Celebrating Juneteenth 2021
Juneteenth is Saturday, June 19th, 2021. Keep reading to learn more about the history of the holiday and discover ways to honor, celebrate, and take action.
The History of Juneteenth
Juneteenth, also called Freedom Day, African American Independence Day, Jubilee Day, or Emancipation Day, is a holiday celebrating emancipation from slavery in the United States. A combination of “June” and “nineteenth,” this day commemorates the proclamation of freedom for enslaved people in Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865.
During the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation became official on January 1, 1863. This was an executive order which declared that enslaved people in the Confederate states were free. However, it wasn’t until June 19,
1865— 2.5 years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued, and 2 months after the Civil War ended— that those enslaved in Galveston, Texas (the westernmost state in the Confederacy) were released from
slavery. On that day, approximately 2,000 Union troops led by Major-General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston to announce that the Civil War was over and that the 250,000+ enslaved people in Texas were officially free.
According to one account cited by Juneteenth of Buffalo: “On the evening of June 19, 1865, thousands flooded the streets of Galveston, rejoicing in their newly announced freedom. The sweet smell of barbecue smoke filled the air. Dancing feet pounded the dirt roads and harmonic voices sung spirituals. This was the day, Juneteenth, that would forever commemorate African American freedom.”
It is important to note, however, that while we celebrate Juneteenth as the end of slavery in the United States, it would take several more months to legally enforce it. Slavery was not formally abolished until December 6, 1865 with the passage of the 13th Amendment, which freed enslaved people in Union territory. 1
Nevertheless, June 19th is recognized as a day of liberation, as a commemoration of the end of chattel slavery in the United States. While celebrations of this day first began in Texas, they have since spread across the nation. Juneteenth has evolved into a way to pay homage to ancestors and celebrate Black culture, liberation, and the
achievements of Black Americans. This holiday also presents a powerful opportunity for critical reflection, social action, and examination of our progress towards racial equity and justice.
How can we honor and celebrate Juneteenth?
Note: There is an extensive collection of resources available online and in the community. Here are just a handful of ideas to get started.
Attend the Virtual Juneteenth Festival of Buffalo, June 19th-20th
Started in 1976 by B.U.I.L.D. Buffalo, Juneteenth of Buffalo ranks as the third largest in the country. Stay safe and take part in this year’s community celebration virtually!
Watch What is Juneteenth and Why Do We Celebrate?
This animated video from BrainPOP is suitable for a variety of age groups and explains the history of Juneteenth.
Visit the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center
The Center, located in Niagara Falls, NY, offers a collection of virtual and in-person learning resources
Read Five myths about Juneteenth | The Washington Post
This article by Afi-Odelia Scruggs dispels myths and misinformation surrounding the holiday and its history.
Pick up one (or all) of these Juneteenth books for audiences of all ages
Take part in the 21 Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge
Choose from a variety of books, articles, podcasts, videos, and anti-racism activities
Watch Ava DuVernay’s 13th for free online
This critically-acclaimed film explores the history of racial inequality in the U.S.
Sign the petition to make Juneteenth a national holiday
by Natalia R. Rice (she/her/hers), Equity Officer | New View Alliance
June is Pride Month! Keep reading to learn about how we can celebrate Pride and champion LGBTQ+ rights and equality not only this month, but all year long.
LGBTQ+ Pride Month is celebrated annually in June to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall Uprising. In the early morning of Saturday, June 28th, 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a bar in New York City’s Greenwich Village. The Stonewall Inn had become one of very few “safe” spaces for members of the city’s LGBTQ+ community, in particular LGBTQ+ youth who were homeless due to non-acceptance from families. The raid on Stonewall was not spontaneous, but rather the latest in a series of targeted raids and anti-LGBTQ+ harassment. In addition to arresting the bar’s employees, police officers singled out drag queens, cross-dressers, and transgender patrons for arrest.
