Counting Her Blessings: MS Patient Assumes New Life, Housing Stability, Healthier Outlook

2017. A turbulent time for healthcare and other social services affected by the recent presidential election. Financial cuts in Planned Parenthood and PBS may disrupt access to birth control and public educational programs…which social sphere will be targeted next? Opposition to building or refurbishing new properties for the homeless and modest means communities— also known as NIMBY, or Not In My Backyard— separate populations by class and background. The relatively small population in favor of drawing a broad line between homeownership and assisted housing are misinformed of who and what affects property value; their efforts could indirectly affect housing and potential recipients of allocative services. People in need of affordable, safe housing could find themselves without an opportunity to receive housing assistance if there aren’t enough supporters to help make their dream a reality. Luckily, one determined woman with MS set out to make stability work for her, and she hopes the same for anyone else struggling.

Diana Hayes was a homeowner decades earlier when she realized her husband did not have the same outlook for the future or caregiving intentions for raising their son, James. She divorced her partner, took her son with her, and found a partner willing to work on a life together.

In spite of a new relationship, Diana was increasingly nervous and forgetful: symptoms of depression and an anxiety disorder. But she didn’t realize there was more to her behavior than psychological turmoil. Frustrated, Diana decided she didn’t want to live in Saugerties at The Mill anymore, and she wanted to be in Kingston where she felt more comfortable.

“So I got up and went to Kingston, and I had no idea where I was going but I ended up at my son’s house, Hayes recalls. “They put me in the hospital, because obviously I wasn’t thinking correctly, and I ended up in the psych ward. It was there that they realized I was taking four medicines for anxiety that were conflicting, and causing me to act up.”

The doctors explored her symptoms and discovered Multiple Sclerosis was the target stressor. Not good news. Although shaken during her intensive hospital visit, she mustered enough courage to re-evaluate her role in the world through a positive lens. “I’m not a person to be ashamed of what I’ve been through. Maybe there’s somebody out there that needs to hear this because they’re going through something similar and are looking down on themselves… Different things in this life happen to you. Everyone has different experiences, different ways that they deal with those experiences. It doesn’t make you a good or bad person. It’s choices you make that make you who you are today.”

Yet Diana didn’t know where she would end up after her hospital stay. While recovering from the crisis, she overheard another patient state a plan to go to Washington Manor after discharge. Unknowing of the institution, Diana told her doctors that’s where she wanted to go too.

Diana moved to Washington Manor and was fairly happy; she thought she was in communal residency, then an acquaintance told her that the manor was a homeless shelter. Diana was shocked. She knew she needed a place to get well, a home to manage her MS. A quick phone call to her partner Bobby, the truth was laid out, the couple reconciled.

Her husband’s emotional support was enough for Diana, but it didn’t bandage unpaid rent. Too many expenses added up and low income couldn’t cease the flow of bills. Foreclosure was near, and they needed another option, fast. The couple applied to apartment living in RUPCO’s Woodstock Commons in 2013, during the first wave of waitlist applications. Once accepted, the couple moved into a brand-new energy-efficient housing with amenities for the disabled. To complete the move, Bobby and Diana adopted Leo, a medium-sized, four-footed companion. New family, new house and more support, Diana and Bobby were set in a safe space with friendly neighbors, surrounded by nature and blocks away from the village.

Their new apartment at Woodstock Commons provided access to medical suppliers and grocery-store chains. Diana could manage her potentially life-threatening situation with emergency medical care close by. Equally important, she had community at her doorstep. She could walk outside and see children playing or strike up a conversation with neighbors. She is able to experience a wider and deeper approach to life, to appreciate grand gifts afforded by support services. “I love the different ages, different people who live here, all unique in their own way. I like to the gazebo, even though I’m not a smoker. I love to sit on the bench with Leo and watch the kids—it gives me great joy.”

