The Voices of New Directions

Veteran’s Day Employee Spotlight

POSTED: 11.10.20 | CATEGORY:

Christopher R. Freligh
Randolph Residential Youth Support Specialist
United States Marine Corps Veteran

I joined six months after graduating high school. I was on lunch break one afternoon and I started to think about what I was doing with myself and how I turned out just like everyone else had. I realized I needed to do something to change my life around. So, I decided to join a military branch and become a better version of myself. Now nearly every male member of my family has served in the military, but only two to my knowledge joined the United States Marine Corps. I quit my job two weeks after that and drove to the nearest Marine Corps recruiter’s office to join.

Boot camp was basically thirteen weeks in hell. I joined using the buddy system, which means you got to go through boot camp with a friend who also joined. During those thirteen weeks the drill instructors did their best to break us down into nothing and to mold us back up into a basically trained Marine. It was the toughest thirteen weeks of my entire life; nothing has come close to topping it. There were times I questioned why I chose this route, and what purpose did my life serve. About seven weeks in my mindset changed and I realized things wouldn’t always be this way and if I could make it through this nothing else could phase me. I soon became part of a brotherhood that has stood the test of time, since November 10th 1775, and would carry on for many generations to come. After graduating boot camp, I stood a little taller, held my head high with pride, and carried myself with a sense of honor most men could only dream of. To this day I’m still standing tall.

I served at Marine Corps base Camp Pendleton, CA just North of San Diego. During my time on base, I worked most often in the armory and as a mechanic in the motor pool per my MOS 3531, motor transportation operator. Always more work to be done then you had time for but somehow found the time to do it.

I feel as though my service in the military has given me a better viewpoint on life and prepared me for hardships to come later in life. If I hadn’t joined, I don’t think I would be the same person I am today or be where I am today. Before the military I was a shy young man who didn’t like being around other people, wasn’t outspoken or very forward thinking. I think back to those days and wonder how I was ever that person. And then I remember, without all the people I’ve met and all the experiences I had I would’ve never become who I am today. Even now as an adult I am still learning and growing with every new experience.

My advice to the young men and women who are thinking about joining the military or are just wondering about it, I say this; If you want to travel and see the world for all it has to offer then join. If you want to become a symbol of hope to your country then join. Just remember, that if you are going to join, do it for yourself above all else. Doesn’t matter what military branch you choose. You as a person will change for the better and your viewpoints will change as well. Military life teaches you how to respect others, even the enemy. How to be courageous when in a tight spot, and to be the better person and help those who need you the most, no matter the cost. It is a life course with high winds and rough seas, but if you can weather it, you’ll become a better version of yourself.

The military has a few parallels with New Directions. They both do their best to instill a set of principals that will further a persons growth and hopefully point that person in a “new direction”. They have people (staff) in place to help the younger generations move forward in their lives and are always there for them when needed. We may not be their parents or guardians, but we do our best to go above and beyond the call of duty, such as is in the military. Working with children is really pretty awesome, getting to see them grow and mature, being there when they experience new things. Nothing beats that.

October Staff Spotlight


Curtis Paige – Youth Counselor/Mecorney Cottage

Curtis is a truly caring and hard-working member of our team up at Wyndham Lawn! He’s been with us at New Directions for 4 years, starting in the fall of 2016.

Before joining the staff, Curtis received his Bachelors’ degree in Social Work from ECC North Campus. He cites his position as always being “unique and
challenging,” but also allowing him to do what he loves most on the job; creating a safe, nurturing environment for the youth that he cares so much about.

Over the years, he’s learned that compassion, kindness and stability are the keys to showing kids how to form healthy relationships, and always puts these factors into play during his work with the youth at Mecorney Cottage. Making connections with the kids and watching them grow as people are so rewarding for Curtis and are just a few of the reasons why he loves his position so much. He always has to be on his toes, adaptable and resilient in his work, and his supervisors really appreciate how calm he is in tough situations and how he fosters stability on campus. Curtis loves
to read, write and travel, while also spending quality time with his two beautiful daughters.

Thank you so much for all of your hard work these past 4 years fostering good futures, Curtis!