In a display of “enough is enough,” bar patrons and community members fought back. These six days of protests, demonstrations, and conflicts with law enforcement would become known as the Stonewall Uprising (also known as the Stonewall Riots or Stonewall Rebellion). While historical accounts of Stonewall vary, the response marked a pivotal moment in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights, justice, and equality and is widely regarded as the catalyst for the modern LBGTQ+ rights movement. To honor and commemorate Stonewall, June was chosen as Pride Month.
While progress has been made for LGBTQ+ rights and equality, there is still much work to be done. Pride is a time to appreciate community and diversity, celebrate and honor the progress that has been made in the LGBTQ+ community, take action to continue the work towards intersectional equity and justice, and champion love, inclusivity, and unity.
A Handful of Resources to Honor, Commemorate, and Celebrate Pride:
Are you a “podcast person”? Here are a few listening choices:
May is Mental Health Awareness Month
Our Children’s Clinic of WNY is a program that really deserves to be highlighted for the amount of enthusiasm and effort they put into their work. The clinic, located in Niagara Falls, has been providing family centered, trauma informed treatment and outpatient mental health counseling to youth ages 5 – 21 years residing in Erie and Niagara counties since 2018. Services are currently offered in person, as well as via telehealth.
The clinic has 4 licensed clinicians total as well as a director and office manager, so six staff in total! The lead clinician, Michelle Volpe, is a Licensed Certified Art Therapist who looks for creative, innovative and evidence-based ways to meet the psychiatric needs of the youth.
Sherita Anderson-Bailey is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who focuses on families and their structure as a unit when targeting care. Jacqueline Chavers and Holly McCarty both have the credential of Licensed Master of Social Work and are flexible in addressing the mental health concerns of youth in any situation. Gretchen Goelhe recently moved back up to the clinic from another position within the agency, and currently serves as the Office Manager. Fun fact: Gretchen has been with New Directions for 15 years!
We want to give these amazing ladies a huge shout out for how they have continued to provide the trauma-informed care that our youth need.
If you or someone you know are interested in our clinic services, please call 716.300.8339!!
May is Foster Care Awareness Month!
We are so grateful for our amazing foster families! This month, in celebration of National Foster Care Month, we would like to spotlight Brooke & Dave Dezik!
How long have you been fostering/fostering with New Directions?
A little over 2 years
What made you want to get into fostering?
We wanted to have children of our own but that wasn’t possible. We looked into adoption and realized how many kids there were in our area who didn’t have families and thought we could provide a stable and loving home.
How many children do you have and/or currently fostering?
What is your favorite thing about fostering children?
I never realized how difficult fostering would be but our little one has changed our lives dramatically, for the better!
Thank you for fostering good!
If you are interested in learning more about mentoring, fostering, or adoption, please click here!
Celebrating Nurses’ Week!
Sarah Collins – LPN, Health Services Department at Randolph Campus
In honor of Nurse’s Week this month from May 6th through May 12th, we would like to recognize some of our terrific nursing staff! Sarah Collins is a humble and hardworking member of our Health Services Team down in Randolph! She began working with New Directions in December of 2018. When she was first working towards her certification, Sarah attended the E2CC BOCES nursing program in Ashville, NY, and obtained her LPN license. She is still working towards higher education by attending the University of Arizona Global Campus, majoring in Applied Behavioral Sciences. She also plans to continue on to receive her PsyD to become a Doctor of Psychology. Way to go, Sarah!
Sarah helps the youth at Randolph with medication management along with maintaining their medical and mental health care needs while in our care. She works diligently to keep families involved with this as well. To Sarah, this means keeping the youth healthy and safe, all while keeping the families up to date on their care so that they are informed and feel supported.
Sarah loves every part about working at New Directions. She appreciates how the agency stands behind its employees and encourages them to be a part of a team spanning all of Western New York. She believes that teamwork is amazing through all departments from the bottom all the way to the top and that this creates an invaluable network of support that not only is appreciated by staff, but by the youth and families we serve as well.
Sarah is known for being honest, cheerful and witty with her humor. She loves being outdoors. Hiking, kayaking, camping, going for walks on the beach, and spending time with family and friends are some of her favorite activities. She also loves gardening but will admit that she can’t keep flowers or vegetable plants alive to save her life!
