Family Service Association of Redlands History
Founded by Alfred Smiley during a public meeting called by the Minister’s Association. Smiley was elected as the first president and the original name of the agency was Associated Charities of Redlands. In its early years, Family Service had few paid staff; it was a membership program with members paying no less than 25 cents each month. Each member of the Associated Charities was a volunteer case worker, appointed a “visitor” by the Executive Committee, and went out into the community to attend to the ill and destitute. The board met weekly and cases were presented and the committee decided which cases to fund. From the very beginning the agency offered “a hand up, not just a hand out.”
The first employee, Mrs. Bertha Van de Carr was hired for the joint mission of acting as a “visiting missionary” to clients and collecting contributions from donors. She later became the organization’s first executive. She served the organization for 32 years.
Associated Charities became incorporated and the first office opened in Mrs. Vande Carr’s home at 18 East Fern Avenue.
The first visiting nurse was hired.
The organization received a bequest in the amount of $1,000; this was the beginning of our endowment fund. This fund, at the end of 2013 was valued at more than one million dollars.
The first Thanksgiving Baskets, as we know them today, were given.
The original building on the Lawton Street site was built for The House of Neighborly Service as part of a state-wide program started by the Presbyterian Church.
The visiting nurse was seeing 250-300 cases per month.
Mrs. Van de Carr retired and Miss Dorothy Freeman was hired as the new Executive Secretary.
The Christmas Shop was formally organized and coordinated by volunteers.
Mrs. Viola Hesser became Executive Secretary and dealt with the many problems that came with the war years.
Redlands Chamber of Commerce began plans to form a City Council of Social Agencies. In October this group became known as the Community Chest. In the 1970’s, Community Chest became The United Way.
Associated Charities changed its name to Family Service Association to reflect the social service nature of the work done by the agency. Mrs. Hesser retired and Lucille Older was hired to become the 4th Director.
After 50 years of service, the visiting nurse program was cancelled when State certification requirements changed.
1968 - 1969
A full-time office secretary (Beulah Payne) was hired and FSA started a counseling service during this time. At one time, Family Service had four counselors on staff. The counseling service continued until the early 90’s, when FSA made the decision to contract with Christian Counseling Service – a partnership that continues today.
Family Service asked the Community Chest for permission to have a drive for additional funds. This first FSA campaign letter brought in $6,000.
Lucille Older, now Lucille Martin, retired and after a couple months with Ardis Enright as director, Family Service hired Betty Figueroa to run the agency. She was the sixth director and the first bi-lingual staff member.
Board President, Rev. John Inglis (Pastor of Redlands’ First Presbyterian Church), along with Board members Dorothy Gerrard and Gene MacIntyre, presided over the sale of the Vine St. building and the move to and rehabilitation of a building at 402 W. Colton Ave., a building that originally housed the Hope Protestant Reformed Church. This allowed the organization to double the number of clients served.
When Betty Figueroa retired, former board member Beverly Sanderson served as interim director for a few months before Bobie Tanley served as the eighth director for a couple of months.
Amy Casil left United way and became the ninth director of FSA. With her familiarity with Redlands, Amy worked on finding a place to teach people to help themselves. She applied for grants and networked with other local agencies.
The Presbytery of Riverside, who had run the House of Neighborly Services program and owned the Lawton Street property, agreed to lease it to Family Service for $1.00 a year.
Cheryl Heesen retires as Executive Director after 16 years of service. Kyra Stewart becomes the 11th Executive Director in the agency’s history.
Summer Nutrition Program began. In partnership with the Department of Education, Family Service began offering healthy lunches to local school children who received free lunch during the school year.
The Yucaipa Outreach Program office opened. Partnership with the city of Yucaipa and Redlands Community Hospital was key to making this a reality.