By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury/Hudson – Hudson resident Terry Cassidy has been hired as the new executive director of Shrewsbury Youth and Family Services (SYFS), a nonprofit social service agency. She brings to the position her clinical expertise and 15 years of executive leadership in nonprofit administration. A licensed independent clinical social worker, Cassidy received her bachelor's degree in social work from Salem State College and a master's degree from Boston University.
Cassidy got the chance to learn whether she's like social work at one of her first jobs.
“I was dragged in by a good friend of mine to work in a residential treatment facility for emotionally disturbed adolescents,” she recounted. “People who get into working in that sort of environment either love it or hate it. After two shifts, I knew that I loved it and this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. That put me on the trajectory of where I wanted to go.”
Until recently, Cassidy was the director of mental health and outpatient services at Casa Esperanza in Roxbury.
“When I first got to Casa Esperanza, they had just started the outpatient clinic and they wanted to achieve a lot of the things that I know how to do,” she said. “They needed to get national accreditation; they wanted to get a mental health license; and they wanted to start a structured outpatient addictions program, which is a half-day group with intensive treatment. We got all those things achieved. Now they want to continue to expand.”
But now, Cassidy no longer wants to drive from Hudson to Roxbury and back each workday.
“It's a tough commute,” she said with a sigh. “I worked my hours around the traffic, but then I's get home at seven or eight at night, sometimes nine. Then you can's go for a walk or anything at that point. I's so excited that I can go to Shrewsbury in 17 minutes.”
Though the commute was grueling, the experience of working at Casa Esperanza prompted rewarding recollections for Cassidy.
“My favorite memory is last year when we had a program graduation,” she said. “We had a big ceremony with lots of Boston politicians and the media. The clients were so proud. For some of them, it was the first time they's ever graduated from anything. They were all dressed up and they brought their families from everywhere to watch. They were beaming with excitement.”
Prior to Casa Esperanza, Cassidy was the vice president of behavioral health at the Union Mission in Savannah, Ga.
“That clinic served 300 people a day; we had intake all day long,” she said. “Then at night, we did family violence intervention programs and served probably close to 11,000 people a year through family violence.”
Union Mission is a nonprofit corporation focusing on reducing and eliminating homelessness in the greater Savannah area with its residential, educational and counseling programs.
“Homelessness touches a lot of lives,” Cassidy noted. “It's a ripple effect as to how many people it touches.”
Also in Georgia, she was the director of clinical services at Bethesda Home for Boys (renamed Bethesda Academy in 2011), and director of residential programs at Greenbriar Children's Center, Inc.
Cassidy expects both similarities and difference between her previous work and her new role at SYFS.
“I imagine there will be some differences as far as the critical needs area,” she said, “but as far as universal feelings, it's all the same. I's very impressed with how involved the entire town is with this agency. I's looking forward to getting to know the community.”
For information about SYFS, visit syfs-ma.org.