Thank you for your continued dedication to the health of our youth, Sarah!
Melissa Adinolfe – Campus Nurse, Henrietta G. Lewis Campus School
Melissa is another amazing nurse that we have on staff here at New Directions! She takes care of youth on our Wyndham Lawn Campus in Lockport. She gained her nursing degree from NCCC in 2009. When Melissa first started with the agency in January of 2020, she was the only nurse on campus for both the residential program and school (H.G. Lewis) for the year. This broad position was especially challenging through a pandemic. In January of this year, when our non-secure program at Gateway was no more, Henry Huber, RN, accepted the residential position at Wyndham, taking some of the pressure off of Melissa’s shoulders. She has transitioned to being primarily the school nurse. She really appreciates the great teamwork and help he has brought to the table, as their work crosses over a lot!
Being a nurse for New Directions means that Melissa gets to do what she does best; helping kids stay healthy. She provides compassionate care for our youth often when they are at their worst or most vulnerable. Whether it be bandaging a physical injury, being available emotionally or for a positive influence mentally, Melissa is there for the kids. It means so much to her to try to help make a difference and show them there is someone who cares about their health and safety.
Melissa’s favorite part of working at New Directions is the people! From day one, all of the staff have been so welcoming and helpful and really made Melissa feel like part of the family. She loves that she gets to work in a place where great things are being done and where she can have fun at the same time.
When she is not at work, Melissa enjoys spending time with her husband of 10 years and their three young children. They are a very active family that enjoys camping, bonfires, hiking, kayaking and fishing – basically anything outdoors! Melissa also helps coach the tee-ball and wrestling teams that her kids are a part of.
Thank you, Melissa, for making sure that our school kids are healthy, safe and supported!
Celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week!
Heather Garis – Kindergarten Teacher, Henrietta G. Lewis Campus School
Heather Garis has been with New Directions since 2012. Heather received her Bachelor of Education from SUNY Fredonia and her Masters in Curriculum and Instruction from Buffalo State University. She began as a teacher’s assistant for the 2nd grade class, before becoming the kindergarten/1st grade teacher.
Heather currently serves as Elementary Team Leader, ensuring effective communication among the team, planning for events, delegating responsibilities, and helping her team members in any way possible. Within her kindergarten class, it is Heather’s responsibility to set her students on a path of success for the rest of their schooling, whether it be here at HGLCS or upon returning to their district school. She creates a nurturing learning environment and builds the framework for her students to feel successful in and love school and learning. It means a lot to Heather to be such an influence in her students’ emotional, social, and academic success.
Heather loves the passion that everyone at H. G. Lewis shares, for helping others as well as the team-mentality that her co-workers and administrators have shown toward each other and clients. She greatly values her growing experience in effective behavior management and trauma-informed care.
In her free time, Heather loves spending time with her husband and her 9-year-old son. She and her husband are superfans of 90’s band 311 and over the past 15 years, they have traveled across the country to see concerts and many “311 friends”.
Thank you for creating a vibrant and caring learning environment for our day students, Heather!
Shannon Zaranek – Elementary Teacher, Henrietta G. Lewis Campus School
Shannon has been with New Directions since 2012. She holds a BA in Elementary Education and MS in Literacy Education, both from Canisius College.
Shannon teaches students in a 6:1:1 setting. She differentiates and modifies curriculum to accommodate each student’s individual needs. Her lessons involve a lot of hands-on learning, movement, and music. Watching students grow academically and emotionally makes Shannon happy and feel like she is making a difference in their lives. Her class motto is: “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” It is all about modeling good character and positive thinking in Shannon’s class!
Shannon’s favorite part of working at New Directions is having a front row seat to watch the strides that her students have made throughout the years. It is extremely rewarding to help a student overcome a struggle and start to comprehend the material being taught and the life lessons taught to them in the classroom each day. She thinks that it is simply wonderful working and collaborating with the other staff members to help students progress and improve in all aspects of their lives. It is 100% a team effort at HGLCS!
