BBB Accredited Business since

St. Jude Retreat

Phone: (518) 842-2204 Fax: (518) 842-5099 View Additional Phone Numbers 9 Market Street Ste. 4, Amsterdam, NY 12010

BBB Business Reviews may not be reproduced for sales or promotional purposes.


This business offers social educational programs for substance use problems.

BBB Accreditation

A BBB Accredited Business since

BBB has determined that St. Jude Retreat meets BBB accreditation standards, which include a commitment to make a good faith effort to resolve any consumer complaints. BBB Accredited Businesses pay a fee for accreditation review/monitoring and for support of BBB services to the public.

BBB accreditation does not mean that the business' products or services have been evaluated or endorsed by BBB, or that BBB has made a determination as to the business' product quality or competency in performing services.

Reason for Rating

BBB rating is based on 13 factors. Get the details about the factors considered.

Factors that raised the rating for St. Jude Retreat include:

  • Length of time business has been operating
  • Complaint volume filed with BBB for business of this size
  • Response to 1 complaint(s) filed against business
  • Resolution of complaint(s) filed against business

Customer Complaints Summary Read complaint details

1 complaint closed with BBB in last 3 years | 0 closed in last 12 months
Complaint Type Total Closed Complaints
Advertising/Sales Issues 1
Billing/Collection Issues 0
Delivery Issues 0
Guarantee/Warranty Issues 0
Problems with Product/Service 0
Total Closed Complaints 1

Customer Reviews Summary Read customer reviews

1 Customer Review on St. Jude Retreat
Customer Experience Total Customer Reviews
Positive Experience 1
Neutral Experience 0
Negative Experience 0
Total Customer Reviews 1

Additional Information

BBB file opened: July 29, 2011 Business started: 11/20/1992 in NY Business started locally: 11/20/1992
Type of Entity


Business Management
Ms. Michelle Dunbar, Executive Director Mr. Ryan Schwantes, President
Contact Information
Principal: Ms. Michelle Dunbar, Executive Director
Business Category


Alternate Business Names
St. Jude Retreat Center St. Jude Retreat House
Additional Information

Please Note: 
Although this organization is tax exempt as a charity under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, it has not been evaluated in relation to the BBB Standards for Charity Accountability since it does not receive significant amounts of revenue from charitable contributions. If this organization’s public solicitation circumstances change, the BBB will revisit the report. ​

Additional Locations

  • 9 Market Street Ste. 4

    Amsterdam, NY 12010


BBB Customer Review Rating plus BBB Rating Overview

BBB Customer Reviews Rating represents the customers opinions of the business. The Customer Review Rating is based on the number of positive, neutral and negative customer reviews posted that are calculated to produce a score.

Customer Review Experience Value
Positive Review 5 points per review
Neutral Review 3 points per review
Negative Review 1 point per review

BBB letter grades represent the BBB's opinion of the business. The BBB grade is based on BBB file information about the business. In some cases, a business' grade may be lowered if the BBB does not have sufficient information about the business despite BBB requests for that information from the business.

BBB Letter Grade Scale

BBB Rating Value
A+ 5
A 4.66
A- 4.33
B+ 4
B 3.66
B- 3.33
C+ 3
C 2.66
C- 2.33
D+ 2
D 1.66
D- 1.33
F 1
NR -----
Star Rating scale

  Average Score
5 stars 5.00
4.5 stars 4.50-4.99
4 stars 4.00-4.49
3.5 stars 3.50-3.99
3 stars 3.00-3.49
2.5 stars 2.50-2.99
2 stars 2.00-2.49
1.5 stars 1.50-1.99
1 star 0-1.49

BBB Customer Review Rating plus BBB Rating is not a guarantee of a business' reliability or performance, and BBB recommends that consumers consider a business' BBB Rating and Customer Review Rating in addition to all other available information about the business. If the BBB Rating is NR then only Customer Reviews are used for the Star Rating.

Complaint Detail(s)

11/25/2014 Advertising/Sales Issues | Read Complaint Details

Additional Notes

Complaint: St. Judes Retreat promises a safe, healthy environment to help people change their lives and to help with substance abuse. It states there is a zero tolerance of any drug use while at their facility. I paid $15,000.00 to attend this program with the hope of learning a new way of living. The facility is extremely unsafe and unhealthy. During my stay there was obvious drug use by some of the guests and when brought to the attention of the directory he swept every situation under the rug. These people caused a lot of anxiety and stress for me so much that I was unable to function and learn. The whole facility is not what it claimed in their advertising and phone interviews. I lasted only 3 weeks of the 6 week program because the stress was overwhelming. Drug use, foul language, stealing of property, disrespect to the customers, chaos etc. The staff is uneducated in substance abuse. It was run like a prison and the customers are treated like criminals. I have never been so disgusted in a program and I have been through a few others. Also the women are discriminated against.

Desired Settlement: I . would like to see a change in staff, especially the director. I believe the founders of St. Judes had a great idea and truly wanted to help people. It is so unhealthy and promotes secrecy and drug behavior. I would like a refund.