Diana reflects on the intergenerational campus and the beauty around her. She’s thankful for the opportunity to appreciate what she is given, and wishes the world would take small steps towards humble living, to be in tune with priorities. “I didn’t realize before I got sick how blessed I was, and now I’m more blessed than ever. MS has taught me to appreciate things that are around me all day. I wasn’t living, I was just existing, because I wasn’t taking in any of the beauty that was around me. Now, it’s like, ‘Oh wow, the sun is shining, and look at the flowers and the bees’… I’m like a child.”

At RUPCO, we believe a trip to a psychiatric ward shouldn’t uproot a stable home life. A mental illness or physical disability (or both) shouldn’t keep someone from affording a safe, comfortable home. A sphere of health, happiness and well-being affects an individual and others close to them. Housing doesn’t just affect the one person directly involved, it is a communal experience that ripples out into the economic world and targets many people  through countless interactions. Helping people through assistance programs—like RUPCO—enable growth and productivity across the board, and lead to many happier, more stable lives.

Woodstock Commons Live-In Superintendent

The Superintendent reports directly to our Maintenance Supervisor, and is responsible for managing the day-to-day maintenance of the intergenerational affordable housing development known as Woodstock Commons located in Woodstock, New York. The Superintendent plays a key role in protecting, cleaning and maintaining the campus’ buildings and ensuring tenant safety and comfort. For many tenants, the Superintendent is RUPCO’s most visible representative. The Superintendent apartment is a roomy 2-bedroom apartment; the position includes  access to a company truck for work-related tasks. This is a full-time, 35+-hour/week, live-in position with duties which may include, but are not limited to.

Position Responsibilities: Conduct daily cleaning duties both inside and outside around the entire Woodstock Commons campus. Tasks ensure:

  • common areas are clean and in good repair; emergency exits and fixtures are in working order; snow, garbage, and recycling is removed from designated areas; elevators, lobbies, walls, and windows are clean; and floors are maintained (i.e. swept, mopped, buffed, vacuumed, and cleaned)
  • Conduct emergency repairs or services as needed.  
  • Manage and monitor grounds to ensure that they are properly and safely maintained. Conduct a walking tour around the campus on a regular basis (daily/weekly) to monitor aesthetics of tenant areas and common spaces. 
  • Maintain grounds. This includes: snow removal, plowing, clearing snow and ice from sidewalks and driveways; overall landscaping, picking up trash, cutting grass, raking leaves and tending gardens, weeding, planting, etc.
  • Perform a wide variety of general maintenance tasks such as small areas of drywall repair, painting, appliance repair/replacement, diagnose mechanical, plumbing, electrical problems and make repairs.
  • Liaison and manage vendor relations on various projects needed for work to be done outside of the scope of Superintendent’s ability.
  • Manage work order system to accomplish maintenance tasks. Accurate and timely completion of applicable reports (i.e. work orders, incident reports, etc.) Maintain maintenance files as required
  • Serve as first responder to emergency calls from tenants and alarm company
  • Maintain compliance with all federal, state and local regulations and other mandated guidelines and policies relevant to property management and operations including safety and quality assurance
  • Provide on-call, after-hours, and/or weekend duties as assigned

Required Knowledge, Skills, Education and Experience:  

  • Knowledge of maintenance operations in physical plant; ability to diagnose mechanical, plumbing, electrical problems and make repairs; ability to maintain a detailed record-keeping system and prepare correspondence relating to reports and inquiries
  • Experience with operating truck snow plow and landscape equipment helpful
  • Effective communication & interpersonal skills
  • Ability to work with diverse groups and to maintain harmonious relationships with supervisors, peers, subordinates and tenants
  • Be honest and have strong moral principles
  • Demonstrate good judgment
  • Physical condition that will permit activities including, but not limited to, heavy lifting (must be able to lift at least 50 pounds), bending, walking, climbing, pushing, stooping, and working under adverse temperatures and/or weather conditions
  • Ability to organize, work independently, delegate, and negotiate and problem solve
  • Must be caring and compassionate, but at the same time able to establish a strong presence to enforce policies related to the safety and security of the residence community
  • Have knowledge of, or willing to learn, EEOC, Fair Housing, OSHA, ADA and other applicable public laws
  • Computer literate
  • High school diploma or equivalent required
  • A minimum of 5 years hands-on maintenance or related experience
  • Ability to communicate effectively in English both orally and in writing
  • Must have valid driver’s license