In her spare time, Shannon enjoys hanging out with family and friends, watching her nieces and nephews play sports, working out and training at Shannon-Connors Fitness, binge-watching shows on Netflix and going for walks on nature trails. She is an all-around fun, energetic and loyal person! Shannon is a die-hard athlete and played Division 1 volleyball and received MAAC Athlete of the year. She even landed in the Athletic Hall of Fame at her high school, St. Mary’s in Lancaster.
Thanks for helping to shape bright futures, Shannon!
Julie Tomasi on Child Abuse Prevention Month
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month
Written by Julie Tomasi
National Child Abuse Prevention Month recognizes the importance of communities working together to help families thrive and prevent child maltreatment. There are formal and informal ways that child abuse and/or maltreatment can be prevented.
As mandated reporters we are very aware of the formal system that utilizes the State Central Registry (SCR) when you suspect abuse and/or maltreatment. We are fortunate to have very impactful New Directions Youth and Family Services, Inc. preventive services programs that many of our surrounding counties utilize that assist families. Another impactful program is our FAR program, Family Assessment Response, an alternative approach for handling calls made to the SCR has a positive impact on families.
During this unprecedented time of living through a pandemic, COVID-19 has had us re-think how we function individually and collectively for the health and safety of all of us. Taking a moment to reflect about child abuse prevention is much the same, we need to re-think it. It is a BIG and heavy topic and may leave us many times wondering how “I” will make a difference.
What can I do?
We make a difference when… we are in the store and there is a baby that is crying and a caregiver who is desperately trying to calm their child, who it seems you can hear from miles away, and you share a smile that gives a sense of being in those shoes in the past or a kind word and perhaps acknowledgement of how patient they are. IT makes a difference. YOU make a difference.
We can make a difference when…we are at a store and we listen to the cashier who is talking about long hours and challenging precautions they need to manage throughout their day. IT makes a difference. YOU make a difference.
We can make a difference when… we pass a co-worker in the hall, at the mailboxes or at the copy machine and when we say “hello, how are you” we take a moment and listen and spend time together not just hurrying past each other. IT makes a difference. YOU make a difference.
We can make a difference when… we see a child and we look at them; we talk to them to see how they are doing especially since COVID and their schooling and lives has been changed around. We listen and try to understand the changes that have occurred and the challenges they are facing. IT makes a difference. YOU make a difference.
We can make a difference when… we send a text to a co-worker, a friend, neighbor, or family member and just tell them “hello, I am thinking about you today”. IT makes a difference. YOU make a difference.
We can make a difference when…we see our neighbor and we say hello and we really listen when we ask how they are and if they need anything. We can offer to pick something up at the store and would be more than willing to assist them. IT makes a difference. YOU make a difference.
We can make a difference when…. we support our teachers who are with our youth and who have the chance to build relationships with them during the school year. When we encourage them to see the best in the students and to find ways to overcome the challenges. This is especially important while we are all enduring and being impacted by the pandemic. IT makes a difference. YOU make a difference.
We can make a difference when…. we listen to a grandparent who talks about seeing their grandchildren and perhaps how their health is challenged, and the grandchild have so much energy and spunk and how do they keep up. Or the grandparent who is unable to see their grandchildren and their sadness in this situation. We listen to their story. IT makes a difference. YOU make a difference.
During this time of COVID, we may not see our smiles on our faces, but see our faces with masks on and our “eyes smiling”. We may need to have conversations at a physically safe distance; however, we need to have them. We as professionals and mandated reporters are equally challenged by the changes of our world. We can share in the solutions; we can share in the ability to get through these times together.
We need to realize that in each interaction, every smile, every hello and asking, “how are you?”, and really taking the time to listen makes a difference. Each of those people you took a moment for are a child, a parent, a grandparent, an aunt, an uncle, a neighbor, and your moment of kindness will have a positive impact on them and their day and in turn truly fosters good for all!