Affiliation Agreement Places New View Alliance into Top Ten of WNY Non-Profits

POSTED: 10.29.20 | CATEGORY:

News Release
For Immediate Release
October 28, 2020



Contact: Joseph Gallagher
New View Alliance / VP Operations
(716) 529-1237


Affiliation Agreement Places New View Alliance into Top Ten of WNY Non-Profits

To meet the challenges of a complex and rapidly changing service environment, Gateway-Longview, Inc., and New Directions Youth & Family Services, Inc, have joined in a strategic affiliation with the creation of a new parent company,  New View Alliance, Inc., which is now among the 10 largest non-profits in Western New York.

As the parent company, New View Alliance provides oversight, strategic planning and advocacy for both affiliated agencies, each of which will continue to operate as individual service entities but with a shared strategic vision. The affiliation also allows for the parent company to provide shared administrative support for finance, human resources, information technology and corporate integrity.

With this change, James W. Coder, CEO of New Directions now serves as the CEO of New View Alliance, Carolyne DeFranco, President/CEO of Gateway-Longview as the President of New View Alliance, Michael Ervin, Freed Maxick CPAs, P.C., as Board Chairperson, and Nanette Skudlarek as the Administrative Assistant.

In the parent-affiliate model, each agency maintains its individual programming and community relationships, ensuring that both organizations remain strong, vital partners with county and state governments, schools and other community service organizations.

“Using the inherent advantages for collaboration and innovation that this new structure provides,  the creation of New View Alliance allows for the entire organization to have a stronger voice in advocating for the people we serve and for greater efficiencies in the operation of services,” says Coder.

Leading the shared administrative services are: Pamela Rouse, NVA VP of Corporate Integrity and Quality Improvement; Michael Kelly, NVA VP of Finance; Dr. Larry Perry, NVA VP of Information Technology and Security; Erin Bice, NVA VP of Human Resources; and Joseph Gallagher, NVA VP of Operations.

“Most importantly, this provides wider access to the outstanding programs provided by both agencies, helps us to improve our practices and allows families and youth to achieve even better outcomes resulting in healthier, more successful and enjoyable lives,” says DeFranco.

With the affiliation, New View Alliance will oversee a combined budget of over $50 million, 925 staff, and 46 service programs. With offices in all eight counties of Western New York, it also provides significant Committee on Special Education services to children from downstate New York, including New York City and Long Island. Last year over 10,000 children and families received services including residential care, foster care, therapeutic pre-school, special education, care coordination, community-based services, school-based clinical services and behavioral health clinics.

For more information about Gateway-Longview, please visit .

For more information about New Directions, please visit

-END –

September Staff Spotlight


Marcia Kramarczyk – HGL Campus School Social Worker

This month, we recognize a member of the Henrietta G. Lewis Campus School staff who has been serving New Directions for over 40 years, Marcia Kramarczyk! Marcia is a Day School Social Worker and she cares deeply about Wyndham Lawn, its history, and the students she works with. Marcia provides weekly sessions for kids who need one-on-one attention in their schooling, along with their families.

Marcia completed a competitive Social Work program at Brockport State College and went on to pursue her master’s degree at the University of Chicago. Immediately after receiving her degree, Marcia gained plenty of experience from the encouraging supervisory team at Illinois State Psychiatric Center.


Moving back to WNY, Marcia started with Wyndham Lawn as a Care Coordinator at Mecorney Cottage, where she provided both family and group treatment for residents. She had a big role in the growth of both the day- and evening-child care teams, along with the help of her supervisor and social work assistant. Her work with such passionate individuals led Marcia to further her knowledge in social work and strive further to help kids.

Marcia appreciates all the valuable feedback she received from her supervisors and fellow coworkers over the years and says she is humbled to work alongside such talented, energetic, humorous, selfless and committed minds! Marcia loves discovering the potential in the kids she works with and helping them to cultivate it. She cites it as a major factor in her happiness, quoting James M. Barrie’s line from Peter Pan, “Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.”

In her free time, Marcia volunteers at the Graycliff Conservancy, which works to preserve the Darwin Martin house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1926. Marcia is truly a wealth of knowledge and understanding, and makes a positive impact at H.G. Lewis Campus School, striving to nurture the growth of our kids every step of the way.