  • 2-bedroom apartment
  • Hourly pay for 35-hour work week (with possibility of occasional additional, overtime hours)
  • Vacation, Sick, Personal time off plus holidays
  • Medical, dental and vision insurance available
  • 403b Retirement Savings with employer match
  • Use of company truck for work-related duties

To Apply:
RUPCO welcomes and encourages diversity in its workforce and all individuals are encouraged to apply. RUPCO is an equal opportunity employer (EOE). Please submit cover letter including salary requirement and resume by January 19, 2018 to:
289 Fair Street
Kingston NY 12401 

Kids’ Summer Programs

young white child experimenting with brightly colored paintsStarting July 1, RUPCO’s Program Services is offering two creative programs for resident children.

Lace Mill Kids is open to children ages 3-5 who live at the midtown Kingston community. Children will learn dance and rhythm in a fun and interactive way as a warm-up to activity each day. The group will create a “Lace Mill Kids” mural with different art mediums to commemorate the summer program. The program meets Tuesdays and Thursday from 10am to noon.

A second program, Woodstock Commons Kids, is geared towards children ages 5-13 who live at the intergenerational campus. Children will warm-up with basic acting skills and created a “Woodstock Commons Kids” mural with various materials and art supplies. This session meets from 2-5pm on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Summer Program Coordinator Jara Childs oversees both free programs which run for four weeks through the end of July. To register or for more information, email Program Services Supervisor Kim Mapes or call (845) 331-2140 ext. 307.

Avigayil Landsman

Headshot of Avigayil LandsmanThe featured pieces in my show are illustrations from my book, “Letters from Heaven: Spiritual Guidance from the Hewbrew Alphabet for Every Day of Your Life,” and card deck. The book offers information about each of the twenty-two Hebrew letters and includes twenty-three illustrations. The card deck includes the letter illustrations as well as brief informational cards. This project had been over a decade in the making. It required years of study, research, meditation, and huge doses of inspiration. And…a lot of editing! Illustrations came to me in fits and starts. I did the illustrations in various media and sizes. When drawing and painting failed me, I turned to wool, which I sculpted in low relief. The last piece I did was a free-standing wool sculpture.

Last year’s show featured most of the felted pieces. This year I have selected a few illustrations that I did in other media that include: colored pencil, crayon, pastel, watercolor marker and acrylic paint.

There is no specific reason for choosing the media I used. the imageA. Landsman 3one of Landsman's art work came to me and I was drawn to the media that would produce what was inside of me. I often waited for years to “see” how the letter wanted its “portrait” done. Most often I would see something in nature that would inspire me. Once the idea struck, I ran to my studio and set the image down in about twenty minutes. Occasionally I would redo the picture for reproduction purposes, as many pictures were done very lightly. Several illustrations were replaced because the first version did not fit in with the others stylistically. Although size and media varied greatly throughout the development of the project, there are many common aspects to all of the illustrations.

For more information on Avigayil and her art visit

A. Landsman half page flyer

No Compromise Needed

Headshot of Avigayil LandsmanCompromise requires that one or both parties give something up in order to get something in return; it is a win-lose situation. Unfortunately, we compromise daily, but one should never compromise on a home. When Avigayil Landsman was looking for a new home she expected to compromise on something considering she survived three floods in her last apartment, she figured she’d give up something. As a disabled artist, there were quite a few things that were necessary for her to live comfortably, things she couldn’t compromise. So, when the Woodstock Commons completed construction in 2013, Avigayil was one of the first to apply for an apartment and, much to her relief, one of the first to be accepted.

