115th Anniversary

For 115 years, Family Service Association has been empowering, guiding, educating, counseling, motivating and strengthening individuals, families and targeted groups. Family Service has supported thousands of individuals and families by assisting them in finding solutions, healing, hope and redirection on their journeys of transformation.

Our story begins in 1903, when three business men and a small group of altruistic women launched a grass roots campaign to help the poor and the hungry. They could not have foreseen that their charitable mission, begun on a $5,000 budget, would endure and indeed thrive for more than a century. Originally called The Charity Association of San Antonio and Bexar County, that agency evolved to become Family Service Association of San Antonio, the city’s oldest human service agency.;xNLx;;xNLx;OUR MISSION: Empowering individuals and families to transform their lives and strengthen their community.;xNLx;;xNLx;Our Values: Excellence, Respect, Accountability, Integrity, Responsiveness.

1903-10-01 00:00:00

Beginning Our Journey

Three business men and a small group of altruistic women launched a grass roots campaign to help the poor and the hungry. They could not have foreseen that their charitable mission, begun on a $5,000 budget, would endure and indeed thrive for more than a century. Originally called The Charity Association of San Antonio and Bexar County, that agency evolved to become Family Service Association of San Antonio, the city’s oldest human service agency.

1906-01-01 00:00:00

The Seeds of a New Profession

Studying patterns of poverty and collaborating with President Theodore Roosevelt at the national level, the agency helped plant the seeds of social work as a new profession. In what would become a philosophy of forging community partnerships for the optimum benefit of clients, the agency centralized services with other benevolence groups to assist clients with relief, employment, transportation and medical care, and took on a new name to reflect the expansion: The Associated Charities of San Antonio and Bexar County.

1920-01-01 00:00:00

Laying Foundations

We helped organize and became charter members of the Community Chest, the predecessor of the United Fund and finally, United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County. With a budget of $22,000, assistance covered a full spectrum to relieve distresses attributed primarily to “Death, desertion and ill health of the breadwinner.” The guiding mantra, which still motivates the agency a century later, was stated as: “Our first wish always is to keep the home together.” The original variation of Adopt-A-Family was born in this decade, and flourishes still.

1930-01-01 00:00:00

Caught up in the Great Depression

Meeting the desperate needs of families affected by economic disaster posed a critical challenge as the crises escalated and resources diminished. In a drive to raise $60,000, the largest fund raiser in its history, the agency appealed to citizens promising, “91 cents of every dollar will be utilized for direct aid: to buy food, clothes, shoes, fuel and shelter; to provide crutches, medicine, stoves and bedding; to rehabilitate destitute, discouraged, desperate families; to give milk to starving babies and a chance in life to thousands of dependent children.”

1940-01-01 00:00:00

Family Casework Dawns

Social work evolved as a profession, gaining strength in numbers and unanimity of purpose, resulting in support for family casework, which was provided by the Community Chest. With these changes, our agency was renamed Family Welfare Association of San Antonio, Inc., reflecting its new service direction. Tuberculosis was the number one health threat, which drained the coffers of the agency and urged formation of a government tuberculosis program. Needs swelled to more than 1,300 annual applications for assistance, and the budget grew to $125,000. When longtime Executive Secretary Imogene Callaway retired in 1945, Mrs. Edwin Gunkle became the first paid executive director of the agency, serving through 1955.

1950-01-01 00:00:00

Counseling for Families

By the 1950s, social workers were concentrating on the family and how it was affected by issues of health, economics and mental/emotional challenges. Marriage and family counseling was now offered, and in 1954, for the first time, modest fees were charged for those who could afford to pay. After years of operating from a series of loaned spaces, the agency received the gift of a cottage on King William Street, which would serve as its home for the next 11 years. Esther Bonnet served as Executive Director from 1955 to 1969.

1960-01-01 00:00:00

Healing Wounds of Social Turbulence

In a decade when war, civil rights issues and college youth uprisings threatened the fragile fabric of American life, the agency stated its mission was “… to assist families desiring better family life." We were positioned to meet this goal from a permanent home after receiving a gift of land and funds to build an office at 230 Pereida Street, which remained our headquarters until 2003. The Community Chest became the United Fund and was the primary funding source for the newly-named Family Service Association of San Antonio, Inc. Annual budget reached $172,083.

1970-01-01 00:00:00

Addressing Changing Social Needs

In this decade, we assumed our current identity as Family Service Association of San Antonio, Inc., and became nationally accredited, the first national accreditation to be achieved. Expanding our range and purpose to address societal change, we added an array of diverse services that included Child Sexual Abuse Counseling, Protective Services for Adults at Risk, Homemaker Aides and Family Life Education. At the same time, the Board of Directors discontinued direct financial assistance in order to redirect funds to professional services. Two satellite locations were opened. Budget, $191,449; families served, 1,000. From 1969 through his retirement in 1981, James R. Gamble, Jr, served as Executive Director.

1980-01-01 00:00:00

Collaboration & Forward Thinking

Services continued to focus on families, counseling, child sexual abuse and resource guidance. In this decade, the Employee Assistance Program began partnering with area businesses to counsel workers in distress. Respected longtime board member Lois Oppenheimer said, “this agency has never looked backwards. The attitude is, ‘let’s try this,’ rather than, ‘we’ve already done that.’” The agency was recognized for its progressive vision in constantly reviewing societal change and adapting its services accordingly, and for a willingness to collaborate for the good of the community. From 1981 to 1988, Kenneth J. Nolan served as Executive Director.

1990-01-01 00:00:00

Innovation & Family Diversity

Family Service continued to develop services to keep families strong and redefined the meaning of “family” as two or more people committed to caring for each other, who share a history and hope for a future, who may or may not live under the same roof. Services expanded to include Parents Anonymous, Youth Against Gang Activity, Families and Schools Together, Helping Children Cope with Divorce, Dependent Care Management, Smart Start, Kidshare and an intensified focus on Adopt-A-Family. We established outcome measures and performance objectives, and operated out of five locations to improve accessibility. Budget reached $1.8 million. Natalie Peterson served as Executive Director throughout the decade.

115th Anniversary

Launch
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