Thank you, Marcia, for setting a terrific example and for the guidance and dedication you show students!

Coping with Back-to-School Anxiety


By Christine Jaimes, LCSW-R, Clinical Director
New Directions Childrens Clinic of WNY

Back-to-school is usually a time of excitement and it’s normal for kids to experience some degree of anxiety as a new school year approaches. However, this year, COVID-19 may add to those stresses as children worry about themselves or their loved ones becoming ill. Normal routines will change as schools take precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The uncertainty of the situation and changes in routine can cause many students – and parents – to feel stressed and anxious.

Kids may ask, “Will I get sick? Will my teachers? How will class be different?”
Many parents are having a harder time dealing with COVID-19 than their children, and some of the anxiety that kids are experiencing may be inadvertently passed on by worried parents. As parents, we need to be modeling for our kids how to react to stressful times by coping with anxiety in healthy ways. Be mindful of the present and stay focused on facts. Be smart about what you are reading. Make sure it is helpful and not full of doomsday kind of stories. Stay calm. Rely on routines. Establishing a routine that involves exercise, regular meals and healthy amounts of sleep is also crucial to regulating our moods and our worries.

You can also set aside time to regularly practice mindfulness, which is a way to help stay grounded and calm. YouTube has a variety of meditation and guided imagery videos. Parents can practice mindfulness alone or with children. You can’t control the future, but you can take charge of the present.

Children may show their anxiety in different ways. You know your child best, so be on the lookout for changes in your child’s behavior and mood, such as:

  • Increased defiance or irritability
  • Disturbances in sleep
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lack of concentration
  • Less energy
  • Physical symptoms like nausea, muscle tension or dizziness
  • Refusal to go to school
  • Sadness or crying

What can parents do to help their children?

  • Check in with your child frequently and listen to their concerns. Make sure to validate their emotions, letting them know that their concerns and frustrations are understandable.
  • Help your child focus on what they can control in the fight against the pandemic, such as hand washing, wearing a face mask and practicing social distancing.
  • Ensure your child is getting enough sleep, being physically active and eating healthy food to support a healthy body and mind.
  • Encourage your child to do more of what they enjoy most, whether reading, playing outside or other activities.
  • Explain to your child what you do know about what the school year or classroom will look like to help them mentally prepare.
  • Help your child adjust to COVID-19 precautions such as wearing a face mask by practicing at home. It is okay to empathize with your child if they find wearing a mask uncomfortable. Let them know that although it can be unpleasant at times, wearing a mask is an important way we can help protect others.
  • Set up ways for your child to continue to socialize safely with their friends over the phone or video chat, especially if they participate in distance learning.
  • Teach your child breathing exercises they can do when they feel anxious.

August Staff Spotlight


Lynda France – Human Resources Assistant / Hiring Coordinator

The Staff Spotlight would like to recognize a vital member of the Human Resources Department, Lynda France! Lynda has been working at the Randolph Campus since 2003, starting as a part- time HR Assistant, but soon moving to full-time after picking up a part-time Health Services Secretary role as well. She is an alumnus of both Jamestown Community College as well as Jamestown Business College, gaining an Associates in Computer Technology and an Office Administration Diploma from each respectively.

Lynda handles much of the hiring process down at Randolph, including advertising positions and running background checks on new hires. She makes sure that each perspective employee is a good fit for the organization and that all open roles continue to be filled. She also assists HR Manager Nanette whenever she needs help. Lynda loves that she is able to help applicants find the career-path they’ve been searching for, all the while getting them through the process quickly so that they can start as soon as possible and making sure they understand their benefits. She is grateful for her boss Nanette, along with the rest of her trusty HR team. In her free time, Lynda enjoys spoiling her children and granddaughter, and spending time in the great outdoors kayaking and gardening.

Thank you so much for all the hard work you put in on a daily basis, Lynda!

June Staff Spotlight!


