed

160463-164847“They got married and lived happily ever after”. Wouldn’t it be nice if life was truly like a fairly tale?

Unfortunately, in reality this does not happen. The divorce rate for first marriages has been very close to 50% for the past several years, and the rate increases to over 50 % for subsequent marriages.

What contributes to such high rates of marital or relationship breakdown? Unrealistic expectations are a major contributing factor. There are a number of misconceptions that people have when they marry including “love lasts forever”, “if she/he loves me then she/he will ….”, “once we get married (or have children), things will get better”, “he/she will change”, “I will be happier and have my needs fulfilled when I’m married”.

We were never told that marriage or living with someone is very challenging and requires a great deal of “work”, compromise, and acceptance. We are often seeking easy solutions in life and magical happiness. There is a general attitude that “I have to work at school, I go to my job and have to work, and I have to work on this too???

People in relationships or marriages don’t realize how their partners often think, see things, communicate, and react quite differently. We often expect our partners to understand everything we feel, to understand our needs, and/or to always change. In addition, marriage or long term relationships continuously change over time as new stages of life and stressors develop. Having children could be a wonderful experience but it certainly alters the marital relationship in a number of ways including time alone and together, energy levels, the sexual relationship.

Another factor that contributes to marital or relationship breakdown is lack of commitment. Many time partners are looking for a new spark, the perfect relationship, or fall into the mythical trap of “the grass is greener on the other side”. Often, partners are not willing to work at the relationship, compromise, negotiate, or communicate.

A successful marriage or long term relationship can also be a very rewarding experience. Some helpful hints to a successful relationship:

  • Be realistic. Realize marriage can be challenging and that it’s not just about love, sex, and common interests. Marriage often needs to include such things as friendship, respect, consideration, compromise, communication, effort.
  • Pick and choose your battles. Prioritize what issues in the relationship (or about your partner) might need to be changed while accepting some of the others.
  • Realize that there are definite differences between you and your partner, don’t always try to change them, and try to understand where your partner is coming from.
  • Don’t always expect your partner to do the work or change. “Ask not what your partner could do for you (or your relationship), ask what you could do for your partner (or relationship)”.
  • Stay committed to the relationship (don’t fall for the grass is greener on the other side trap) unless your relationship is truly harmful or destructive.
  • Make the time to spend quality time with your partner. This includes time for communication and for enjoyable activities.

Written by: Eric Harris

Dec 19

FCSSC Board President Holiday Message

Dear friends, neighbors and family members:

It is that time of year, where we all begin to make resolutions for the new year, and in my case, look back at what I am thankful for.  This year, I am blessed, both personally and professionally.

I am blessed personally, as my family is healthy, and happy.  Is there anything more important in life?  In my opinion, I don’t think so.

Professionally, as the President of the Board of Directors of Family & Community Services of Somerset County (FCSSC), I am blessed as well.  I have the pleasure of working with a wonderful board of directors, and an outstanding, professional, talented staff at the agency.  And, by the way, thankfully, they report, they are healthy and happy as well!

When I look back to 2016, it was a year of change at FCSSC.  Our long term Executive Director, Eric Harris, announced and began a well-deserved retirement.  While he still sees clients at the agency, he is now able to spend more time with his family.  We were able to recruit a wonderful successor, Richard Schumann who will lead our transformation going forward.  In a short period of time, Richard has already made an impact, and implemented a number of changes that will lead to better services that our friends, neighbors and family members in Somerset County have come to expect.

As I look forward to 2017, I hope that our year will be one of “coming together”.  We have opportunities ahead of us, as a community, to help those in need.  We have the opportunity to join together to prevent shootings, bullying, and other awful actions that are related to mental health.  How do we come together and do this?  Instead of assuming that someone else will help, consider asking yourself “what can I do to help?”.  For me, I help by giving my time leading the Board of Directors at FCSSC.  My colleagues on the board are so generous with their time and insights that help to shape the agency, which in turn helps our community.  Let me re-phrase that… it helps OUR community.

