Foster Grandparent Jacqueline Daniels (left) and Bonnie Cox celebrate Daniels' achievement as the 2017 Foster Grandparent of the Year. Daniels volunteers at Enterprise Charter School, where Cox works as a classroom aid.
At a luncheon sponsored by Catholic Charities, the Foster Grandparent Program recognized three stand-out participants for their service and dedication to: Jacqueline Daniels as the Foster Grandparent of the Year, Lee Ann Kelly as the 2017 Henry Osinski Community Service Award winner, and Bessie Robinson for 25 years of service.
The luncheon was held July 26 at Pearl @ The Lafayette in Buffalo.
Erin Pustulka, Foster Grandparent Program coordinator, said the Foster Grandparent of the Year award is based on nominations, and then once nominations are tallied, a committee selects the winner. Daniels, this year's winner, volunteers at Enterprise Charter School in Buffalo.
Foster Grandparents develop one-on-one relationships with children ages 3-18 by tutoring, mentoring and offering caring support to special and exceptional needs children in an educational setting.
"This year when deciding our Foster Grandparent of the Year, we had an extremely compelling nomination. Not only was she nominated by her teacher, but 15 of the students in her class wrote letters with corresponding pictures nominating her for Foster Grandparent of the Year," said Pustulka of Daniels. "The students' letters showed the direct impact she had on them. One example said 'She is important because she makes sure everybody is successful.' Jacqueline truly embodies all of the best trait of a Foster Grandparent. She's kind, helpful, dedicated and loyal."
Kelly, this year's 2017 Henry Osinski Community Service Award winner, is also from Enterprise Charter School, and was nominated by both school staff and Foster Grandparents. Kelly serves as a site liaison at Enterprise Charter for the Foster Grandparent Program. Kelly was recognized for her ability to create personal connections with each of the grandparents.
A total of 29 Foster Grandparents were also recognized for one, three, five, seven, 10, 15 and 25 years of service. Among them was Bessie Robinson, who celebrated her 25th year as a Foster Grandparent.
"Bessie's 25 years with the Foster Grandparent Program is the longest tenure I've seen in my 10 years with the program," Pustulka said. "During her time as volunteer, Bessie has seen many staffing changes, shifts in program models, and, of course, her students go from young children to adults. She has accomplished all of this with patience, grace and love. Her 25 years of service is a monumental achievement."
Foster Grandparents volunteer between 15 and 40 hours each week and draw from personal wisdom and experience to help children meet social, academic and developmental goals under the supervision of teachers and center directors. All volunteers must be at least 55 years old. Volunteers receive a small stipend for their efforts.
In 2016, more than 96 percent of students who worked one-on-one with one of the 91 active Foster Grandparents passed to the next grade level. The program operates in 33 sites in Erie County, and impacted the lives of 1,242 people last year.
Catholic Charities has helped individuals and families in need since its founding in 1923. That need is varied and widespread - from emergency assistance to counseling and from specialized services for the elderly to help with job training and education. Catholic Charities empowers children, families and seniors to achieve meaningful, healthy and productive lives. In all situations, Catholic Charities delivers support to meet immediate needs, and then assess its clients for other needs to ensure long-term success.
Catholic Charities is an excellent steward of the contributions it receives. Catholic Charities receives the highest-possible rating (four stars) from Charity Navigator for transparency and sound fiscal management. Catholic Charities also receives the highest ratings from the Council on Accreditation for quality service.
For further information about the organization and its programs and services, contact Catholic Charities at (716) 218-1400 or go to ccwny.org. You can also check out Catholic Charities on Facebook at facebook.com/ccbuffalo, on Twitter at twitter.com/ccbuffalo and on Instagram at Instagram.com/catholiccharitiesbuffalo.