“It’s clean and affordable, it’s a healthy environment,” she states. It had what she needed most: privacy, proximity and accessibility. Three years later, Avigayil could not be happier. She appreciates the well thought-out flood system and on-site trash and recycling. “The maintenance staff is amazing here. If something goes wrong, it’s taken care of right away. Anything I’ve had to wait on doesn’t interfere with my life. Everything is up to code and in ship shape” commends Avigayil. The one person who seems to stand out the most for Avigayil is Ken Brown, the residential superintendent. “He’s a wonderful neighbor who’s really funny and very helpful,” says Avigayil, “Ken always leaves a smile on my face. He’s the guy I call when there’s a problem. He puts everyone at ease.” There is no greater comfort than knowing someone reliable has your back.

There are tons of other benefits that Avigayil gets to experience while being a part of the Woodstock Commons community. Unlike most apartment buildings, Avigayil is allowed one small pet to keep her company. She also has an in-house washer and dryer, saving her the time, money and travel of going to a laundromat. Best of all, Ms. Landsman is a short walk from town. “Driving is difficult for me, but now I can just take a walk down the lovely path RUPCO created with the sunflowers.” There are also various community building activities which she partakes in; all are offerings through RUPCO’s supportive housing programs. She attends the free acupuncture, participates in tai chi, consults with the monthly nutritionist, and enjoys the community gardening. She also displays her work publicly at RUPCO-hosted artist receptions for resident creators such as herself.

“Woodstock Commons is a little oasis for those of us lucky enough to get in,” says Avigayil. “Here at Woodstock Commons I don’t have to compromise on my comfort,” she states “I’m in my home all the time; home is my world. It’s where I create and it’s where I live.”


HeadshotEmily Lazo is RUPCO’s Editorial Assistant to Communications. She is a student at SUNY New Paltz double-majoring in English and Communication and Media with a concentration in Intercultural/Interpersonal.

Sasha Finlay

Finlay's depiction of a child“I am involved in many artistic endeavors such as Performing, Painting, and Print making. I have a MFA in New Genres from the San Francisco Art Institute and a BFA from the University of Arkansas in Painting. I have a background in Waldolf Education in teaching my art to students of many ages of the rainbow! My work is mostly paintings in acrylic on board or canvas and watercolors on paper. I have shown in many avenues from restaurants, libraries, cafes, stores, doctor offices, and galleries. My performances have appeared in many parks from San Francisco Bay Area to Central Park in New York City, also in clubs, and theaters.

This series is about the souls seen in the children who live in my neighborhood. Not all children are included, not on purpose, just as I saw them come and go.”

Sasha Finlay is an artist currently resising in the Woodstock Commons. Finlay’s artwork is “based around the human soul and how we interact with it.” This directly coincides with Finlay’s personal artist philosophy, which is “discovering the human soul”

Finlay’s artwork is also on display at White Griffin, Woodstock, NY or her website's Half-page-flyer


CooperLake-2015“I enjoy painting when the light plays on the surface of water, when trees, mountains and sky weave their forms with a lake or a stream. I am drawn by the movements of light and wind revealing a tapestry of colors on the waters. While painting I follow the rhythmical movement of the water. I paint as mapping time exploring the spaces of light. I paint the same streams and lakes, every season year after year. In this way I record the changes taking place in our environment. Following in the footsteps of the Hudson River Artists, I celebrate our environment and wish to preserve the beauty of our region.

I began painting the lakes of the Catskill Mountains in October 1980. It was then, for the first time in my adult life, I felt at home. In 1986 I made my home in these mountains. This is the place I love every day, in every season.”Mercedes Cecilia Flyer














Head Shot of Laura Katz“My career has been styling and designing wallpaper and textiles for home furnishings. For 25 years, I had my studio in Manhattan near Gramercy Park. The work was a perfect blend of art and commerce. It gave me the opportunity to work with museums and historical societies doing collections, both licensed and under my own name.

