Skip to main content

Dutchess County’s Margaret Hirst Honored for Decades of Service
NAMI Mid-Hudson recognizes DBCH Deputy Commissioner

Published: 9/13/2017

For More Information Contact:

Colleen Pillus
(845) 486-2000

Poughkeepsie… Dutchess County Executive Marcus J. Molinaro congratulates Department of Behavioral & Community Health (DBCH) Deputy Commissioner and Director of Community Services Margaret Hirst, LCSW on receiving the 2017 HOPE: Honoring Our Partners’ Excellence Award from the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) Mid-Hudson at its annual gala this evening at the Grandview.

The NAMI Mid-Hudson HOPE Award is given to an individual who has demonstrated exemplary commitment and dedication to furthering NAMI Mid-Hudson's mission of providing support, education, and advocacy to the families and individuals living with mental health conditions.

County Executive Molinaro said, “Margaret Hirst’s dedication to the people of Dutchess County, particularly our most vulnerable residents, has never wavered in her decades of service. She is a recognized leader in the mental health community throughout our state, and the impact of her work extends far beyond Dutchess County. Margaret is a treasured member of our Dutchess County family, and she is truly deserving of every honor she receives.”

A clinical social worker who has worked for the behavioral health public sector for 39 years, Ms. Hirst has extensive experience working with the mentally ill, chemically dependent, and intellectually and developmentally disabled – both adults and youth. She previously served as Acting Director for the Department of Behavioral & Community Health.

“Assisting those who need help has long been a passion of mine, and I have enjoyed working to better the lives of Dutchess County residents,” said Deputy Commissioner Hirst, who will retire on October 26, 2017. “I look fondly on my time in the Dutchess County Department of Behavioral & Community Health, and I’m proud of the strides we’ve made through the years. I thank NAMI Mid-Hudson for its recognition, and I support the great work the organization performs each day on behalf of our neighbors.”

During her tenure, Ms. Hirst has helped initiate many new services and programs, such as:

  • community-based re-entry teams in adult homes;
  • a mobile mental health program to reach individuals who have difficulty keeping appointments;
  • treatment programs as alternatives to incarceration, including drug courts and pre-trial diversion services;
  • chemical dependency and mental health treatment for individuals who are intellectually and developmentally disabled.

Deputy Commissioner Hirst was instrumental in bringing about the Dutchess County Stabilization Center, New York State’s first-of-its-kind, non-medical, voluntary, walk-in center for individuals experiencing crisis resulting from mental health or substance abuse issues. She has also been an active member of the Criminal Justice Council since 1999.

NAMI Mid-Hudson Executive Director Tina Lee said, “It is most fitting that Ms. Margaret Hirst receives the NAMI Mid-Hudson HOPE Award. Ms. Hirst has dedicated over 39 years of public service to provide ‘HOPE’ and help to families and individuals living with mental health conditions find recovery. As a result of Ms. Hirst's initiation to partner between the Dutchess County Department of Behavioral & Community Health and NAMI Mid-Hudson, she has mentored NAMI Mid-Hudson on many occasions and demonstrated the utmost compassion and respect for our families and loved ones. NAMI Mid-Hudson is honored to have partnered with Ms. Hirst in our mission to bring mental wellness to our community and we wish her the best in her future endeavors.”