“Social Work”, some may say, is often a thankless profession. Last week, the National Association of Social Workers NY (NASW),Western Division Regional Council recognized some of their shining stars, with the theme “Small Change Adds Up: How Social Workers Can Contribute to a Just Western NY” at the Amber Dixon Galley in Buffalo Center for Arts and Technology.
Buffalo’s own Judge Craig Hannah, addressed the group of a few hundred. Judge Hannah presides over the nation’s first Opioid Intervention Court, which is devoted to treating the needs of people first. The New York Times said of him, “The Judge Has a Mission: Keep Defendants Alive!” Additionally, Judge Hannah presides over the Adolescent Diversion Part, and is the Supervising Judge over the Lackawanna, Tonawanda, and North Tonawanda City Courts.
B-Team Buffalo (members in lead image) has received the NASW Community Impact award for an organization. I served with them a decade ago, on my favorite project – City of Lights. B-Team Buffalo has been a catalyst for change in WNY through community partnerships and exemplary leadership in volunteer engagement. B-Team’s initiatives include “Send Hunger Packing,” which sees volunteers packing bags of trail mix for distribution at organizations such as Code Blue Relief Mission and Friends of Night People. In 2016, this initiative was expanded to include personal care products due to increased community need. Their annual event grows, educates, and engages more volunteers on critical issues around hunger and homelessness every year.
Community Impact for an individual – Antonio Regulier |Regulier has worked for the Office of the Mayor – Division of Citizen Services since 2015, starting as an Urban Fellow. Regulier is currently responsible for the AmeriCorps V.I.S.T.A. members through City Hall and leads the design/implementation of a Service Plan for Buffalo. He has been instrumental in programs such as Love Your Block, the Great American Clean Up, and Operation Clean Sweep. Furthermore, he serves on the Racial Equity Roundtable for the Community Foundation of Greater Buffalo and works with Say Yes!
Social Worker of the Year – Shannan Lazzara-Santarone, MSW | Lazzara-Santarone began serving the community in middle school as a YES volunteer and in 2001 as an AmeriCorps member. She joined KidsPeace in 2015 serving children and youth in need of behavioral health services. She has made a lasting impact on every child she has helped. Shannan is an incredibly passionate advocate for youth in foster care and for those who cannot fight for themselves. She has demonstrated relentless diligence and consistent willingness to go above and beyond, for the safety and well-being of countless children. Lazzara-Santarone believes in the power and impact of her role as a caseworker – knowing it can make a difference. Above all, passion drives her to see great potential in every child, and she models strength for those who don’t believe in their own. I am privileged to call her my daughter.
Lifetime Achievement Award – Elizabeth Mauro | Mauro serves our community as the Executive Director of Endeavor Health Services, an organization in WNY providing mental health and chemical dependency treatment, education, and support services. She started as an intern at Mid-Erie Counseling and Treatment Services in 1992 and became Executive Director in 2005. Mauro has provided consistency and stability to Mid-Erie, in addition to expanding the agency into multiple counties under the organization Endeavor Health Services. Mauro’s achievements include being selected by the US Department of Health and Human Services to allow her organization to provide holistic services and multi-pronged health programming under one roof. Mauro has also served alongside various stakeholders to launch a child and adolescent opioid rehabilitation facility offering medication-assisted opioid treatment.
BSW Students of the Year – Sara Smyth (Niagara University), Anna Rivera (Daemen College), Kali Rizzo (Buffalo State College)
MSW Students of the Year – Emily Hammer (University at Buffalo), Alexis Lillie (Daemen College)
Congratulations at all, I know you will continue to shine!