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Dan Hust | Democrat

RISE (Rape Intervention Services and Education) has found its new home on the fourth floor of Catskill Regional Medical Center (CRMC) in Harris. Celebrating its relocation recently were, from the left, intern Sarah Dittmar, volunteer counselor Jean Klaber, Program Manager Cindy Zingher and CRMC Director of Marketing and Public Relations J.P. McGuirk.

RISE gets reprieve, thanks to hospital

By Dan Hust
HARRIS — February 19, 2010 — RISE is not dead.
In fact, it’s very much alive, never totally succumbing to funding shortfalls, thanks in no small part to Cindy Zingher’s unshakeable faith in the program.
Last year, RISE (Rape Intervention Services and Education) faced the loss of more than $300,000 in state funding due to a highly competitive grant environment.
Planned Parenthood Mid-Hudson Valley was also reluctantly cutting costs by cutting programs, one of which included RISE.
By September, Zingher, the program’s manager and director, had no more paid staff, and RISE seemed doomed to end its 22 years of existence in December.
But the combination of efforts by community organizer and RISE volunteer Richard Sush, Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, Catskill Regional Medical Center (CRMC), Community Unity and an article in the Democrat – not to mention Zingher’s persistence – saved RISE from ruin.
“It was a rough few months,” acknowledged Zingher. “A lot of people still think we’re closed.”
Far from it. RISE has simply moved out of its former Monticello location, opening its new offices inside CRMC’s Harris headquarters on February 1.
“Coming here was such a relief,” said a beaming Zingher. “It’s great!”
The suite of office space already has a homemade “RISE” sign on the door, and those in need of its counseling and referral services have started to trickle in.
Zingher remains grateful that CRMC stepped in when it did and continues to look for grant funding. Best of all, she said the hospital offers a one-stop location for anyone suffering the physical, mental and medical impacts of rape and other sexual trauma.
“If people are raped, this is where they need to go: a hospital,” she pointed out. “The support network is great.”
RISE is open from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. on weekdays in Harris, and thanks to CRMC’s Grover Hermann Division, it also offers the same hours every Friday in Callicoon.
Emergency walk-ins are welcome, but Zingher prefers people call first to ensure she or one of the six volunteers is available: 794-3300, ext. 2442. Or people can email them at
RISE’s hotline number – available 24/7 – remains the same: 791-9595.
As always, all calls and visits are free and confidential.
Zingher hopes to expand RISE’s offerings through the hospital, but funding remains a pressing issue. RISE does not charge for any of its services, and CRMC can only afford to pay Zingher for now.
“It’s very hard right now, being one person handling everything,” she confirmed.
CRMC CEO Steve Ruwoldt said Sush, Gunther and the hospital’s grantwriter, Callicoon administrator Marc Mendelsohn, have obtained about $130,000 for RISE this year, for which he’s grateful.
“But the program needs $200,000 a year to run,” he explained. “So we’re still short.”
Ruwoldt promised CRMC is doing all that it can to ensure RISE does not disappear.
“We simply recognized it as an important service for the county,” he affirmed.
But the hospital itself is already anticipating an up to $6 million loss in state funding this year.
“We can’t keep absorbing everything,” he noted. “We need residents to step up and support the hospital.”
To that end, CRMC and RISE officials are planning a fundraiser, perhaps a phone-a-thon, to solicit donations from the community – especially parents and grandparents, as RISE often works with children and schools.
RISE also continues to look for volunteers – to man the phones, to help with paperwork, to train as counselors, and to aid fundraising efforts.
In the meantime, Zingher remains a driven and eternally optimistic leader, unfazed by these daunting challenges.
“I’m just happy here!” she grinned. “And I want people to know: we’re here for them.”

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