Dawson Bradshaw’s Legacy Lives on at FamilyMeans

Dawson Bradshaw

FamilyMeans opened its doors on July 1, 1963, as Family Service of St. Croix Area with Dawson Bradshaw serving as executive director. Leading up to this, Dawson was part of a study committee that helped determine the need for a social services agency in the Stillwater area.

51 years ago today, and months prior to the agency’s official start, in a memo dated Dec. 12, 1962, Dawson shared his beliefs that family casework be the initial focus encompassing the following:

  • “financial counseling which includes household management, budgeting and payment of debts”,
  • “poor school adjustment of children, the teenager who in his efforts to be grown up resents any parental control”,
  • “the broad area of the relationship between husband and wife”, and
  • “the personality problems of one member whose feelings are inappropriate and damaging to his relationship with others”.

Dawson was committed to high-quality services provided by well-trained, skilled, and compassionate professionals. Although Dawson’s standards were set high, he had a wonderful sense of humor, close friends and family, and a secret love of reading western novels.

Dawson retired after 12 years as executive director; however, during the last year in Dawson’s leadership role, the demand for services grew dramatically and the agency budget began to outpace the St. Croix Area United Way's funding ability. With approval from the United Way, the agency ultimately became a free-standing, private organization funded primary through the United Way, grants, and private donations.

Even after Dawson’s retirement he would visit the agency to be sure FamilyMeans (the agency changed its name in 1999) still employed capable staff as he strongly believed families deserved the best help available when going through tough times. As for Dawson, who is now deceased, his legacy lives on at FamilyMeans through the leadership and passion he established by creating a culture of quality and compassion. He would be pleased.

What Dawson started continues in its 50th year at FamilyMeans and today the agency serves more than 24,000 people each year through the varied programs offered.

To learn how you can be involved with FamilyMeans like Dawson, contact us today.