Business Response:

November 14, 2014

Re:  ********

To whom it may concern:

This is in response to the above referenced claim.   Ms. ****** ***** ****** was enrolled in our residential program to help people to overcome drug and alcohol problems at our Twin Rivers Retreat from 10/10/2014 to 11/4/2014. She voluntarily checked out of the program prior to completing the program stating that she was not satisfied with the accommodations but was satisfied with the program itself.

I need to make some clarifications as some items in her complaint are incorrect. Ms. ****** did not pay $15,000. The cost of the 6-week program in a shared bedroom at the Twin Rivers Retreat is $14,850 of which her spouse, Mr. ***** ****** paid $12,350. Ms. ****** applied for and was awarded financial aid (scholarship) in the amount of $2,500 from the Saint Jude Retreats scholarship fund to assist her with paying for the program cost.

Upon arrival Ms. ****** expressed that she had thought she would be in a semi-private room with just two people. The bed that was available at the Twin Rivers Retreat was in a  newly remodeled suite that had a capacity for five people of which there were only three (3) guests in the room including her while she was in attendance. Additionally the room is set up so that there are only two (2) people per section. As soon as Ms. ****** expressed her dissatisfaction with her room the Retreat House Director offered to have her transferred to our Mountain Retreat into a semi-private room with just one roommate. She declined the offer saying she would make do.

After being at the retreat approximately a week Ms. ****** complained that there were no social activities for women and older people although there are regular weekly trips to the movies and local shopping malls, as well as “beauty/spa trips” are planned frequently where guests can get their hair and nails done.  As we have a policy of accommodating guests’ activity requests if the activity is available locally and in season, Ms. ****** was asked what activities she would like to do. She said she didn’t know. A trip to a larger shopping mall in Albany (more than 30 miles away) was suggested and she said she would like that. She and one other guest were taken to Crossgates Mall and seemed to enjoy their day.

She expressed concern to the Director that she thought there were guests that were using illicit drugs in the house at which time a thorough investigation was conducted by the Director (as is policy when guests express these kinds of concerns) including drug tests being given. It is company policy that results of these kinds of investigations and any actions taken are kept confidential to preserve the privacy of our guests so the results of the investigation were not discussed with her, although she was reassured that it was being handled confidentially.

Each time that Ms. ****** expressed concerns, they were addressed promptly. And Ms. ****** was offered to transfer to another retreat house a few times but declined each time. She was provided with special activities and the Director and staff spent copious time listening and addressing her concerns and accommodating her special requests. In spite of all of this Ms. ****** chose to leave the program early. Ms. ****** sent in this complaint to the BBB immediately upon leaving and prior to talking with our organization or requesting any kind of refund. While all monies paid for our program are typically non-refundable, there are special situations and circumstances where we do provide credit to return to the program or a pro-rated refund if warranted, and there are documented procedures she can take to request a refund.

Our refund procedure was put in place nearly 20 years ago at the direction of our auditors to help preserve our 501(c)3 not-for-profit status by securing full documentation for all outgoing funds, especially those written to individuals.  Had Mr. or Mrs. ****** called our Guest Services office with whom they placed the reservation and paid for the program, they would have been told to submit a written formal request for a refund stating the reasons for her leaving the program early and any special circumstances that would warrant us granting a refund.  We have made exceptions and provided pro-rated refunds in the past when this procedure is followed for specific circumstances such as when someone must leave the program due to health issues, legal issues, and family emergencies. 

Since submitting this complaint Ms. ****** did contact our office on or about 11/7/2014. I talked with her directly and informed her of our refund policy. I listened to her concerns which were similar to those expressed in the complaint centering on accommodations and her suspicions of other guests’ behaviors and staff issues. I made her an offer to either return and stay at our Executive Retreat to complete the program at no extra charge or to have her husband who is the payer submit a written request for a pro-rated refund stating her reasons for leaving and why a refund should be granted. I informed her that this document is a formality and required for our records but that I would personally guarantee they would be approved for a pro-rated refund after the document is submitted. Based on the total amount they paid $12,350 and the fact that she did stay to complete half the program, the pro-rated refund would be $6,175.

As I know how much Ms. ****** can benefit from completing our program, I strongly recommended to her that she take advantage of the generous offer to complete her program at our Executive Retreat as all rooms are private, all classes are private and it has additional amenities and activities geared toward older adults as the average age of our guests there is 55 years old. The value of completing the program at the Executive Retreat is minimally $13,000 depending on which bedroom is available at the time she enrolls.

I am currently awaiting a response from Ms. ****** as to which option she is choosing. I will update the BBB once I hear back from her. Thank you.

Kindest regards,


Executive Director





Customer Review(s)

The customer review(s) below are un-filtered. These positive and negative reviews are not used in the calculation of the BBB Rating. If you wish to file a complaint and request a resolution to your issue please click here. This customer review section is not BBBs complaint resolution system. Customer Reviews are the subjective opinion of the individual who posted the review and not of Better Business Bureau. A customer review is not posted on a business if a BBB complaint on the same issue(s) is also filed. BBB cannot guarantee the accuracy of any customer review and is not responsible for the content of any customer review. Public comments are not customer reviews.

Customer Reviews Summary

1 Customer Review on St. Jude Retreat
Neutral Experience (0 reviews)
Negative Experience (0 reviews)
Fusion Chart
Fusion Chart