The RadioRotary co-hosts interview Jody Miller, Executive Director of the Mediation Center of Dutchess Country, and Registered Nurse Carolynn Frankell, who, along with Lindsey Goldstein, chairs the third annual Anti-Bullying Walkathon. Since 1981 New York State has had a program of Alternative Dispute Resolution, which includes mediation and arbitration, with centers in every county. Mediation is a process that helps people talk about decisions and resolve conflicts. Volunteers do most of the mediation after training. The center handles small claims, landlord-tenant issues, consumer issues, divorces, caregiving problems, and workplace disputes. The Center also works with other agencies on issues such as elder abuse and bullying, a problem in many schools. Its serves can be free but some require fee payments, and mediated agreements are enforceable by the courts.
Linda Marston-Reid, Executive Director of Art Mid-Hudson (formerly The Dutchess Country Arts Council), and Paul Tesoro, Chairperson of the Board, discuss the many ways that Arts Mid-Hudson re-grants New York State funds and local donations to local artists in Dutchess, Ulster, and Orange counties. Grants aid visual arts, theater, arts education, music, performances of the written word, and community events. All grant proposals receive a peer review, which is helpful even to projects that do not get funded. The proposals supported also become one of the reasons for visitors to come to the Mid-Hudson region, where the arts are among the attractions.
A couple of years ago Krista Jones from Hopewell Junction, NY, experienced the death of a good friend from cancer and the realization that four other mothers she knew also had cancer. Krista had been helping her friend, who had three children, by leaving food at her door. She recognized that cancer was sapping the energy and budgets of all these mothers, which led her to found Sparrow’s Nest, dedicated to providing two trays of homemade food each week to the suffering families. Although in the beginning Krista used her own money to set up the charitable organization, she now relies on many donors to provide the expense of serving 15 to 18 moms each week and to expand the operation. For now, Krista herself does all the cooking herself, although volunteers help deliver the food.
Jeffery Fox, executive director of Abilities First, and Serene Morrero, director of development, describe this Dutchess-County-based program that serves all developmentally disabled children and adults. The organization has thirty different facilities in Dutchess County, which began with its original “Little Red Schoolhouse” in Poughkeepsie, and now goes from preschool to adult services. Since then, the emphasis in helping the developmentally disabled–who may be on the autism spectrum, have down syndrome , or suffer other forms of intellectual disability–has often been on “mainstreaming” students into regular classrooms, but Abilities First helps handle students not able to be integrated into ordinary schoolrooms. At the adult level, Abilities First provides help with ways to use community resources and currently aids sixty who have regular employment as well as those who are not able to work.