Christine Butcher, Southern Tier Care Manager Supervisor
Children’s Health Home Care Management Program

Are you missing baseball season? So is Chrissy Butcher! Chrissy’s love for baseball stems back to childhood when she watched minor league baseball in Jamestown. She then worked at Jamestown’s stadium and watched several players move up to the major leagues. Chrissy joined New Directions in 1999, working on the Randolph Residential Campus then as the program coordinator for Chautauqua House Agency Operated Boarding Home.

Chrissy joined the Health Home Care Management team when it started in 2016.  As Care Manager Supervisor, Chrissy leads a team of 6 care managers while continuing to work directly with families. Chrissy is proud to work with her dedicated Care Managers. She enjoys helping kids recognize their own potential and seeing them succeed. Chrissy enjoys spending time with her family, reading, and sports.

“I have met and worked with some incredible people at New Directions who have helped shape who I am today!” – Chrissy Butcher


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

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!

A Generational Legacy of Fostering and Adoption


Fostering and adoption is a legacy for Lisa and her family. At just three years old her beloved Aunt Sallyann adopted a little girl, and from that moment Lisa knew one day she wanted to do the same.

Lisa grew up, married her husband, had five biological children, and fulfilled her lifelong dream, adopting four children and fostering more than 10 children in long-term placements.

Lisa had adopted a little girl from Sierra Leone during the time of their civil war, when she learned another little girl from the same country was in need. That’s how Lisa and her family found New Directions. New Directions’ trauma-informed training and exceptional staff gave Lisa the support and guidance she needed to help her foster children in healing the trauma they endured.

“They have always been a wonderful advocate for us as foster parents, and even bigger advocates for the kids. They know these kids so well, and understand their needs. They are able to find families that are the right fit for the kids. There are a lot of kids out there that need a family, and then, of course you just fall in love with them all,” Lisa explained.

When Lisa’s eldest Daughter, Lydia was in her early twenties, she became a certified foster parent so she could help her mom by providing respite when she needed a break. Her plan was to provide respite sporadically on the weekends. That plan changed rather quickly when a teenage girl she knew, a sibling of some kids her mom had fostered, needed a placement. The teen had been through 17 foster homes by the time she came to Lydia, and that’s when things changed. She said “If I’m in this, I’m in it. Knowing the history of how many foster homes she had been through, I told myself this is it. I’m not giving up on this girl. Many kids will tell you, leaving their families is hard and traumatizing, but the worst thing is being sent away over and over again. I wasn’t going to do that.” Lydia adopted her eldest daughter, Kassie, when she was 19 years old. She went on to adopt four more children. Her first two were older teenagers, and then she adopted a sibling group aged 9 years to one years old.

Lydia explained all kids have different levels of need and ways they want to be supported. There is never a one shoe fits all approach in loving and helping children heal and flourish. The youngest sibling group had endured significant trauma and neglect. Her nine year old had significant developmental delays due to the neglect, and doctors told Lydia she would never catch up to her peers. Today, her daughter is 17 years old, an honor roll student, playing multiple sports including track and bowling, and loves to play her flute. She’s applying to colleges, has a job, and is excited about her future. One moment that stood out to Lydia recently was when she daughter was looking at colleges and different majors. She turned to Lydia and said “This is hard trying to figure out what I want to be, because I can do anything I want!”

Fostering and adoption is so ingrained in their family, and they love every minute of it. “There is such a significant need for foster and adoptive parents. I think many people want to do a good thing, but may not understand the high level of need these kids have from the trauma they’ve endured. My youngest was moved six times before she turned one year old. That still affects her. There is so much loss and you just have to be there with them through it. You can’t have the mentality of ‘I’m going to save you.’ Understanding it may not be what you expect, and it will be tough, but it is also so unbelievably rewarding and you just love these kids so much.” Lydia now works for New Directions as a parent trainer. It is her passion to empower children and families heal and build on their strengths.

Kassie now has a family of her own and is continuing the family legacy of fostering and adoption. She currently is fostering four children. For their family, they hear of a kid, or know of a need, and they want to be a support for that child.

Aunt Sallyann was the eldest daughter in her family, Lisa the eldest daughter in hers, and so on with Lydia, and Kassie. A family legacy of fostering and adoption four generations strong.


