Our Message on Recent Events read more

Our Message on Recent Events

June 1, 2020

Dear HSVS Community,

Our country is reeling from unimaginable pain. One week ago, we watched with horror as a white police officer held his knee on the neck of George Floyd as he pleaded for his life. On the heels of the tragic deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, so many Americans are angry, sad and fearful. For people of color, especially Black Americans, these feelings go much deeper.

Racism and police brutality are not new. Thankfully, many Americans are saying enough is enough. As a country, city, and organization, we must find a way to stand together to make change.

At HSVS, we take action every single day to support and lift up underserved New Yorkers, including many Black New Yorkers who are disproportionately affected by poverty. We do this by creating access to education, employment services and health care, and securing permanent housing for children and families. We use whatever resources we have at our disposal to combat centuries of institutional and structural racism, and yet in times like this, it still feels like it’s not enough.

We are all processing this collective trauma in different ways based on our own personal experiences. At HSVS, we are desperately trying to find ways to do more to support our staff and our clients. We know many of you are scared—for yourselves, your children and our future. This is a time to come together and think about tangible ways we can support the members of our community who are hurting.

We’re undertaking several initiatives to foster that support. We held a virtual town hall with our staff and we have reinvigorated our Race Equity Committee to ensure that we are doing everything we can to fight racism and injustice on behalf of our staff and our clients.

There’s more work to do and more to come. In the meantime, please know you are all in my thoughts and prayers.

Dawn Saffayeh
Executive Director


March 20, 2020

Dear HSVS Community,

I’m writing to keep you abreast of how HSVS is responding to the coronavirus (COVID-19). During this very strange and difficult time, we are adjusting to the rapidly changing environment in order to continue to provide services to the vulnerable New Yorkers we care for.

Given the work we do every day, most of us are used to navigating crises. This feels very different, although I think the work we do prepares us for these times. The public health crisis we are experiencing is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, which is why we have been taking serious measures to keep our clients and staff safe. That is our top priority.

We are committed to making sure our work moves forward with our clients and their basic needs are met, especially if they are quarantined and/or there is a confirmed COVID case in a home.

Here are the major changes to our operations for now:

  • Mental health services will implement telehealth so that services can be provided to clients securely.

  • All employees will move to telecommuting except those in 24-hour programs.

  • Written and telephonic communications are being delivered daily at the program VP/Director-level to staff as the guidance varies widely based on the program requirements and is changing rapidly.

  • Departments are developing written modified duties and schedules for work hours for all their employees based on the rapidly changing guidance from our State and City regulators specific to each program to ensure we are following rules and keeping clients safe and cared for.

It’s clear that there will be months of hard times ahead. Our goal is to get through the immediate crisis and also for HSVS to emerge stronger as an organization, better equipped to help our clients in the years to come.

Please stay safe.

Dawn Saffayeh
Executive Director
HeartShare St. Vincent’s Services