About Us

A Legacy of Outstanding and Compassionate Care

From the Chair of the Board to the direct support professionals pulling a weekend shift at one of our residencies, the Citizen Advocates story is about people. Since 1975, we have provided outstanding and compassionate care to countless individuals residing in the North Country. Today, we employ over 700 employees, log over 800,000 miles transporting individuals in our programs, and serve nearly 5,000 individuals each year. Our legacy is one of excellence and our commitment to providing patient-centered care is unwavering.

Citizen Advocates promotes a culture of wellness, not only within the programs we provide, but also within the communities that are home to the thousands of people we serve. Our staff participate in various community events and activities that help raise awareness and give back to those in need.

Fall 2014 has been a busy season for Citizen Advocates and its North Star Family of Services.  On September 25th, the agency hosted the annual “Taste of Malone” dinner at Moe’s Restaurant to benefit the “Backpack Program.” The program is totally reliant on funds raised to help feed over 500 children throughout the school year who qualify for the free or reduced price breakfast and lunches provided during the school day. Volunteers pack nutritious food each week in each child’s backpack to bring home for the weekend.  Once again the local support for this event was outstanding, and all proceeds went to support the Backpack Program.

On September 27th, North Star Behavioral Health Services was proud to sponsor the 6th Annual  “Celebrate Recovery! North Country Walk and Picnic” in Malone Arsenal Green in recognition of National Recovery Month.  The weather was beautiful and the day was a fantastic opportunity for people throughout the North Country to come together to celebrate the journey of recovery.  In addition to the traditional walk and bbq picnic, there were games, a clown and face painting for the kids! This family centered event was truly inspiring.  Community members shared their stories, listened to inspirational music and enjoyed good food and fellowship.  We are already looking forward to, and planning for next year! 

Every October for the past 4 years, Citizen Advocates has been a major sponsor of the American Federation of Suicide Prevention (AFSP) “Out of the Darkness” walk held in Lake Placid, NY. On October 6th our North Star Behavioral Health crew showed up in force to support this event. We had volunteers to help raise funds by participating in the walk, and to be available to provide counseling support to those in need.  

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and North Star’s Donna Pond, a dietician technician at our Petrova Ave. day program site in Saranac Lake, organized the 17th Annual North Star Industries Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign. Donna coordinates special events throughout the month to raise funds and awareness for breast cancer support with all proceeds going to the American Cancer Society. She created the “Pink Ribbon Angel” activity, where staff can purchase pink angels to recognize fellow employees for their hard work and dedication.  Brownie sales and penny collection “wars” are also featured activities throughout the month. Donna also sells “remembrance balloons” to staff and others with names of loved ones who have battled with breast cancer. Over $250 has been raised and we are still counting!

Nickels Redemption Center designates Breast Cancer and the American Cancer Society as their charity for the month of October. Customers returning their redeemable items can opt to donate their “nickels” to the charity. The work crew at Nickels sorts the containers and tracks the donations to be designated to the American Cancer Society Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign. In the month of October the Saranac Lake Nickels site added over $180 from the donated containers to the total amount raised for Breast Cancer Awareness.

Nickels has also designated the United Way of the Adirondack Region as the charity of the month. The United Way has helped fund the Backpack Program.

Citizen Advocates staff participate in an annual holiday gift drive sponsored by Franklin County Department of Social Services for children in Franklin County. This volunteer drive has been very popular among the staff, and this year was no different with hundreds of gifts donated for these children. 

Our History

Started in 1975 as a small sheltered work program for people with intellectual disabilities and mental health illnesses, Citizen Advocates began with just 12 employees serving approximately 50 individuals. At the time, our two distinct service lines served the needs of those with developmental disabilities and mental illnesses and functioned under contracts with local businesses in Malone, NY, including a toy manufacturing company from Montreal and a local shoe factory. Since then, the world of medical care for those with developmental disabilities and mental illnesses has evolved tremendously – and we’ve adapted accordingly.

When the deinstitutionalization movement took shape, our organization was reorganized as a private entity, composed of a group of committed citizens who strived to advocate for the rights of those with developmental disabilities and mental illnesses. Originally based on the Fountain House model – which revolutionized the world of mental health in the early 1940s by adopting the belief that individuals with chronic intellectual disabilities were capable of helping each other through psychosocial rehabilitation – Citizen Advocates’ programs have evolved from day and residential programs to include mental health and substance use disorder services. From humble beginnings to a professionally operated, clinically trained and state of the art organization, Citizen Advocates continues to make strides in its commitment to the individuals it serves.

Our Locations

Citizen Advocates and the North Star Family of Services’ wide variety of programs primarily serve residents of Southern and Northern Franklin County, as well as the neighboring counties of Clinton, Essex, Hamilton and St. Lawrence. We operate numerous residential, vocational, behavioral health services, day programs, and service coordination throughout the North Country. Our main offices can be found at:

Citizen Advocates Administrative Headquarters
125 Finney Blvd., Malone, NY 12953 518.483.1251
Saranac Lake Office 70 Edgewood Road Saranac Lake, NY 12983 518.891.5535
For emergencies, please contact our crisis hotline at 518.483.3261

Like Us On Facebook