Family Service Celebrates 110 Years Of Healing

A volunteer serves at FSRV.

by Carol Kirtley

In 1967 a young couple was struggling with money issues as well as a six-month old child and their relationship was falling apart.

“He yelled at me all the time. Nothing was right.  The baby cried all the time.  The doctor bills were going through the roof.  John worked hard but he couldn’t make enough to cover everything. He was always worried about money, money, money.  Nothing else seemed to matter to him,” said Jean.

Jean said her sister-in-law suggested Family Service and said that it might not cost a lot.

“At our first appointment John and I bickered while we got ready to go, while we drove there, while we waited in the reception and by the time we saw the counselor, we were both angry and belligerent. The counselor simply asked: ‘What’s going on with you?’ We both started talking at once and an argument started in seconds.”

“This wonderful man looked at us and smiled.  I’ll never forget that beautiful smile. I felt like he was on my side.”

After some initial discussions the counselor told the couple that he wanted to meet with them every other day for a week. “It cost us $2.50 for each session.  I remember that even that seemed like a lot of money.”

 Jean and her husband, John have been married “mostly happily,” for nearly 45 years and have two sons and five grandchildren.

Providing affordable services to individuals and families in crisis for more than 110 years, Family Service of Roanoke Valley has kept up with the needs of the community by expanding services when needed, including Adult Survivor, Anger Management / Group Therapy, Couple / Marriage / Family, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Domestic Violence, Drug Court, Employee Assistance, Faith Integrated Counseling, Individual Therapy, Play Therapy, TransParenting and VASAP.

Local attorney Olin Melchionna said that in the early 1980s, Family Service and asked him to provide guardian / conservator duties for an elderly woman who was being taken advantage of with her money.

“It worked out very well. I am impressed and appreciate the multi-faceted services they offer, especially the care and protection of the elderly.”

Olin said that when his father, a Roanoke physician, was about 75 he lived alone.

 “One day Dad and I were in his kitchen when the housekeeper who had been with his father for many years, told them she was retiring.

“Dad was old school.  He said: ‘Why, I can fix supper’.”

Olin said his Dad turned to him, pointed to the stove and said, “Do you know how to turn that thing on?”

“I knew we needed help.” Olin’s first thought was to give Family Service a call.

“Family Service came through when we needed them.  They were so nice to him. They were honest and easy to get along with.  It allowed Dad to stay in his home where he was happy.

One of the things that Olin appreciated the most was the fact that their need wasn’t ignored because they were not impoverished.

“Dad could afford to pay for the care he needed. We probably paid the same to Family Service as we would have to other providers but I knew they would have good people we could trust. It worked out perfectly.”

Family Service offers Care Management, Adults Plus Counseling, Guardianship Program, Home Care and Personal Affairs Management in its Older Adult Services Program.

Rebecca’s 17-year-old son was killed in a traffic accident in 2004 when he was driving home from college.

“I had a lot of trouble dealing with it. Family and friends were supportive but they weren’t enough.  I needed to find someone to help me. Someone who didn’t know me personally so I could talk freely. Rebecca said she called Family Service because she worked in Downtown Roanoke and their offices are located on Campbell Avenue.

 “Family Service has a lot of flexibility financially and it’s so important to work with a counselor that you can relate to.  They have a full staff and if it’s not a right fit you can change.

For anyone who has suffered a critical loss, Rebecca advises, “Seek out any resource you can.  Don’t suffer alone. Family Services was there for me.  I don’t forget . . .  But I can now deal with it.”

With over 110 years of service resulting in such stories of healing and compassion, Family Service of Roanoke Valley continues to reach out to the entire community regardless of economic, ethnic and cultural background.

To learn more visit them on the web at: or call 540-563-5316.

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