Aunt Sallyann and her husband      Lisa (center) with her six oldest children      Lisa’s youngest three children

Child Abuse Prevention During the Pandemic


In thinking about child abuse and neglect prevention and awareness, I am overwhelmed by the reality of how too often one can find themselves in a situation of helplessness and survival mode. Throughout this pandemic, many caregivers find their world has turned upside down with supports, routines, and normalcy pulled out from under them.

We are being asked to adapt during a time of limbo and find ways to complete our “usual” tasks while taking on new ones. Some caregivers must continue to go to work, learn to work at home, or attend school while making sure the children are home-schooled, safe and fed, and oh, are also entertained enough to not continuously tell you how bored they are!

We are all concerned about finances and no one has extra help or supports coming in at this time. Grandparents? Friends? Family Members? Nope! Even essential professionals are limited in their capacity and ability to come into your home.

I often find myself struggling to keep up with the necessary tasks of the day, and not even getting to the “hopes” I have for myself now that I am home more often. My own mental health is being tested through this difficult, ever-changing time. I have feelings of guilt when I am too quick to express my frustration with my children. I am sad that I am not taking my children outside as often as I think I should. I worry about my daughter’s speech regressing without the aid of speech therapy. However, I have great worry for parents and caregivers who are being stressed and stretched to the max – I worry that some may react in a way they would not normally. For, when in “survival mode”, one cannot expect to function the same as we did before the pandemic.

This entire situation has made me rethink how parents with limited support before this pandemic, made it day-by-day, parenting in a “survival mode” every day. Who did they go to for support? How did they make sure their own self-care needs were met? How did they appropriately respond to their children’s needs among competing demands? Who grew up in “survival mode”?

Child abuse and neglect is the result of many different factors, yet I believe one of the main factors is what many parents are now feeling during this difficult time: our expectations (either our own or from others) exceed our abilities to meet even basic needs. During this time, more and more parents are struggling with how to make it through, wondering how they are going to have the endurance to continue, until conditions improve.
If I may, I’d like to lend some encouragement to help us through this stressful parenting time:

  1. Strip your life of all things that are not necessary and get back to the basics. Examine your needs as a human and a parent and focus only on finding solutions to those needs. Now is not the time to add extra pressures and demands. Solidly creating a foundation of needs that is continually being met, flourishes into a life with feelings and thoughts of purpose, fulfillment, and accomplishment. Then, you will begin to discover the “wants” or “hopes” you can handle and add them in.
  2.  Give and receive grace to and from your children and family. As humans, we continually fail others and others fail us. “Love them anyway” as Mother Teresa says. Implement grace into your family and model this trait for your children.
  3. Encourage other parents and caregivers not to cling to what they are doing “wrong” but cling to what they are doing well! During this pandemic we are omitting many “extras” in our lives and have a chance to think about what is important.
  4. Encourage one another to think about how we can either:
    a) find ourselves becoming increasingly angry and frustrated with our children and ourselves for how we think our lives “should” be (what we should be accomplishing, how many things we could be learning, etc.), or
    b) use this time of quarantine to be thankful for those in our lives and envision the “new normal” we want, after this quarantine. What activities do we want to do with our children? What type of self-care needs are extremely important that we as caregivers need, in order to function well? How often do we carve out family time? Times with friends? Times with extended family? What do I want my children to learn from my example?

Through the rest of this pandemic and after it is over, my goals are 1) to not revert to my old ways of perceiving others through their difficulties but to listen and hear if their needs are being met, validate their difficulties, and encourage others to take care of themselves in order to better care for their children and families, and 2) to make sure the important things in my life are of highest priority. We can have such an exciting, purposeful, and fulfilling life if we are able to use this time to learn about what we view as important, all the while modeling for our children and family how to have the same for theirs.

So, as we continue into week 7 of quarantine, I encourage everyone to examine their thoughts and feelings, strip away all that is not needed, and do well to meet your own needs as a parent and a human, and encourage your family, friends, and clients to do the same. Then we can begin to reduce frustrations with ourselves and our families and have a better understanding of others by stating what they need to survive and thrive.


– Amanda B. Brittin, LMSW
Family Engagement Supervisor

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