The work we do at FCSSC goes directly to helping those in need here in OUR community.  The monies raised do not go to some large corporate building out of state, they are 100% utilized in Somerset County, our home.  Many of you are very busy with careers, family and other commitments and that is wonderful.  You can also help by attending our fund raising events, or consider a donation.  For those of you that work for generous organizations that match your funds, please remember to request the matching funds.

Please consider contacting me and asking “Howard, I like the work that is being done at FCSSC, what can I do to help?”.  2017 is the time for us to come together and work towards helping OUR community!

I wish you all a healthy and happy New Year and hope your dreams all come true!

Best,

Howard Hessel, FCSSC Board President

Oct 26

Thank you to our sponsors and donors for our 5th Annual “Don’t Fall, Let’s Run” 5K Run/Walk and Kid Sprint

 

Thank you to Banner Sponsors: 

  • Summit Oaks Hospital
  • Pinto Brothers
  • Thank you to our Mile Mark Sponsors:
  • Dr. Jim Bremner, Chiropractor
  • Dr. & Mrs. Robert Manduley

Thank you to our T-shirt Sponsors:

  • Dr. Jim Bremner, Chiropractor.  Bound Brook. www.DrJimChiro.com (908)251-3588
  • Summit Oaks Hospital, (800)753-5223, www.SummitOaksHospital.com
  • Applebee’s Grill & Bar of Bridgewater. 640 Promenade Blvd, Bridgewater, NJ (732)627-0888
  • Merry Maids of Middlesex, Somerset and Union County – (908)336-0278
  •  Ernest Renda, Esq.  Bridgewater. (908)722-1255
  •  Pleasant Run Family Physicians/PCP, (908)788-9468, www.PleasantRunDoctors.com
  • GenPsyche, www.genpsych.com, (855)436-7792
  • Hillsborough Dental Center. www.HillsboroughDental.com (908)359-1112
  •  Leading Edge Lacrosse. LeadingEdgeLacrosse.com (973)348-5291
  • PALS Play And Learn School.  (908)359-PALS (7257)
  • The Krupat Family
  • The Harris Family
  • The Hessel Family
  • The Patullo Family
  • The Man in the Hat

Thank you to Wegmans of Bridgewater for being our food sponsor

Thank you to all of the following for their generous monetary donations:

Our Gold Sponsors:

  • Mr. John McCormack
  • Dr. and Mrs. Robert Manduley
  • Ms. Anita Attridge
  • Mrs. Christine Massey

Our Silver Sponsors:

  • Pet Sitting by Ruthe
  • Ms. Claire Roberts
  • Ms. Irene Counihan
  • Ms. Helen Connor
  • Ms. Kristen Chmielewski
  • Mr. Seebu John
  • Ms. Lori Goldberg
  • Ms. Margo Cordivari

Our Bronze Sponsors:

  • Ms. Akshaya Channira
  • Samanthat Nici
  • Ms. Jackie Gruber
  • Ms. Kim Graham
  • Ms. Michelle Castellani
  • Ms. Catherine Mitch
  • Ms. Emily Woo
  • Ms. Janelle Escalona
  • Ms. Veronica Lenox
  • Ms. Lisa Verga
  • Mr. Jackson Franklin
  • Ms. Ramya Sundaresan
Oct 10

Batterer’s Intervention Group starting at FCS

• More than one in three women and more than one in four men in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
• 74 percent of all murder-suicides involved an intimate partner (spouse, common-law spouse, ex-spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend). Of these, 96 percent were women killed by their intimate partners.
• One in five female high school students reports being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner.
• Interpersonal violence is the leading cause of female homicides and injury-related deaths during pregnancy.
• The percentage of women who consider their mental health to be poor is almost three times higher among women with a history of violence than among those without.
• Women with disabilities have a 40 percent greater risk of intimate partner violence, especially severe violence, than women without disabilities.
Source: American Psychological Association

Domestic violence is a subject that some people find difficult to discuss. We have empathy for the victim(s) and others who suffer through residual effects of the abuse but how should we feel about the perpetrator? Should we want to help them too?

