In 1869, St. Vincent’s Services is founded as a home for young working boys—many of whom either had no family, or had families too poor to care for them. "Newsies" is inspired by the boys who live in the home.
66 Boerum Place opens as a foster home in 1906. Just 15 years later, 250 boys call this building home. Today, it remains the headquarters of HSVS.
In the 1940s, the boys of SVS started attending local schools, which better prepared them to become part of society. By the 1950s, SVS increased its professional staff and expanded its programs to include athletic teams and recreational activities.
In the 1960s, SVS opened its first group home in Springfield Gardens, Queens, followed by a second in Bayside and a third in Corona. SVS also began accepting foster children and launched a vigorous effort to recruit and license foster families. St. Vincent’s Services expanded its academic initiatives, psychological services and foster support programs.
In the 1980s, SVS began focusing on foster care for boys and girls. By 1986, the agency was providing services for over 1,000 boys and girls in foster and group home care along with their families. An aftercare program offered continued support for older adolescents to help them transition to adulthood.
In response to the AIDS epidemic, SVS established the Positive Caring Services, which expanded over the years to support infants and youth living with HIV/AIDS and other medically fragile conditions, including spina bifida, cerebral palsy and autism.
In 1997, St. Vincent’s launched the American Dream Program (ADP), which has helped over 100 foster youth graduate from college and vocational schools since its inception. Unrelated, but also impactful, SVS opened its first licensed Outpatient Substance Abuse Program in 1999.
In 2014, St. Vincent’s Services affiliated with HeartShare Human Services of New York, which created the third largest children’s services provider in New York City. HeartShare St. Vincent’s Services (HSVS) empowers over 6,000 youth, individuals and families to overcome seemingly impossible challenges of family crises, addiction, mental illness and poverty.
Developed and led by Melody Centeno, LMSW, who herself grew up in foster case, our annual fashion show (which began in 2016) represents both a moment of transformation and celebration for our youth. Beyond a single event, this is a journey where our foster youth come together to face their challenges head-on, work through trauma, and uncover the confidence and belief that exists within each of them.
2019 marked two important milestones for HSVS: our American Dream Program reached 100 enrollees and our agency celebrated its 150th birthday. It allowed us a moment to reflect on the agency’s amazing history, but also marked the formal beginning of the next chapter.