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The Astor Blog

Making and Enjoying Hudson Valley Fare at Home

Laura Pensiero is the founder, owner and creative force behind Gigi Hudson Valley (Gigi Trattoria and Gigi Catering.)

Laura Pensiero, the founder, owner, and creative force behind Gigi Hudson Valley, is a constant reminder that healthy food does not equate to less tasty food. Read more about Gigi Hudson Valley and their relationship to Astor in our blog and in the upcoming issue of Astor Family Magazine.

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Early Childhood Programs Help Families Blossom

Jeniffer Rivera playing in the sandbox early last summer after attending school.

Jeniffer Rivera is just one child who has had a positive experience with Astor’s Early Childhood Programs. A year and a half ago, Jeniffer was introduced to Astor’s programs through the home-based component of our Early Head Start Program. The … Read more »

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Holiday Message from the Executive Director

Shawn, a student at the Astor Learning Center, hangs out with Santa this holiday season.

While for most of us, the holiday season is filled with lots of joy and wonder, some of our children have never experienced the true joy of having a loving, caring adult in their lives. And most are from families that struggle to put food on the table not only during the holiday season, but throughout the year.

My hope is that when our kids look back on their lives, they do not focus on the trauma and the challenges, but the beauty they’ve experienced! … Read more »

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Mugs for Sale

Isaiah and Jaden are using an extruder to form the clay.

Ceramic mugs made by the children in the Residential Programs were featured during the St. Nick’s Holiday Craft Fair. At the end of eight weeks, over 40 mugs were handcrafted.

“The children imagine someone they don’t even know enjoying their coffee or cocoa in it later on, so they put a lot of heart into each one.”… Read more »

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Pet Therapy Incorporated at Astor

Lina and kids

For eight years now, volunteer, Pat Cortese, and her Labrador retriever, Angelina, mostly known as Lina, have worked with the children at the Residence in Rhinebeck. Lina is a therapy dog who provides comfort and a sense of safety, and helps keep the children keep calm.

“It is such a rewarding experience. This is such a tiny thing that Lina and I do to help make the children feel good,” Cortese said. Read more »

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Magee Hickey – Continuing a Legacy of Giving

Photo by Joel Weisbrod.

Magee Hickey, the accomplished news reporter with decades of experience at major television networks, including, NBC and CBS, and most recently at PIX 11 and NY1 has chosen to follow in her parent’s footsteps by supporting Astor.

“I was always extremely proud of my parents,” says Hickey, who describes having parents like Larry and Jean as “winning the lottery.” She does not mean in terms of money, but in terms of having great parents who set wonderful examples for her and her siblings… Read more »

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The Ugly Stick

Griffin and his favorite fishing pole.

It’s not what you think.

Griffin showed us his Ugly Stick the other day with all the excitement only a kid can muster for an extruded piece of plastic. But in his hands it’s a wand to tame the Landsman Kill, lure the rainbows from their eddies and claim his small chunk of a Huckleberry Finn summer.

He told us about his love of fishing and the catch he had snared. And we realized he was telling us and showing us something we too often forget… Read more »

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Family Counseling When You Need It

Virginia Hayes Sibbison (1)

In 2013, over 1,400 families came in to our Mid-Hudson Valley Counseling Centers to receive assistance. They arrived with an array of challenges which afflict families during difficult times.

Astor’s team faces a tremendous challenge that they hope to overcome: opening the eyes of parents to the role stress plays in their lives and the lives of their children. Read more »

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Family Advocates Give Back to Astor


Lisa Flynn, a Family Advocate at Astor Services for Children & Families, recounts her experiences as both the caregiver of a child helped by Astor and her subsequent employment at Astor as a Family Advocate, where she can now help others as she and her family were helped before.

Now I get to work with struggling families and help them, the way I had been helped.  My experiences at Astor as both a client and an employee have been life changing.

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Supporting Children and Families’ Mental Health Year Round


For many families, facing ten weeks of summer with fewer supports and services for their children is a time of significant stress, because good educational programming for at-risk youth can sustain youth and family through times when a child’s behaviors are more challenging or more risky.

Let’s make every month in our communities a month that provides meaningful support so that children can be healthy, happy and productive, and families can receive the support they need to thrive. Read more »

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