Though many people believe the term “batterer” implies physical abuse, domestic abuse/violence is more than just physical abuse. Many couples are either unable to identify or are in denial when the abuse is about “control”. Control is one of the most destructive forms of abuse and is the reason that so many abusive situations end in murder/suicide.

By gathering and using appropriate accountability measures and self-awareness tools, abusive partners can eventually have healthy, respectful relationships if they accept responsibility for their actions, identify and challenge the belief systems which contributed to their unhealthy behaviors and learn healthy, non-violent ways to interact with their partners.

Our trained staff are certified instructors in the RESPECT program and are here to help support those individuals currently identified as a “batterer” in his or her journey to shed the label of a “batterer” and engage in healthy and respectful relationships. Please call 732-356-1082 or email respect@fcssomerset.org for more details.

Sep 13

Richard Schumann Hired as Executive Director at Family and Community Services of Somerset County

MEDIA ADVISORY: NEW HIRE ANNOUNCEMENT

Richard Schumann Hired as Executive Director at Family and Community Services of Somerset County

2016091295073727121WHAT:            Family and Community Services of Somerset County (FCS) has announced the appointment of Richard Schumann as the Executive Director.

WHO:              Mr. Schumann will be replacing Eric Harris who has been with the organization for 22+ years. In his role, Mr. Schumann will manage the day to day operations, manage grants and fundraising initiatives, and report to the FCS Board.

WHEN:            Mr. Schumann began at FCS on Monday, September 12th. Mr. Harris will continue to support Mr. Schumann and will offer his services to the FCS as a clinical role.

WHERE:          339 West Second Street Bound Brook, NJ 08805

Mr. Schumann joins FCS from the Somerset County Office of Aging and Disability Services where he was the Contracts and Fiscal Planner for the past three years. Prior to his employment in county government, Mr. Schumann worked at Easter Seals New Jersey for over 20 years where, among many other responsibilities, he provided care management services to adults who have a severe and persistent mental illness, developed and implemented quality improvement policies and procedures for substance abuse programs, and managed camping and recreation programs for consumers with developmental disabilities in his role as Assistant Vice President.

Mr. Schumann received his Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at Stetson University and his Master of Business Administration in Health Administration at Eastern University.

Family and Community Services of Somerset County is a 501(c)(3) non-profit community agency by providing professional and affordable mental health, family and addictions counseling services to children, adolescents, adults, and families in need. We provide support services to address each of life’s many transitions and problems.

For more information on Family and Community Services visit: http://fcssomerset.org

Contact: Rachael Wolensky Rachael.wolensky@gmail.com

 

Sep 08

FCSSC Board President Message: Eric Harris Announcement

It is with mixed emotions that I share the news that Eric Harris, our Executive Director, has decided to retire from his role at Family & Community Services of Somerset County.  Eric has spent the past 35 years of his career at FCSSC, starting as an intern while he studied Social Work at Rutgers, eventually working his way up to Executive Director.  While he will remain at FCSSC in a part time clinical role, it is still a time to reflect on his legacy to our agency, and to the community.

When Eric was asked in 1995 to become Executive Director, he did it the way he always does everything.   He hesitantly said “yes”, but then put his entirety into the role.  At that time, the agency was close to closing its doors due to major financial struggles.  While the agency was able to keep the lights on, it was never a smooth sail even up to today.  Non-profit work is a constant struggle to keep the lights on.  With funding ups and downs, with changes in government policies and reimbursement, with the continued challenge to find the right staff and board members, Eric continually stayed focused on what truly matters, making sure those in Somerset County, who rely on FCSSC, were able to get the help that they needed.

