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You are here: Home Arts & Entertainment SFCS Begins Next 100 Years; Honors Scarsdale’s Sustainability “Dynamic Duo”
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SFCS Begins Next 100 Years; Honors Scarsdale’s Sustainability “Dynamic Duo”

michelleronHonorees Michelle Sterling and Ron SchulhofLast Thursday, Scarsdale Edgemont Family Counseling Service (SFCS) kicked off its next 100 years of serving the Scarsdale and Edgemont communities with the “Colors of the Community” benefit gala at the Scarsdale Golf Club.

The well-attended event provided an enjoyable opportunity to spend time with friends and neighbors, make new connections, and honor two of Scarsdale’s most hard-working volunteers, Ron Schulhof and Michelle Sterling.

One of the guests, Diane Greenwald, secretary of the Scarsdale Public Library Board of Directors, said, “This is one of the great annual celebrations in the Scarsdale community because we really value community connections, and SFCS is all about community connections.”

When asked about what SFCS means to Scarsdale, Scarsdale Mayor Marc Samwick stated, “It does remarkably important work in the community and contributes an enormous amount to efforts to support our residents.” He continued, “We are really thrilled to be here with them tonight to celebrate their success and raise money for the future. Our community is extremely generous and this is one of the best causes they can support.”

In presenting the SFCS Rising Star Award to honorees Schulhof and Sterling, Dara Gruenberg, last year’s recipient, best summarized everyone’s thoughts by stating, “SFCS provides critical support, counseling, and help to every segment of the population of Scarsdale, from our youngest to our most senior. Thank you to all the professionals and volunteers involved with this incredible organization for all you do for our communal well being.”

Sustainability Superstars
Often called “the dynamic duo” by former mayor, Dan Hochvert, Schulhof and Sterling were honored for their work in promoting a variety of sustainability efforts in Scarsdale Village, most notably in the areas of food scrap recycling, conversion to LED streetlights, and preservation of the village’s tree canopy.gala1

“Michelle and Ron are among Scarsdale’s most active community volunteers. Over the last five years, they have been instrumental in launching sustainability initiatives throughout the community, as well as the county,” said Gruenberg. “Because of them, Scarsdale has become the leader for communities in Westchester looking to launch their own food scrap and zero waste programs… They are tireless in not only setting up programs but in their support for the ongoing use of those initiatives… Their work is a true labor of love and Scarsdale is the beneficiary. Ron and Michelle, you have left your indelible mark on this community for generations to come… You have empowered us and shown us that we can all make a difference in the smallest ways individually but that collectively we can have a monumental impact.“

Gruenberg then provided some details to illustrate the pair’s true influence. Currently, 1000 households in Scarsdale participate in food scrap recycling and 15 other towns in Westchester have launched their own programs. Scarsdale’s sanitation department collect over five tons of food waste each week, and since beginning the food scrap program, the village has collected over 600,000 pounds of food waste that would have either been burned or deposited in a landfill.

In accepting her award, Sterling said, “First, I’d like to say thank you to Scarsdale Edgemont Family Services for the honor of this award, and more importantly, for the work that you do. We’re all so lucky to have a resource that helps both adults and kids in our community navigate life.” She went on, “Words cannot express how thankful I am to my family… I’ve been working full time on sustainability initiatives since 2011, which means that, over the last eight years, my family has listened to me talking, ad nauseam, about composting, trash, recycling, bins, more bins, signage of all types, LED light bulbs, solar panels, and, of course, doing things like testing out composting bins for months on end… The toughest has been having my family share me with my work… One thing I really do hope, though, is that my kids see the importance of not just talking about a problem, or talking about what you would like to happen, but doing something about it and making the change happen. Talk is nice, but only doing will change the world.”gala2

“I have to thank my partner in all things sustainable, Ron Schulhof, without whom I would not be standing here today. What we have accomplished together has been nothing short of exponential and extraordinary… I can’t say enough good things about Ron, and even that is an understatement… Ron, you’ve been a great partner… thank you for being who you are.”

Schulhof followed and stated, “It’s such an honor to be up here and even more special because I get to share this with Michelle… I first must thank my wife Rachel, and my sons, Andrew and Zachary, who support every activity and project that we undertake, and are always willing to help when needed... They’ve been standing with us at recycling bins... driving around at night, looking at street lights, and are always happy to beta test a new program.” He continued, “We have an amazing community and it’s such a fantastic experience to work with so many great people, many of whom I see in this room here tonight.” In speaking about Sterling, Schulhof said, “Every project we work on together is easier because she’s there. It’s more fun because she’s there. And, it’s always much more successful because she’s there. We worked on so many great initiatives and so closely over the last five years, it’s difficult to remember what it’s like to work on a project without Michelle. I simply can’t put into words how great it is to work with my friend and my colleague and how excited I am for all the future projects we’ll work on together.

