WJFF Interviews Debbie McGinness – Discusses Community Outreach Initiatives


Speaker 1 (00:00):

Oh my gosh. It went absolutely beautifully. It was our fifth community outreach dinner. It was on Tuesday, December 13th. We started at 4:30 and I think around three o’clock cars actually started to line up. It is such a phenomenal outreach. We love the ability to provide food to families that very possibly have a need and may be experiencing some level of food insecurity. We provided 468 meals to 117 families, so everything we provided to them was a serving for at least four. We also had $25 gift cards that were from ShopRite so they could do some additional shopping on us. We had a tremendous amount of local businesses that supported us with giving us discounts on the purchases of the food items that we were able to provide to families. But this is such a meaningful thing for us because we believe so strongly that we need to be a contributing member of our community in terms of really supporting health and wellness because we are healthier and stronger together. Response was wonderful. You have people’s kind, you know, comments in terms of how much that means to them and their family. We had Santa, elves, things for the kids. It was just a wonderful coming together, so we were thrilled with the outcome that evening.

Speaker 2 (01:26):

It definitely does sound like it was a special evening. You and New Hope have been very busy this past month. What can you tell us about this past month and what you’ve been up to?

Speaker 1 (01:35):

Yeah, we did a lot. In fact, I should also throw in that we have Kevin, who lives in one of our residences. He hand-knitted some scarves and put them into little bags and the first few lucky cars were able to actually get hand-knit scarves as well, which was really cool. But on December 14th, we actually had adopted 58 children for the purpose of gift purchasing. They make the little wish list and then we adopt 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 kids each whatever, and get all sorts of gifts and wrap them. We delivered them down to Head Start in Woodbourne and they had Santa there this past Tuesday, and all the kids were given their wrapped gifts. And that’s also a wonderful thing because we have so much fun feeling like kids have all these big wishes and are really hoping they can get something that we’re able to be sure they do get.

Speaker 1 (02:30):

And we have a wonderful relationship with Head Start and they do an incredible job with really nurturing up small children in our community. So that was fabulous. And on the 19th we also hosted an open house and we distributed monetary donations to Monticello Rotary Club, the Liberty Rotary Club, Sullivan County’s Federation for the Homeless, St. Andrews Episcopal Church Food Pantry, Sullivan County Head Start, and several of our first responder organizations. You know, it’s funny because I came here in 2018 and New Hope Community has always, I believe, had a reputation for giving back to the community. But when you recognize need, and in some areas it seems as if there’s been a growing or an increased level of need, we felt that we needed to step up and do even more. So, over the last four and a half years, that’s exactly what we’ve done. And I think it’s an incredible coming together of a neighbor to neighbor reaching out and saying, I see you, I hear you. I feel your need, and we’re going to participate in something that can help make life a bit better.

Speaker 2 (03:36):

Definitely and New Hope is right at the forefront of making that happen. I remember the holiday family drive through that I attended during the pandemic as a reporter, and it was such a, a great need that was met because we were still dealing with masks, we were still dealing with social distancing and New Hope was still able to help the community, but still stay safe and social distance by having the cars drive up to New Hope to pick up their, their holiday meals.

Speaker 1 (04:02):

Yeah, and you know, it’s really funny because the first two 18 and 19, we did it indoors and we also partnered with the Fallsburg Police, the PBA and, and did their toy giveaway with the children. And then when the pandemic hit, we were like, oh my gosh, how are we going to do this? We don’t want to give this up. And the drive-through now for 2021 and 22 has actually worked out beautifully and it’s kind of cool, isn’t it? When you have a crisis hit, what do they say? You know, necessity is the mother of invention. You have to get creative and this was just too important to put to the side. So, we’re really happy we’ve been able to continue with it.

Speaker 2 (04:38):

We gave a very brief overview of what New Hope Community is all about, but Debra, can you tell us in your own words what New Hope Community means and what services it provides?

Speaker 1 (04:49):

Okay, so that’s I love the opportunity at any point to share about New Hope Community. New Hope has been in existence since 1975. We’re a large not-for-profit organization. Our service sector is in what’s known as the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities. We really look to empower the lives of children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. So, we have 38 residential programs. We have Day Habilitation Without Walls and a day hab traditional program that has all sorts of meaningful activities woven into five days a week. We have New Hopes Farm, which is an organic farm on the Sullivan County Community College campus, which is a wonderful farm that many of our people that receive supports and services from us learn all sorts of things about farming and help grow and pick and distribute. We support food pantries. We support healthy veggie deliveries to our residences in the summer.

Speaker 1 (05:47):

We also work with the culinary program at the college. We’ve got a barn with horses and a riding program. We’ve got greenhouses where we grow microgreens. We do community habilitation. We have a division in Westchester County that works with about 500 people in Westchester, Rockland, and Putnam, and provides community-based supports and services and something known as self-direction. I think our goal here is what can we do to be very person-centered in listening to the people that have come to us to help enhance their lives and their opportunities and what can we create, offer, and make happen so that they have the most meaningful lives possible based in the highest level of health and wellness possible, which is obviously critically important to a person’s life experience. So, we have a lot going on here and we’re constantly growing and changing. But it’s very interesting because our staff, of which between Westchester County and Sullivan County, we have, oh, probably about 750 staff or more.

