Community Missions Honors Awardeesby Christian Hoffman
NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. - Community Missions of Niagara Frontier, Inc. (CMI) held its 22nd Annual Compassion in Action Awards Brunch Thursday afternoon to honor many of the volunteers and supporters that make its mission possible.
Hosted by The LaSalle Yacht Club, the brunch is structured to honor those that help the agency throughout the year, while also recognizing award winners from six of the organization's departments. In addition, a Director's Award is presented by Executive Director Robyn L. Krueger, and the Sharon Kroetsch Memorial Award is bestowed upon a chosen board member.
"Today we are honored to show our gratitude and appreciation to the individuals and organizations that give so much of themselves to help others," said Krueger. "The gratitude we feel is full, it makes our work complete, it fills people who come to the Mission with a sense of compassion, and without them our work would be much more difficult."
Approximately 100 attendees, including James Ward representing
Senator George Maziarz and Bonnie Kane Lockwood representing Congressman
Brian Higgins, honored the following award winners Thursday afternoon
(profiles for each honoree included below):
• Ms. Barbara Northan, CMI Board Member - Susan Kroetsch Memorial Award
• Grigg Lewis Foundation - Director's Award
• Mr. Robert Inwards - Public Relations Award
• Ms. Kristen M. LaGamba, United Way of Greater Niagara, Inc. - Finance Award
• Panera Bread, Military Road #601620 - Crisis and Community Services Award
• Ms. JoAnne Paxon, Janssen Pharmaceuticals - Mental Health Recovery Services Award
• North Tonawanda Police Department - Mental Health Housing Services Award
• Ms. Laura J. Kelemen, LCSW-R, Child Advocacy Center of Niagara - Youth Services Award
In 2013, Community Missions served over 75,000 meals and provided nearly 11,000 nights of care to neglected or abused children and homeless adults. Additional agency programs serve adults and youth with psychiatric disabilities, parolees, at-risk youth and other underserved populations in both residential and recovery-oriented settings. For more information on the many services and programs provided by Community Missions, please visit www.communitymissions.org or connect via Facebook and/or Twitter.
Sharon Kroetsch Memorial Award - Barbara Northan, CMI Board Member
This year's Sharon Kroetsch Memorial Award will be presented to Barbara Northan. What an appropriate award for an individual who was invited to the Board by Sharon herself! Barbara has faithfully and actively supported and served CMI for over 20 years as a Board Member. Quietly observant and always willing to actively seek solutions to agency challenges, Barbara has provided steady and focused counsel for the organization and the Board.
You will generally find Barbara at the registration table for the yearly Spring Walk, and she is a strong donor to the agency's annual matching campaign. This acknowledgment and award is a fitting tribute to Barbara as she retires from her CMI Board "career."
Director's Award - Grigg Lewis Foundation - William B. May, Secretary/Executive Director
This year's Director's Award will be presented to the Grigg Lewis Foundation. The Foundation was established in 1968 through a gift by Henrietta Grigg Lewis. Despite the low profile of this valued Foundation, the impact of its work has had an extraordinary effect within Niagara County. For over 10 years, the agency has benefited from the generosity of this humble philanthropic organization.
Examples of the Foundation's generosity include varying gifts to the Community Kitchen for equipment, food and upgrades to its commercial space; funds for a vehicle to enhance consumer travel in movement to permanent housing and a variety of appointments for those in Respite and in the Crisis Shelter; and kitchen upgrades for the children's community residence in Lockport.
Public Relations Award - Bob Inwards
This year's Public Relations Award will be presented to Bob Inwards. Mr. Inwards has been a loyal supporter of Community Missions, continually offering photography services free of charge at the agency's fundraising events. He has provided Community Missions with beautiful photos that truly capture each and every event, donating countless hours to not only photographing the event, but the lengthy process of editing each shot. These pictures are utilized in many of the agency's publicity efforts, including in print materials, on its website and social media offerings of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
In addition to events, Mr. Inwards also provides family portraits for the agency's clients, once again free of charge, during the holiday season. For many, this is the first and only portrait a family may have.
