Students Raise Funds, Change the Lives of Disadvantaged Families

Middle-schoolers' Donation Helps Families Who Can't Afford Therapy

April 29, 2002

When a group of Pittsford Middle School students learned of disadvantaged families who couldn't afford bus fare to get to family-therapy sessions, let alone the cost of the therapy itself, they decided they wanted to help.

Their efforts have led to an inspiring example of children helping other children. The money they raised enables families to receive therapy, where they learn coping skills to solve their problems as a family. Without the donations, these families would not have been able to seek this kind of help.

The therapy was provided through Strong Family Therapy Services (SFTS) at the University of Rochester Medical Center, where a luncheon for faculty and staff of SFTS is being hosted by the clinic's advisory council at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, April 30, in Helen Wood Hall on Crittenden Blvd. Advisory Council chairwoman J. K. Nsaa and the clinic's director, Jenny Speice, Ph.D., will honor two of the students who helped improve the lives of families they don't even know. Members of the media are invited to attend the luncheon to speak with the students who donated time and money to the cause.

Strong Family Therapy Services, which is open to anyone in the community, helps people dealing with depression, substance abuse, grief and loss, domestic violence, chronic and terminal medical problems and the angst of anticipatory loss. The therapists often work with parent-child problems, infidelity, the impact of elder care on families, and other issues that often confront family members.

"The middle-school students could understand that the families needed help because every teenager growing up faces conflict and difficulties," says Bob Cobbett, a member of the Strong Families/Strong Communities Advisory Council. "And they understood that help shouldn't be unavailable to families just because they can't afford it."

The students raised most of the money by producing and selling a calendar called "A Stroll Along the Canal." Students produced artwork of Pittsford landmarks for the calendar and sold it throughout the community. The contributions went into a Strong Families/Strong Communities fund used to help finance a sliding-fee schedule of payment.

Because Strong Family Therapy Services sees patients from all socioeconomic backgrounds, its therapists and Advisory Council members raise funds to support therapy sessions in many ways, including walks in the Special Olympics' Spike's Hike and sales of the Dine-A-Mate coupon book.

Strong Family Therapy Services, part of Family Programs in Strong Behavioral Health, is staffed by faculty who do research, teach and also provide therapy. Their approach is to involve families as well as individuals and couples in therapy, to work on improving relationships and solving problems in a constructive way.

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