After 23 years of working with Family of New Paltz, Director Kathy Cartagena has decided to retire. The organization is currently in search of two people to replace her.
The advice she offers to those who will take her place is not to take the issues home and to remember that everyone has a choice.
“People have a choice of going in one direction or other, even if it’s not the one you think is best for them,” Cartagena said.
Cartagena said what she will miss most are all those who volunteer for the organization and that they have become like family.
“How do I reflect? It was multi-facetted, it went by quickly and it was very rewarding,” Cartagena said.
Family of New Paltz is located on 51 N. Chestnut Street and has two full-time employees and 25 volunteers. It primarily functions as a crisis intervention center and provides emergency short-term counseling, information and referral, case management, emergency food, and access to Adult Case Management, Adolescent, Domestic Violence, Child Care and Emergency Housing Services.
The organization offers additional services including a food pantry, free store with clothing, furniture and household items; public rest room, community bulletin board for employment opportunities, available housing, messages, workshops, classes and seminars, free public telephone for local calls and long distance in emergencies, client advocacy, emergency transportation, supervision of community service, work experience, work-study, internships, and court-mandated community service; and a meeting place for other community services.
Cartagena’s last day will be Friday, May 6. According to The New Paltz Times, she plans to continue to live in the village and remain on the Regatta Committee and the Affordable Housing Committee. She has already had a few job offers but said if she does anything it will be part-time although she does plan on staying involved with Family of New Paltz.
Prior to moving to New Paltz, Cartagena lived in the Bronx and owned and operated a wholesale and retail record store selling Latin music for 25 years with her husband Robert. Before Family of New Paltz she only had two years of experience working with human services.
Cartagena says she is very much looking forward to retirement and plans to spend her newly found extra time shopping and travelling. She also wanted to thank the community for their support and donations and expressed extreme gratitude.
Fellow Family of New Paltz employee and SUNY New Paltz 1963 alum Ruth Bean said that Cartagena was always very encouraging and always let the staff know that they were doing a good job. Bean also said the Cartagena was also always very compassionate to all clients and extremely hard-working.
“We’ll miss her friendly smile every day, even when it’s under a lot of pressure,” Bean said. “And just making us feel good.”