Finance Award - Kristen LaGamba, United Way of Greater Niagara, Inc.
This year's Finance Award will be presented to Kristen LaGamba. Ms. LaGamba serves as Vice President of Finance and Administration for United Way of Greater Niagara, Inc. In her role with United Way, she is also the Local Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) Board Administrator. Community Missions receives funding each year through the EFSP to help offset a portion of the expenses in our Crisis and Community Services division; and Ms. LaGamba coordinates communication between the Mission and the EFSP National Board.
She is always a valuable resource in helping ensure that Community Missions complies with the National Board's strict deadlines and documentation requirements, supporting the Mission by helping to ensure the agency does not miss out on any of this very important funding.
Crisis & Community Services Award - Panera Bread - Military Road Store #601620
This year's Crisis and Community Services Award will be presented to Panera Bread Store #601620 on Military Road. The store has donated bread and pastries to Community Missions four times each week for over a year. Each evening pickup made by a staff, board member, or volunteer at the restaurant finds boxes and bags of bread and pastries waiting.
Assisted by Panera's helpful and friendly staff, a vehicle filled with food is found heading back to CMI after each load. This provides a special breakfast treat for the guests in the homeless shelter, and a lunch treat for those that come to the Community Kitchen. These donations have saved the Mission thousands of dollars, but more importantly, have given the Mission the ability to provide something special to those in our community that visit the Mission for help.
Mental Health Recovery Services Award - JoAnne Paxon, Janssen Pharmaceuticals
This year's Mental Health Recovery Services Award will be presented to JoAnne Paxon. As Community Missions' Janssen Pharmaceuticals representative, Ms. Paxon has worked with Niagara Visions PROS regarding new-age, psychotropic medications. She has provided training to PROS staff regarding care transitions in using these new medications. She has always been available when called upon, even visiting to check on the program's progress. Ms. Paxon has arranged technical assistance to the Community Missions Finance Department and PROS staff in setting up a system to order these expensive medications and get reimbursed.
The medications have helped individuals to have a better prospect of resuming valued roles in the community, like employment and family involvement, thanks to their normalized behavior.
Mental Health Housing Services Award - North Tonawanda Police Department
This year's Mental Health Housing Services Award will be presented to the North Tonawanda Police Department, and Police Chief William Hall. The Department and its officers consistently offer assistance with a compassionate, helpful and kind attitude, specifically in dealing with the residents at Canal View.
The Department can always be counted on for a prompt response, and once engaged with a resident in crisis, each officer has displayed a compassionate approach toward helping deescalate the situation. The Department has always been helpful in providing advice and resources for specific needs at the residence, going above and beyond the call of duty.
Youth Services Award - Laura J. Kelemen, LCSW-R, Child Advocacy Center of Niagara
This year's Youth Services Award will be presented to Laura J. Kelemen, LCSW-R. Ms. Kelemen is a long-time advocate for children and families. Prior to her current position as Executive Director of the Child Advocacy Center of Niagara, she served as Director of the Partners in Parenting and Children's Mental Health Programs at New Directions Youth and Family Services.
In 2007, Ms. Kelemen agreed to participate on the Aurora House Intake Committee. Thanks to her education and experience, she offers a unique perspective on the committee's decision-making process. Her insights lend themselves to an understanding of not only the clinical and behavioral challenges the children face, but also the life challenges the families have and continue to encounter. This awareness, coupled with her knowledge of assessment, case management concerns and community resources provide an essential component to the committee's review.
By The Numbers...
In 2016, Community Missions provided:
• 11,104 nights of shelter
• 89,366 meals
• 6,744 individuals with clothing
• 2,295 care days in Youth Services
• 46,888 care days in Recovery Services
• 73,994 care days in Housing Services
• 182 opportunities for Faith Development