POUGHKEEPSIE – On April 27, over 300 people attended the Family Services 2017 Family of the Year Awards Dinner at the Grandview in Poughkeepsie. For 30 years, Family Services has recognized local families who make significant contributions to the community and reflect the ideals of Family Services by providing hope, improving lives, and strengthening community. This year, two families were honored for their dedication to the Hudson Valley community.
Eleanor and Martin Charwat received the Lifetime Achievement Award for the extensive and influential ways in which they have enhanced the lives of those within our community.
The Williams Family were honored with the Quality of Life Award for the outstanding ways in which their business and philanthropic pursuits have improved the community.
Eleanor, a native of Poughkeepsie, was an Executive Director of Marist College’s School of Adult Education. She has helped hundreds of adult students achieve their dreams of new careers and job advancement through education. She has taught English to young people in Brazil, Thailand, Italy and Greece, and adult immigrants in Poughkeepsie. Eleanor has volunteered her time throughout the Hudson Valley— she has served in leadership roles with the League of Women Voters, the Eleanor Roosevelt Center at Val-Kill, the Poughkeepsie Public Library District and the Arlington Rotary Club. She has been on the board of the Oakwood Friends School, the Community Impact Council of United Way and the Publications Committee of the Dutchess County Historical Society.
Martin Charwat, currently an attorney and financial planner, was a USA Foreign Service Officer working throughout the world before arriving in Poughkeepsie. After returning to the States and graduating from law school, he joined a family law practice in Poughkeepsie. Martin has also been very involved in the Hudson Valley community, helping found and serve as the first president of the World Affairs Council of the Mid-Hudson Valley. He has held many other leadership roles in organizations including the Poughkeepsie Rotary Club, Vassar Temple, the Jewish Federation, and has served on the boards of the Bardavon 1860 Opera House, Oakwood Friends School and Dutchess Community College Foundation.
Owner of Williams Lumber & Home Centers, Sandy Williams, along with family members Kim and Kelly, believe that giving back to the community is a responsibility to be taken very seriously. Each year, through the family business, they proudly support the Children’s Miracle Network, St. Jude’s Hospital, the Boy Scouts of America, Little League, the American Heart and Cancer Association, the Chamber of Commerce, Northern Dutchess Hospital, the Rhinebeck Rotary Club, the ASPCA and many other worthy organizations.
Throughout the years, the Williams Family has been recognized for their professional achievements and service to the community. Sandy has received the ‘Lumber Person of the Year’ by the Northeastern Retail Lumberman’s Association and as ‘Dutchess County Person of the Year’ by the Poughkeepsie Journal. Kim has also been honored with the ‘Lumber Person of the Year’ and as one of Hudson Valley Magazine’s ‘Top Women In Business’. Kim currently serves on the Board of Directors of both Abilities First and Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley.
Williams Lumber & Home Centers was established in 1946 in Rhinebeck by Stan Williams, Sandy’s father. It now employs over 260 associates in 8 locations and is widely recognized for their high ethical business standards and continued support to the community.
Also at the event was a presentation by Chief Executive Officer Brian Doyle related to Family Services programs and services that provide hope to families, adults and children in our community. The program featured a video highlighting the Teen Resource Activity Center as well as emphasis on several key endeavors in which Family Services is engaged to support youth in the community. The Gun Involved Violence Education (GIVE) program is a collaboration with the City of Poughkeepsie Police Department to implement the Phoenix Curriculum, an evidence based program that successfully targets the risk and protective factors for gang and gun violence. In addition, Family Services will also be overhauling the gym at the Family Partnership Center in order to provide a safe, updated, versatile and respectful space for the youth of our community. This project, totaling over $560,000 is funded for $420,000 through the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Family Services will raise a match of $140,000 to ensure the renovations completion.
At the event, Doyle announced the launch of an important initiative to tackle the problem of Gun violence in the City of Poughkeepsie – SNUG. This evidence-based, street outreach program is based on the nationally known Cure Violence model which treats gun violence like a disease by identifying its causes and interrupting its transmission. Currently operating successfully in other communities throughout the State, the SNUG program will identify high risk individuals who engage in gun violence, addresses the issues that prompt them to use a gun, and let communities know how violence is spread and work to change attitudes that accept violence as a part of life. According to Doyle, our “focus is on prevention, keeping our kids safe, steering them toward a life of promise and making our community safer”.