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Meet Shelter Island Town’s new social worker

BEVERLEA WALZ PHOTO New town social worker Lucille Buergers is available to confidentially assist residents with personal or family issues.
New town social worker Lucille Buergers is available to confidentially assist residents with personal or family issues.

When Andrea Nydegger gave up her part-time job as Shelter Island Town’s social worker because of other commitments, her close friend and former supervisor, Lucille Buergers stepped in to ensure residents would have access to counseling.

Ms. Buergers is semi-retired, but happy to assume the role that currently provides free and confidential social work assistance, she said.

Ms. Buergers already has a handful of clients consuming much of her time. She’s hoping the budget for her services might be expanded to add some hours — currently limited to 14 per month — to meet the needs of residents here.

She is prepared to help with all kinds of problems, including family and relationship issues; domestic violence; spouses adjusting to going forward without their loved ones; midlife relationship changes brought on by divorce and/or a desire to start over in more healthy relationships; substance abuse; and being caregivers to elderly parents and eating disorders.

Shelter Island isn’t new to Ms. Buergers, an East Quogue resident who had a close friend growing up whose grandmother had a house in Dering Harbor. As a child, she spent many hours playing here, she said. And as an adult, in her role as a social worker supervisor, she’s been a resource in years past for social workers hired by the Shelter Island School District.

“I love Shelter Island,” she said. “Not much has changed since I was a kid.”

She studied sociology at the University of Kansas and following her undergraduate studies, relocated to Albuquerque where she spent two years before coming back east, to Huntington, where she began work in a program assisting young people to build self-esteem and stay on the right path to success.

Ms. Buergers earned an MSW at Adelphi University, and subsequently worked for Little Flower Children and Family Services of New York and then Family Counseling Service on Long Island. But when a former colleague working at Eastern Long Island BOCES told her the student assistant service was expanding its counseling program, Ms. Buergers made the move.

Because of her previous experience, she started as a supervisor at BOCES and enjoyed working with the counselors.

When others retired, she became an administrator, but realized she wanted to return to counseling and staff development, so switched to the BOCES employee assistance program where she was able to interact with other community services, including schools and libraries.

With her retirement two years ago, Ms. Buergers signed on for an eight-hour per week program in Hampton Bays and one day in Medford, something she plans to continue as she takes on the Shelter Island assignment.

She found a high level of cooperation on the Island among professionals from the library, school, senior services and other groups.

“I’m a team player,” Ms. Buergers said,

In addition to her training as a social worker, Ms. Buergers is also an advocate of mindfulness programs that can help with stress reduction and improved health. Her aim is to assist people in becoming more resilient so they can improve their ability to cope with adversity.

Currently, Ms. Buergers is occupying office space in the basement of the Justice Court building and can make appointments to meet with clients. She can be reached at (631) 749 0302, extension 151, or at [email protected]

Note that the telephone number is at Shelter Island School, although Ms. Buergers services are separate from those offered to students by school social worker Jennifer Olsen.