Kelsey Vargas, L.M.S.W of Port Ewen joins the RUPCO staff as Program Services Supervisor and leads a staff of four who conduct direct case management at RUPCO via six offerings. Vargas, who joined the RUPCO team in April 2019, oversees all client outreach and community support to clients living at RUPCO properties or receiving services from RUPCO caseworkers. RUPCO’s five program services include:
HOPWA (Housing Opportunities for People with AIDs) assists families with housing support and connections to different supportive resources in Ulster and Dutchess Counties.
NYSHP (New York State Supportive Housing Program) connects one case manager with Stuyvesant residents and the supportive services they need; the case manager makes personal connections with each resident, many of which don’t have family or people to check in on them.
EAP (Emergency Assistance Program) provides security or back rent support payments to families to prevent homelessness. Families are not necessarily RUPCO clients or residents. Funding for that from United Way, The Bruderhof, and other sources. In 2018, RUPCO helped 48 families with nearly $50,000 to keep children and their parents housed. In 2019, 10 families have been helped so far.
STEPH (Solutions to End Homelessness Program) is similar to EAP, and provides housing and support to families experiencing homelessness with young children. This program ends in December 2019.
“We’re also in partnership with Bridges of New York in Newburgh at East End Apartments, a scattered site program for veterans, homeless, and at-risk youth,” notes Vargas. Bridges provides connections to support services that these populations need and are entitled to receive, but may not know it, services that can make life easier, less stressful. “My goal with program service is to grow the professional mental health services we provide, stronger community resources, stronger community partnerships, and wider professional mental health network that we can draw from. I support the mental health aspect, which will grow as we open up Energy Square and Landmark Place. Hudson Valley mental health services are not far-reaching and there is opportunity for RUPCO to provide that life-support right through our programs and residential living.”
“Kelsey is highly educated, but her people skills and ability to connect with those she is interacting with has most impressed me,” notes Sheila Kilpatrick, Vice President of Operations at RUPCO. “She is compassionate, caring, and conveys a sincere appreciation for the needs of our clients. She is exactly what RUPCO needs to help us grow our support services programming.”
Vargas comes to RUPCO as a bi-lingual clinical social worker by trade. By education, she received her undergraduate degree from Quinnipiac College and completed her Masters of Social Work at University of Pennsylvania. “My license allows me latitude in making resident recommendations,” notes Vargas. “If I see a client needs additional assistance, I can refer that resident to the health professional needed.” Many residents are elderly, disabled, veterans, at-risk youth, or have a substance abuse or mental health diagnosis.
“I’ve always been interested in working with minority demographics, education access; health access to programs inspires me,” she continues. “Take a minute to think of mental health and home: if you don’t have a home, you can’t focus on any other aspect of your life. If you worry about where you are laying your head every night, you aren’t able to focus on your wellness, your medications. Your security is at risk, things don’t have a place. Once you’re situated, you’re home, you’re safe. Once housed, we can work with residents to address their routines, give life meaning, and set goals for integrating with family and our community.“
Recently married and Harry Potter fan, Vargas lives in Port Ewen with her husband and two dogs, Hagrid and Minerva.