Speaker 1 (06:55):

And we are very much involved, obviously in supporting our communities in terms of living there, shopping there using all sorts of resources that are local to us and also being a part of other organizations, civic organizations, other not-for-profit organizations where we become part of the solution and provide efforts, roll up our sleeves, get in there and help make a difference in the areas where it is most needed. So that’s kind of, we’re sort of a neighbor-to-neighbor mentality. We want to weave together. We believe stronger together is what it’s all about, and we’re here to support that.

Speaker 2 (07:37):

And you mentioned Westchester, I understand that 2020 New Hope Community merged with Select Humans and Services in Pleasantville, New York, which is a nonprofit that services Westchester, Putnam and Rockland County. So that expanded the, the services that you provided and the staff. Is that correct?

Speaker 1 (07:54):

Yeah, that’s exactly correct. And the funny thing is, you know, life can be so serendipitous because my husband and I actually started Select Human Services in 2010, and it’s a very interesting story probably way too detailed for this particular interview, but I’ll say it’s amazing how life works out sometimes that I ended up having the opportunity to come here as New Hope’s CEO and bring in Select Human Services first as an affiliate and then as a division in January of 2020. It’s a beautiful compliment. It expands our reach, it expands the diversification of services we’re able to provide in another part of the Hudson Valley region. So, it’s it became a beautiful combination and yeah, we’re, we, were very, very happy to bring them in and expand our family.

Speaker 2 (08:45):

Wow. You’ve done so much in 2022. What are you looking most forward to in the new year?

Speaker 1 (08:51):

Well, we have a lot of things that we are working on. I mean, we’re just bringing our sensory garden on our campus to completion. That’s been a project for the [inaudible] two or three years that did get a bit stalled out during COVID. So, we’re going to be really making good use of our sensory garden, which is just a beautiful, peaceful, therapeutic place with obviously celebrating our five senses. We’re going to be expanding some of the community programming and supports that we have. We’re talking about doing repair cafe at our building in Liberty where we are hoping to be able to work with our people to learn how to repair certain household items where we could open up a little shop for community members to come in free of charge and have repairs done, put on a pot of coffee, have a little mix and mingle.

Speaker 1 (09:45):

We’ve got a lot of ideas bumping around, but our goal here moving forward is to offer more choices to get incredibly more embedded in a meaningful way within the community. We just created a full-time Holistic Wellness Coordinator position here, and we are working to really extend holistic wellness opportunities to both our staff and to the people that we support so that they can catch a breath, have a good balance, be in a rhythm that works for them. Because as we all know, in the last couple of years, close to three years, life has been a challenge and I think people are stressed, people are tired, and we need to speak to that. So, we need to fuel up and nurture wellness and give everybody a moment to just catch their breath and get to a good place. We also are expanding our training opportunities here.

Speaker 1 (10:43):

We brought in another full-time Training Coordinator because education and being on the latest of what is going on and research and cutting-edge practices, that’s very important to us. So, we’ve we’ve got our work cut out for us. We’re also now finishing up a new strategic plan. Our five-year sitting strategic plan sunsets the end of this year, we’re moving forward with a three year plan that has a lot of exciting components in it, expanding IT, making better use of data and driving optimal outcomes by understanding performance key performance indicators. I mean, I could keep going, but as you can see, we’re, we’re busy.

Speaker 2 (11:23):

<Laugh>, <laugh>, a lot of stuff. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (11:26):

Yep. It really is our, our we got a lot going on, but we’re committed to it. And I will tell you that we’ve got a great group of worker bees. We are so passionate about our purpose. I think we’re really fortunate to be on a path that we feel makes such a positive difference to me and to us it’s lifting up humanity. And if that’s what life is, that’s what life is all about.

Speaker 2 (11:49):

Debra, for someone who’s listening to this and wants to help, wants to show their support for New Hope Community, where can they go? How can they get in contact with you to show their support?

Speaker 1 (12:01):

Well, you know, they could go into our website, www.newhopecommunity.org/and click the donate button. They could follow us on social media at NewHope1975. We have Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. They could always give a call directly to us. We have an Executive Director of our Foundation, Tom Burnham. He’s at our main number, 845-434-8300. He’s extension 223. They could call me at extension 229. We would love to hear from anybody that has any interest in joining us for any of our activities on a volunteer level, if there, there’s so many different ways they could support us. Of course. Monetary donations are always welcome. It’s, it’s fantastic we’re Medicaid funded and when we are able to build discretionary funding, it gives us some wonderful options where we can support summer camp for people that live with us and other things that don’t get reimbursed by Medicaid. So, I would encourage anyone to reach out with any thoughts, any ideas, love to hear from them. And we go from there.

Speaker 2 (13:10):

We were talking to the CEO of New Hope community, Debra McGinness about what happened this past year, this holiday, and what’s in store for next year. Debra, thank you so much for joining us on the local edition. Have a great holiday and a Happy New Year.

Speaker 1 (13:26):

Same to you. And it’s such a, it’s such a pleasure. I really appreciate this opportunity. Thank you

Speaker 2 (13:31):

For Radio Catskill. I’m Patricio Robayo.