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Family Service of Morris County Celebrates Two Centuries of Service

Morristown-based organization began in 1813 as the Female Charitable Society.

We honor businesses and organizations have reached milestone years serving their communities. Year one. Year 10.

But, 200 years? That deserves a little more than just one event--that calls for a whole year of celebration.

On Sunday, Family Service of Morris County will kick off their celebrating 200 years serving the community with a "Bicentennial Salute to Our Founders," at The Presbyterian Church in Morristown. It's the first of at least three planned events throughout 2013. Others include an event in conjunction with the Mayo Performing Arts Center this fall and the 51st-annual FSMC ball, this year titled, "Bicentennial Ball," in April.

"We call it a bicentennial salute to our founders," said FSMC CEO Patrice Picard, noting the importance of volunteerism to the organization's mission. "It was the women who started it. And, volunteers still play a huge role in what we do."

One of those volunteers (of which there are about 400 serving varying roles), is Ann Stachenfeld, who has volunteered as a marketing and public relations coordinator with FSMC for five years. She said one of the big positives of the organization "has always been that it's very flexible. When they see a need for a program, a program gets developed to meet that need."

Stachenfeld cited programs post-9/11, for the families of parents lost in the tragedy, as well as a program developed in 2008 for the families of those in the military deployed overseas.

Flexibility in meeting the needs of a constantly changing population has been at the forefront of the organization, started in Morristown in 1813 as the Female Charitable Society. It began as a 17-member volunteer organization of Presbyterian Church in Morristown parishioners, which for its first 100 years exclusively served Morristown women and children in need.

While the organization began with service to the women and children left behind as men went off to fight during The War of 1812, by the turn of the 20th Century, needs had evolved. In 1913, for their centennial, the Female Charitable Society changed its name to the Bureau of Social Services and expanded its services to men, as well as to the entirety of Morris County.

The organization also began hiring professional, paid employees to deliver its social work. Today, what originally was a Morristown-exclusive female-only organization of 17 volunteers employs 100 professionals, with a fleet of about 400 volunteers, serving approximately 7,000 people a year throughout Morris County.

Picard said while FSMC has evolved, its original mission has not changed. "The focus is still on family, their individuals and making them stronger," she said. "As families got more complex, so did we."

With more seniors moving into care facilities, for example, about 40 percent of FSMC's services have moved toward that portion of the population. Also, a greater emphasis has been placed on providing mental health services to children, some as early as pre-school.

FSMC operates several facilities throughout Morris County, including in Succasunna, Morris Plains and Madison--including the Madison Day Care Center, which was set to close before they assumed operations. Much of their work also is performed in the field, at private homes, in schools and more.

"We bring the program to the community," said Pamela DeMassi, associate director of development. "We're in the schools, pre-schools. "We are bringing what we know into the community."

But, the year of celebration and recognition of FSMC's great milestone is not just about reflecting on the past two centuries. It's also with an eye toward the future, and an intention to continue evolving. 

"We see the need out there growing, so we would like to see our services grow to the meet the need," Picard said.

To learn more about Family Service of Morris County, visit its website.

Sam January 23, 2013 at 01:20 PM
They are awesome!!!

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