As I reflect back on my years on the Board, and most recently, my years as Board President, I value the friendship that I have developed with Eric.  He has taught me the importance of family, not only immediate family, but that of an extended family.  Eric and his wonderful wife Carol, are the proud parents of three grown men, and have recently welcomed a new grandson into their lives.  Eric has taught me that nothing is more important than family and that while occasionally life will throw you a curveball, “it is what it is”,  you deal with it , and address it head on.  He has also taught me that the people you work with are family as well.  I have gotten to know many of the staff members at FCSSC, who have been hired, trained and mentored by Eric.  They all have the passion for community, the drive to help and the dedication to others that has kept the lights on.  That comes from the example that Eric has set every day.

As we have located a successor to Eric, we looked for someone who had the qualities that can continue to create a family culture at FCSSC.  During the interview process, Eric had continually reminded us the importance of keeping the culture that he and his staff have created over the years. It is one where we strive to help our friends, neighbors and family members who need our help.

Eric’s last day as Executive Director will be September 9, 2016.  He will remain at the agency part time as a clinician, continuing to give back to the community.  Please help me congratulate Eric on this wonderful milestone in his family’s life.

Jul 12

AmazonSmile

SMILE
Are you an Amazon Shopper? Why not help Family & Community Services of Somerset County and shop at the same time!

Amazon is one of the most widely used websites in the world and provides nonprofit organizations a way to earn additional support and a way to give through their program AmazonSmile. Amazon has donated over $192,000 to other charities and is now helping FCS!

AmazonSmile allows customers to donate to a chosen charity of their choice with no extra cost and provides the same shopping experience we are all used to on Amazon, including the same products and prices. By using AmazonSmile 0.5% of the price of eligible purchases is donated to FCS once you register.

In order to help FCS provide support to our Somerset community, you must simply select Family & Community Services of Somerset County as your charity of choice by visiting our link here

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Customers cannot make direct monetary donations to FCS through AmazonSmile but  if you are interested in making a direct donation visit the donations page on our website by using Paypal or a credit card.

Don’t forget to change your Amazon bookmark to smile.amazon.com and tell your friends and family by sharing this information by word of mouth and your various social media channels!

Feb 16

Executive Directors Message

Eric 2012It was 20 years ago that I completed my first year as Executive Director of
Family and Community Services after many years of being a clinician and supervisor for the agency. I remember at the time a great deal of ambivalence about taking on this position. There has certainly been a great deal of challenges during this period but also a great deal of rewards.

It is only fitting that the past year (my 20th) can be described very similarly to my description of the total time period. Times for small non-profits have been very difficult and our agency, like others, has had to confront many obstacles recently. However, due to a team of very dedicated and skilled staff and Board members, we continue to make adjustments and accomplish some ambitious goals.

The highlights of the past year include:

  • Program outcomes and client feedback was better than ever
  • We hired several new part-time fee for service staff as well as two other part-time staff members who have made key contributions to the agency’s growth in the past year.
  • We began to recruit some new valuable Board members as well as volunteers.
  • We were actually able to increase the levels of service in our professional counseling services despite continued economically driven funding decreases. We increased our client fee revenues very significantly.
  • We began to implement changes that resulted from our Mental Health and Addictions Program Licensure reviews.
  • We increased our fundraising activities and fundraising event revenues.

I feel especially grateful to Howard Hessel who has been a tremendous President of the Board over the past few years. He has done so much to contribute to the agency’s success, to support my efforts as well as the staff, to motivate the Board. I am also extremely appreciative of my Staff Administrative team who remain so dedicated, effective and who continue to help create a very positive work environment which is one of the strengths of the agency. I am also so thankful to our great team of staff, Board Members, and volunteers who are being asked regularly to do more with less, yet who remain so committed to our critical cause.

Eric Harris LCSW
Executive Director