It was not until the late 90’s however, that I began to do Art for Art’s sake. I bought a 100-year-old farmhouse in Woodstock and began studying watercolor at the Woodstock School of Art (WSA). I took to it instinctively and found it to be the ideal medium for painting en plein air as I discovered the beauty of the Hudson Valley. Watercolor was also excellent for capturing locales and moments as I traveled. I studied portraiture and painted people, places and things locally and abroad.

Laura Katz's PaintingAs time went by, I began to feel constrained. Even though my style became looser, I could not get away from representational subjects. Drawing on my archive of historic prints and original designs, I started collaging. Experimentation led to a series that was more personal as I used patterns, ephemera and photographs from my own collections. The focus I had on the interior of rooms during my career, gave voice to a vocabulary evoking mood and feeling. Images projected on backgrounds of wallpaper awakened memories, dreams and reflections as experienced in personal spaces.

Laura Katz FlyerMy musings grew increasingly abstract and I realized that after a lifetime of “coloring inside the lines”, so to speak, I wanted to break out. Studying with Jenny Nelson (at WSA) opened up an entirely different way of working for me. Whereas I had always looked outside of myself for my inspiration, I now found a way to reverse the process. Rather than painting an image I see before me, I’m letting feelings from within emerge. It’s liberating to give shapes, lines and color free reign. They seem to have a dialogue and it’s a process of discovery to move from one area reacting to another until rhythm and composition reach a point of harmony. The canvas becomes layered as I scrape off areas and paint over things so that a history of surface is revealed.

I have not let go of my relationship with wallpaper. I am using fragments and fabrics on my canvas as part of the story. Mixed-media is providing an immediate means of expression. I think I have finally learned to color outside the lines.”

Barbara Schacker headshot “Although I majored in Fine Arts in college, my life path didn’t allow art to be my main career. In 1970, a piece of mine was included in the student section of the Venice Biennale.  However, I never really found my artistic path in college and so didn’t paint until several years later.  Instead, I became a librarian and learned how to play the fiddle. (I love books and music, too!)

Five years later, I moved to North San Juan, California—a sister town to Woodstock in the Sierra Nevada Mountains–and found my true teacher, Jacquie Bellon, an extraordinary watercolor artist. I would not be an artist today if Jacquie hadn’t “saved” me.  With her Zen-like way of teaching, I first learned to slow down and really “see” what is right in front of me or then, to not just see, but to simply “feel” what I feel inside and let my imagination play it out in my own way.  The non-critical atmosphere was just what I needed to break free.  “Just doing this” allowed me to discover my own intrinsic aesthetic—my own look and feel.  In this show, you will see my fourth watercolor painting, “Verbena and Feverfew” from a small portion of Jacquie’s beautiful wild backyard overlooking the Yuba River canyon.

Lupine Meadow watercolor by Barbara SchackerMy style has developed over the years but is strongly tied to the place where I live. When I moved to Woodstock in 1995, everything changed.  I remember sitting down to blank paper and not having any idea what I wanted to paint.  I decided to just fill the space.  That first painting, “Ancient Mountain Portal” is in this show also.  It showed at WAAM and in an article in the Woodstock Times.  Living here, my painting has become more intuitive and emotional, ranging from moody semi-abstract to dreamlike realism.  Most of my landscapes are done from memory which forces me to “dream” the picture instead of doing it methodically.

Barbara-Schacker-art-exhibit-half-page-flyer500x758Yet, with all these changes and my eclectic tastes, one thing remains constant—my deep connection and passionate love of Nature. This show is a retrospective of my work in four mediums from the 70’s to the present.  It includes painting, mixed media, photography and sculpture.”