We have the ability to provide that moment of truly listening and being kind, which makes the difference of between a moment of hope instead of hopelessness, a moment of realizing that I am not alone and part of something and a moment that helps us to keep moving ahead and not feel idle or stuck. All these moments can create an atmosphere of positive relationships and communities and builds a culture that prevents child abuse and puts a priority on caring about each other.
It makes a difference. YOU make a difference. Thank you for making a difference in the lives of the youth and families we have the privilege to serve and those who have the privilege to cross paths with you. IT makes a difference. YOU make a difference!
Julie A. Tomasi, LCSW-R, ACSW, is Chief Operations Officer Child Welfare Programs at New Directions Youth and Family Services, Inc.
March Staff Spotlights – Celebrating Social Work Month!
Maria Fabrizio – Licensed Behavioral Health Practitioner, Wyndham Lawn Residential
Maria began working for New Directions in 2013 when she joined the Wyndham Lawn team as a full-time Youth Counselor. Prior to this, she had obtained a bachelor’s degree with a dual major in Criminal Justice and Communications, from Canisius College. During her first few years at New Directions, Maria pursued her Master’s in Social Work from SUNY University at Buffalo.
After receiving her degree, Maria became the Residential Social Worker at Grigg Cottage. At that time, there was a Residential Social Worker in each building who was responsible for both the case management and clinical counseling. In 2019, the model shifted, bringing in case manager and Maria assumed the responsibility of clinical counseling for both residential cottages, as a Licensed Behavioral Health Practitioner.
In any of her roles Maria’s goal is to empower youth and families to be motivated and solution-focused. In doing so, she hopes clients gain insight about their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors with each other and within themselves and then to translate that insight into positive habits everyday.
Maria has been fortunate to have supervisors who are supportive of her strong sense of advocacy and helped her channel it effectively. She has also been fortunate to work alongside goal-oriented colleagues who have a strong sense of teamwork and support of each other. Maria is tenacious, knowledgeable, and compassionate. In her free time, Maria enjoys seeing family, reading and cooking.
Sue Moran – Clinical Social Worker, Randolph Residential
Sue began working for New Directions on the Randolph Campus in 2002. At that time, social workers held full case responsibilities. Now, there is a team approach that includes a clinician, a case manager, a permanency worker, and a court liaison.
Sue earned her Master’s degree in Social Work from SUNY at Buffalo. Sue is compassionate, organized and self-directed. She appreciates the team collaboration and peer feedback.
Through her work with each child and their family, Sue hopes that she can help their experience within the system to be a positive one at such a vulnerable point in their lives.
Sue is a very active person and in her free time she enjoys golf and yoga as well as spending time with family and friends. Sue also writes adoption home studies for the private sector.
This March, we would also like to highlight Sue Moran and Maria Fabrizio, two of our social workers, for all the great things they have done for the agency and our families!
Thank you both for fostering good!
Celebrating Women’s History Month – Mrs. Henrietta Grigg Lewis
In celebration of Women’s History Month and the 150th anniversary of the Lockport Ladies Relief Society (founders of Wyndham Lawn) we are excited to share the impact of two women, Mrs. Henrietta Grigg Lewis and Mrs. Ella Daniels Hodge.
Mrs. Henrietta Grigg Lewis was born in 1906 in Lockport, NY and attended the prestigious Ogontz School for Young Ladies in Pennsylvania. Shortly before her high school graduation, Mrs. Lewis lost her mother. She spent some time traveling with her father, and then married her husband, a widower, Curt, in 1936, she became a step-mother to his only son.
At the age of 28, Mrs. Lewis joined her soon-to-be mother-in-law, Mrs. Clara Bowlen Lewis on the Wyndham Lawn Home for Children Board of Directresses after the resignation of a member on June 6, 1934. It was one of the first boards Mrs. Lewis joined and she remained a director until her retirement in 1982 when she moved onto the Wyndham Associate Board. In addition to Wyndham Lawn, Mrs. Lewis was a great supporter of the Presbyterian Home, her church, the YWCA, and the Kenan Center. She enjoyed golf, but often told her fellow golfers that she played for enjoyment and not to win. Being an avid gardener, Mrs. Lewis spent her later years at the Presbyterian Home, walking around the facilities caring for the flowers and plants. More than anything, Mrs. Lewis loved music and theatre, having played many lead roles in her school’s dramatic club plays. It is perhaps, this love that led to her donate funds to establish a youth choir at her church, purchase a piano for the Lockport Country Club, and regularly donate performance tickets to the Junior League’s plays to the youth at Wyndham Lawn.
