Celebrating Foster Care & Mental Health Awareness Month

Holly Zuch, Mental Health Counselor, Children’s Clinic of WNY

After starting at New Directions in May of 2017, Holly’s role in the agency has transitioned over time. Holly began as a foster care permanency worker at the Harlem Road office and then moved to her current position at the Children’s Clinic of WNY in December of 2018. Holly attended SUNY University at Buffalo and earning amaster’s degree in Social Work.

Holly works with children ages 5-21, assessing and diagnosing them, as well as providing counseling interventions. Holly loves to see how hard her kids push themselves to do their best and finds it rewarding to see them reach their goals. Holly also feels lucky to have her coworkers at her side., stating, “mental health can be an exhausting job and I couldn’t get through the difficult parts without them.”

Holly enjoys the creative aspects of her job, like creating art with kids during sessions at the clinic. In her free time, Holly enjoys playing video games and board games, breaking a sweat on the tennis court, and walking her dog.

 

Melissa Bonello, Family Resource Manager
Erie County Department of Social Services & Harlem Road Office

Melissa has been with New Directions for 17 years this past April! She graduated from Medaille College, earning a bachelor’s in Child and Youth Services. Born in Toronto, ON, Canada, Melissa moved to Buffalo to attend college and found a “home” with New Directions in Erie County.

Melissa started in 2003 as a Youth Counselor for Foster Care North, and went on to fill various roles including Adoption Worker, Case Manager, and Intake Coordinator. Currently, she recruits and trains foster parents and then matches them with children in need of families. Melissa also provides these families with continuing support while they are fostering youth. Melissa gets to know the families she works with quite well. Melissa loves helping the family as a unit, helping each member to feel supported. Keeping families together, or at least finding permanency, is her
favorite part of the job.

Melissa is also the supervisor of Erie County’s Family Group Conferencing Program, which supports at-risk families in need of counseling. In her spare time, Melissa loves going to see her favorite musical groups in concert, channeling her energy through yoga, and spending time with her loving family.

 

Thank you both for being so dedicated to our children and families!