Shana’s Story

I have been challenged with addiction for 10 years, and have been in and out of outpatient treatment and detox several times – but I would always relapse.

When I arrived at Morning Star, I was at the lowest point in my life. Things were spiraling out of control. My four children had been taken from me and placed in foster care with a family member. And then I learned that I was 5 months pregnant.

I arrived with the worst attitude in the world. I was just so angry all the time. But at Morning Star, I started to reflect and gain clarity. I realized that I was hurt and angry with myself. And that’s when the healing began. Everything had been a fight up to that point. But I had nowhere to run – I had to face my problems.

Morning Star helped save my life. They never gave up on me.

Every interaction with my counselor and every staff member helped prepare me to re-enter the world clean and ready to thrive.

I attended treatment 5 days a week, attended a medical assistant program, and became certified in a workforce development program for nontraditional roles for women. And I learned that I am worth it! From now on, I show up, set up, and remain teachable.

When my baby, Liliana, was born, I can’t express how much the onsite child care at Morning Star II helped in my recovery. It made it possible for me to go to treatment, attend school, and focus on me. The structure kept me accountable for being a parent and prepared e for the real world.

I knew I was finally on a path to a better life when I left Morning Star. The court saw the improvements in me, too, and my children came back home to me. I never thought that would happen. Today, thanks to Morning Star, I have a home and my family lives under one roof.

I still visit the program to let them know of my progress. My goal is to be fully self-supported. I know there will be obstacles ahead of me. But I am prepared to take it one day at a time.

History

SCO Family of Services has responded to the needs of vulnerable New Yorkers for more than a century. It all began in 1895, when a group of wealthy women established the Country Home for Convalescent Babies in Upstate New York. The Country Home admitted “sick and suffering small children, whom hardly anyone else can take” after they were released from the hospital following an acute illness, and before they were returned home to their families. The children recuperated at the home for several weeks.

Two years later, a new home was built on 14 acres in Sea Cliff, Long Island. The Bakers, Carnegies, Morgans, Phipps and Whitneys, in addition to many other prominent New York families, supported the facility. During World War II, the Home closed briefly and then reopened in 1947 under the auspices of the Diocese of Brooklyn, when it was renamed St. Christopher’s Home.

In 1967, Foster Home Program begins; the first home is licensed.

In 1978, Center for Family Life opened in Sunset Park, Brooklyn to promote positive outcomes for children, adults and families through a comprehensive range of neighborhood-based family and social services.

In 1985, St. Christopher’s Home merged with the Briarwood, Queens-based Ottilie Home for Children, which cares for adolescents with serious emotional needs and developmental disabilities. Originally known as the Ottilie Orphan Home, it was named after Ottilie Seibert, a young woman who died of pneumonia, leaving behind two young children. Ottilie’s father, John Miller, founded the orphanage in 1892 as a memorial to his only child.  The merger between St. Christopher’s Home and Ottilie resulted in St. Christopher-Ottilie.

A second merger took place in 1996 with Madonna Heights Services in Dix Hills, Long Island. Madonna Heights serves adolescent girls recovering from trauma and/or struggling with behavioral health issues, as well as women coping with domestic violence, battling addiction, and/or in need of temporary shelter.

In 1999, St. Christopher-Ottilie merged with Family Dynamics, an organization in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn dedicated to improving the lives of children by strengthening families struggling with poverty, abuse, teen pregnancy and drug addiction.

As a reflection of the tremendous growth in the scope and range of our services, we changed our name from St. Christopher-Ottilie to SCO Family of Services in December, 2004.

Today, SCO Family of Services provides a comprehensive array of services to children and families throughout New York City and Long Island, helping 55,000 vulnerable New Yorkers to meet critical needs and build a strong foundation for their future.

In the fall of 2012, we opened eight Close to Home residences for court-involved youth in Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx as part of a citywide juvenile justice reform effort. About the same time, we opened three new Early Childhood Centers in Corona, Queens and Brownsville, Brooklyn through the NYC EarlyLearn initiative.

We responded immediately after Hurricane Sandy to help hundreds of families affected by the storm, providing case management in Far Rockaway, Queens and in New York City hotels where displaced families were housed.

In January 2013, we were awarded a grant by the NYC Council to expand the Center for Family Life’s successful worker cooperative program.

In the months and years ahead we will continue to meet new challenges and respond to emerging needs as we help children, individuals and families build a strong foundation for the future.

Shana’s Story

Morning Star residential recovery

Morning Star helped save my life. They never gave up on me. Learn More

Nicholas

Support for individuals with special needs

“The confidence Nick has grown in the short time he’s been at the group home is amazing." Learn More

Last year,

97%

of children in our early education centers met or exceeded national mathematics performance standards

We help

2,500

people with special needs develop skills to reach their full potential