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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.

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Annual Chili Fest: A Group Success

Thanks and heartfelt appreciation to everyone who supported the Annual Chili Fest this year that took place at the Residential Programs, in Rhinebeck on April 10th.

The children poured their creativity into crafting and glazing bowls for the sale. The staff came out to buy the handmade bowls and enjoy some home cooked chili…

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Astor’s Head Start Programs: Support Students in the Classroom!

This I have never understood:

How can anyone, anywhere not want to support a program that gives those who are most defenseless, who are without a voice, without a constituency, without a lobby, a chance?

Head Start works. By all the metrics it has an immediate effect on the kids. On IQ scores, academic achievement, crime, and poor health.

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What Really Prevents School Violence?

School communities are the most critical factor in the prevention of school violence.  The more inclusive and welcoming the school community, the more connected most youth in that community feel.  The more connected youth feel, the more likely it is that any youth contemplating violence will be revealed to caring adults early in the path toward an actual violent act.

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Giving Back – An Answer to Tragedy

Last week, JoAnne Bacon, a Newtown mom whose 6 year old daughter, Charlotte, was killed in the Newtown shootings one year ago today, asked that the caring citizens of our country mark this anniversary by practicing acts of kindness in our own communities.

In the communities that Astor serves, there are so many opportunities to act as an agent of hope for children who need your help.

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From Lava to Dating Alicia Keyes

Sure, it was in the spirit of the season and we could just as easily tell you he had learned the lesson of giving, but we think there was something else going on here. This child was giving back to Astor, telling us how important the school is to him. It was his humble way of saying thank you.

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Happy Thanksgiving!!

I was rather taken by something Laura Pensiero owner of Gigi’s Trattoria in Rhinebeck said the other day: “Food tastes better when it’s shared.” That goes right to the point of the Pilgrim holiday we’re about to celebrate.

And it goes right to the heart of all that they’re trying to accomplish with the annual Thanksgiving feast for the children and staff of Astor. When goodness, caring and warmth are shared, we are all the better for it.

Bringing together as they did last year, Laura will be donating a freshly cooked locally sourced turkey dinner with all the trimmings so that the children (and staff) who cannot be with their families this Thanksgiving can share in the abundance of the Hudson River Valley. And, we’ll be happily joined by Gigi’s supporter and partner, Sean Eldridge of Hudson River Ventures.

Sharing of course, is what Astor is all about. Sharing a healthy meal and …

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How to Help your Child Grieve

Over 20 years ago, I discussed theses seven steps of grieving in a book called “Bereavement: Counseling the Grieving throughout the Lifecycle” and while some are self-evident others require more explanation.

It is important to stress to a child what you keep after a death.

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Thank you. Gracias. Much appreciated. Grazie. Danke.

September 28th Employee Mixer at The Grandview in Poughkeepsie

We recognized employee milestones from five to forty years, and celebrated in a culture of value, appreciation… and gratitude.

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Astor Wind Chimes and the Changing of the Seasons

I can only imagine how its making, or rather how the entire arts program at Astor calms, soothes and encourages the children. It gives them a voice, rouses their creative spirit and ensures that the mission of Astor – that every child deserves a childhood – is fulfilled.

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Focusing on Children’s Strength Will Yield High Returns

Mental health treatment providers and educators must work collaboratively with children and families to identify their unique skills, talents and interests.

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Strive to Thrive: Train Your Toddler’s Brain, Part 3

Last fall, I wrote about self-regulation, the important “brain training” that is needed for children to be competent and confident.   Parents can help their babies develop this important skill with warm, responsive, and predictable parenting.  When your children are toddlers, you can continue to train their brains by developing your own calmness, telling your toddler what to expect, and teaching them how to behave.

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Sandy Hook Elementary School

As the images of the victims from Sandy Hook Elementary School are being broadcasted throughout our country, we are confronted with the reality that these children look so much like our own children. While we mourn the victims of Sandy Hook, let’s not forget that in many communities, the death of innocent children by gun violence happens way too often. This was the seventh mass murder in this country this year. Let’s not forget the past victims.  And most important, let’s act.

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Astor Memories: Connecting Our Past with Our Future

Do people my age self analyze their past and their future, while applying present circumstances, and ever feel completely satisfied?

Mr. Harry Brown

My answer is of course we do—constantly!
Personally, I find most things in my present and future connect to the past. Over time, I have experienced how these connections make themselves known, how as they unfold or envelope the present and reveal just who I am now.

I was only slightly aware of my self-worth at age eight, when I arrived at Astor, but I was quite aware of whom I was when I left! My youthful confusions gave way to education, my experiences secured my confidence, and my accomplishments validated my self-worth.

Keeping my emotions aside, I can connect each high and low stage to my past because I have always kept Astor as a touchstone in almost every moment of my best achievements and joy, as well as …

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Simple Ways to Keep the Holiday Season Fun and Stress-Free

The holiday season seems to start earlier every year!

This year, when I went to look for Halloween candy I saw some Christmas decorations at the supermarket!  And we all know that, when the season is here, we see images of happy, healthy, wealthy folks who seem to have it all together all the time.  But anyone who is raising kids knows…

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Astor Memories: How Astor Services Shaped My Working Life

The most influential and inspiring messages, with the greatest impact on my life, have always been something spoken quietly to me.Thinking back on the people and staff of Astor always made me wonder about their work and how I can now appreciate what they do. Out of these thoughts came ideas regarding good-works vs. work, career vs. job, calling vs. transitional employment.

Today, I am writing about my working life.

Although absolutely necessary, having and holding employment was never difficult to obtain and manage. Often I found it fun with so many choices. Eventually over my working lifetime I explored five long-term careers, working each of them for 1, 2, 11, 11 and  20 years, respectively. And in pursuit of these professions I did other work: I was a street sweeper, taxi driver, bartender, warehouseman, substitute teacher, roughneck, turkey farmhand, messenger, photographer, waiter, dishwasher, house painter, and a two-time on-screen film extra; I …

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Strive to Thrive: How to Train Your Toddler’s Brain, Part 2

Self-regulation, or the ability to choose behaviors that are right for the context a child is in, is very important and we can all help our kids get better and better at it as they grow up.

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An Astonishing Gift: Astor Memories from Harry Brown, Part II

A staffer drove me to my mother’s home for my first visit at Thanksgiving time. We traveled by train and sometimes Greyhound through Grand Central Station up to Boston. I eventually made the trips alone. I learned to love independent travel at this time­­–I have since traveled far and wide.

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Strive to Thrive: Building Confidence in Your Kids, Part I

Did you know that the roots of confidence and competence start when your child is just a baby? In my business, we call these roots “self-regulation,” which is a fancy way to say that a child (or adult) can be in charge of their own thinking, emotions, and behaviors.

By helping your kids develop the ability to be in charge of themselves in a healthy way, you can build their confidence in themselves and make them more likely to do well at home, in school, and with friends.  In short, YOU can TRAIN YOUR CHILD’S BRAIN.

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An Astonishing Gift: Christmas Memories from Harry Brown

One Christmas morning at Astor, I was opening gifts retrospectively, donations that included a baseball mitt, model car, model plane, paint by numbers, etc. Nice things! I opened yet another gift box and found an unbelievable treasure.

Inside this Christmas present was a book, a fountain pen and a Timex watch that glowed in the dark (the book remains my singular reminder of this moment in my life at Astor). Also there was a card with a very long letter written inside; my mother introduced me to my family!

 

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