Thank you again to Scarsdale Edgemont Family Services… for all that you do for this community every day. Everyone in this room and throughout the community benefits from the work of this organization, whether it’s helping children, parents with kids in the schools, or someone (else) in the community who needs support… I’m honored to be here tonight.”

After the awards presentation, the crowd then was entertained by performance speed painter Tim Decker, who created three portraits of cultural icons in a matter of minutes. Decker combined music, art, and humor to paint large-scale images of Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, and the Statue of Liberty, which were auctioned and purchased by three guests later in the evening.

SFCS’ Impact
Although SFCS has a large and loyal group of supporters, surprisingly, many of our residents still don’t know its true value and scope of services. Despite its name, it’s not merely a counseling service; rather, it is an active player in helping local individuals and families to address their daily challenges and transitions. By partnering with the school district, police department, village government, and houses of worship, SFCS’s team members continually work to promote a healthy community. Odds are, at least one of its programs has impacted virtually every resident’s life in one way or another.gala4ML Perlman, Jay Genova, and Jane Veron

When discussing where SFCS is right now, Executive Director Jay Genova said, “As a 100-year old organization, we appreciate our history but know we have to stay current. We have to evolve.” He continued, “The agency is growing and expanding its services. When people ask us, ‘How are you doing?’ we say, ‘It’s busy… and that’s a good thing and it isn’t. It means, in some ways, that individuals and families are struggling... But, does it mean people are coming to our agency and we’re able to assist them? Yes.”

Indeed, SFCS is growing. When it closed 2015, the agency completed 980 family counseling sessions; at the end of 2018, it had completed nearly 2800. And, the organization, which recently earned national accreditation as a premier mental health counseling agency, has been able to keep up with and anticipate the community’s increasing needs. “Right now, we live in a time of great uncertainty – financial uncertainty, political uncertainty, social uncertainty – and that often leads to greater feelings of anxiety,” stated Genova. “In addition, living in a culture of affluence presents its own expectations, pressures, stresses, and other issues, that can add to that anxiety. For many, there is a constant need to keep going, keep working, and keep up while trying to maintain their lifestyles.”

SFCS’ mantra is that healthy families are the cornerstone of a healthy community. The agency identifies and manages the underlying causes for behavioral difficulties, anxiety, depression, and stress, through a family-systems approach that views
“people not just as individuals, but as part of a multi-generational system.” All of its programs stress that one person’s challenges affect all members of the family, and that family experiences and relationships affect each individual.

While many know about SFCS’ Youth Services Project, which places staff in the school community, the organization is much more, providing specialized programs to promote positive peer relationships and build social skills, bringing together parents to discuss issues affecting Scarsdale youth, attending to the ever-changing needs of older residents who wish to remain in their homes, and offering clinical services to those who need personalized assistance.gala5Speed painter Tim Decker

SFCS also plays an important leadership role in the Scarsdale Drug and Alcohol Task Force, working to reduce underage use of alcohol and illegal drugs, as well as the village’s SAFE Coalition, which raises awareness about violence and violence prevention in the community. Through these initiatives, the agency partners with parents, teachers and school administrators, village officials, clergy, and other mental health professionals to create positive change through awarness, understanding, and action.

As SFCS embarks on its next 100 years, Genova was asked about what his team is focusing on now. “We’d like to focus additional resources in preventing and treating addiction, not only to drugs and alcohol, but screen and video game addiction among teens and preteens. And, we are always concerned with having enough staff to anticipate and respond to all our clients’ needs. Above all, we want to be sure to be able to meet the needs of an evolving community.”

That also means attending to more practical, mundane infrastructure issues to keep up with a fast-paced digital age. To assist the agency with upgrading systems and improving efficiency, Assemblywoman Amy Paulin recently procured a grant to fund improvements to SFCS’ medical records system. As a nonprofit, SFCS is keenly aware of the need to control costs and maximize every dollar spent in supporting its mission. Over the past five years, it has been able to streamline operations and find savings, but still is reliant on community support.

Looking to the future also involves assessing where SFCS is now and what it does well. Genova reported, “I can comfortably say that we are excellent at treating not just the individual, but recognizing that he or she is part of a family unit, and addressing issues from the family perspective.” Another critical factor that sets SFCS apart from similar organizations is its role in the local landscape, and knowledge of daily issues and concerns facing residents. “We offer a real understanding of the unique perspective of people here, allowing us to connect with clients on a deeper level. The part we’re proud of is that we’re able to provide a quality, effective service at a reasonable price, specifically oriented to our Scarsdale and Edgemont communities.”

gala6Seth Ross and Marc Samwick speaking with guestsgala7

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