Always active in the community, humble and modest by nature, Mrs. Lewis made incredible contributions, both financially and with her time, and always provided help when she saw a need. She gave anonymously and generously as she believed her inherited money should benefit the community in which it had been made. Her lifelong commitment to the Lockport Community was further evidenced when she gifted her fortune to the local Foundation that carries her name and honors her philanthropic mission, so that her gifting would continue making an impact for many years to come.
Our organization would not be what it is today if it were not for the leadership, dedication, and support we received from Mrs. Lewis during her lifetime, and continue to receive from her legacy funds.
Be sure to check back later this month for the spotlight on Mrs. Ella Daniels Hodge and the founders of the Lockport Ladies Relief Society!
February Staff Spotlights
Brandi Robinson – Program Coordinator- Chautauqua County Agency Operated Boarding Home (CCAOBH)
Brandi has worked for New Directions since 2000. She is the head of our extremely dedicated AOBH team in Falconer. As program coordinator she oversees the care of kids age 15 to 21 who live in the group home.
Brandi was initially hired as a youth counselor at Zafron Home for Pregnant and Parenting Teens, where she assisted young mothers. Eventually, she moved into the role of assistant supervisor of Zafron. In 2018, she transferred over to the Chautauqua County Agency Operated Boarding Home to become the coordinator. Brandi’s work involves interviewing and admitting youth for the Chautauqua House program, enrolling them in the required education and the other programs available to them, conducting individual meetings with youth, and coordinating visits with families. Brandi also oversees the staff at CCAOBH. She says that they are an amazing team that works diligently to better the life of every youth they serve.
Brandi is loyal, honest and dependable. These attributes make her a great leader and help her to provide the most nurturing environment possible for the kids at CCAOBH. She is the proud mother of a 16-year-old and a 6-year-old and loves spending time with them and the rest of her family. She loves coupon hunting! Brandi loves a good deal and is known to be the best person at New Directions to ask for a coupon or discount code. Before working with New Directions, Brandi cultivated her love of working with kids and families working at Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL!
This February, we honor Brandi for her dedication to supporting children, families and staff!
Thank you for fostering good, Brandi!
Laurie Robb – Youth Support Specialist Supervisor, Westons Mills Agency Operated Boarding Home (WMAOBH)
Laurie began her journey at New Directions in 2003 when she came onboard as a Youth Counselor at the Westons Mills Agency Operated Boarding Home Cattaraugus County. After three years, she was promoted to Senior Youth Counselor, and then became the Program Coordinator for Westons Mills in 2008.
Laurie is a leader, a team-player, a role model, a coordinator, a motivator, a supporter, a documenter, a collaborator, and a planner all rolled into one! She partners with families, youth, DSS staff, New Directions staff, school districts, community service providers and community resources to get the kids in her program the most tailored care possible. It gives her great satisfaction to be part of a multi-faceted group that promotes the best possible desired outcomes for youth, families and the agency. Laurie’s favorite part about her work is hearing back from former WMAOBH youth and learning of their success and their adventures since they’ve moved on from the program.
Laurie is a real go-getter. She enjoys reading and learning new things, kayaking and enjoying the beautiful weather when she can, and her more recent hobby of iPhone photography. One thing that’s unique about Laurie is that she’s a blackbelt in Shotokan Karate. Laurie is also looking for a new canine friend! She wants to adopt a rescue dog in need of a loving, comfortable home.
This month, we’d like to recognize Laurie for her dedication to supporting children, families and staff!
Thank you for fostering good, Laurie!