Catholic Charities of Buffalo recently recognized several of its foster grandparent program participants. At a recent recognition event, recipients of the Foster Grandparent of the Year and the Henry Osinski Community Service Award were honored, in addition to several foster grandparents marking 10 and 15 years of service.
This year’s Foster Grandparent of the Year Award was given to Patricia Bellamy of Buffalo who works in third and fifth grades at Buffalo Public Schools #31 Harriet Ross Tubman School. She was nominated for her patience, guidance and personalized approach to the children.
The Henry Osinski Community Service Award was awarded to Deborah Hardwick of Town of Tonawanda, a first-grade teacher at Buffalo Public Schools #69 Houghton Academy. She was nominated for her interactions with the students, her caring personality, and the way she makes the foster grandparents feel valued. The Henry Osinski Award is nominated each year by a foster grandparent volunteer. Margaret Szmania of West Seneca nominated Ms. Hardwick.
Catholic Charities also honored these longtime foster grandparent volunteers, all of Buffalo: 10 years: Louise Bailey and Myra McGrier; and 15 years: Eunice Coon, Mary Mathis, and Joanne Mitchell.
Foster grandparents develop one-on-one relationships with children ages three to 18 by tutoring, mentoring and offering caring support to special and exceptional needs children in an educational setting. Foster grandparents volunteer between five 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 and receive a small stipend.
In 2022, foster grandparents dedicated nearly 50,000 hours in educational settings across Erie County, including two Head Start sites, two after school programs, and 16 Buffalo Public Schools.
For more information or to request an application to become a foster grandparent, call 716-896-6388, or visit our website at ccwny.org/older-adults.