UConnectCare Foundation Awards Four Scholarships, Recognizes Individuals, Agencies as ‘Friends’

May 24, 2021 | UConnectCare

By Mike Pettinella

Two senior class members from Charles D’Amico High School in Albion and one from Pavilion Central School were honored with Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Foundation scholarships today during the organization’s annual meeting via Zoom videoconferencing.

Melissa Robinson and Madelin Tabor of Albion and Madison Maniace of Pavilion each will receive $1,000 toward their college education once they complete their fall semester at their chosen colleges.

The UConnectCare Foundation also honored an adult student, who wished to remain anonymous, with a $1,000 award.

The scholarship was established to provide financial support to individuals pursuing their education at an institution of higher learning in the fields of human services or social services for the purpose of contributing to improving community health. One goes to a Genesee County student, one to an Orleans County student, one to a technical student and one to an adult student.

Melissa Robinson, who will be attending Nazareth College in the fall to study nursing, was involved in numerous school and community activities, including Future Farmers of America, basketball, tennis, cross country, pit orchestra, 4-H, dance and horseback riding. In her application, she emphasized the importance of community service and being active in her church, adding that growing up on a farm helped her to learn the value of hard work and dedication.

Madelin Tabor, who plans to attend Niagara University in the fall to study nursing, also will be graduating from Orleans Niagara BOCES, where she is a health occupations technician student. She, too, has been involved in various activities, including horseback riding, 4-H, sailing, soccer, cheerleading and dance. In her application, she said her quiet demeanor and sharp sense of humor will serve her well in helping people with medical emergencies.

Madison Maniace, who is going on to Rochester Institute of Technology’s bachelor’s/master’s degree Physician Assistant Program in the fall, also will be graduating from Genesee Valley BOCES Health Careers Academy. Her extracurricular activities include competition dance, yearbook club, literary club, debate team, Spanish club, varsity soccer and varsity track, as well as community service. In her application, shared a very personal story that inspired her to pursue an occupation where she can support and comfort others in their time of need.


Various UConnectCare departments nominated individuals and organizations with Friends of UConnectCare Awards.

Recipients are as follows:

Jeremy Barber, Friend of UConnectCare Residential Services

Nicole Davis, director of Residential Services, presented the award to Barber, a Genesee County senior probation officer.

Davis recognized Barber for being “extremely patient and supportive during a particularly tough year” and continuing to meet with residents either by telephone or in the UConnectCare parking lot, adhering to social distancing guidelines. She added that he made himself available to staff and residents and contributed significantly to the agency’s efforts in helping those in recovery.

Greater Rochester Health Foundation, Friend of UConnectCare Prevention

Christen Ferraro, coordinator of the GOW Opioid Task Force, presented the award to the GRHF, which was represented by Matthew Kuhlenbeck, president and chief executive officer.

Ferraro recognized the GRHF for providing grant funding for two Prevention Department employees to continue working following March 2020 when COVID-19 caused economic uncertainty. She said that the foundation kept the communication lines open throughout the year and provided stability to the Prevention Department during the pandemic.

Dennis Romero, Friend of UConnectCare Genesee Treatment

John Bennett, executive director, presented the award to Dennis Romero, Region 2 administrator for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Bennett said that Romero played a pivotal role in helping UConnectCare establish a drive-thru methadone clinic during the pandemic, allaying the agency’s fears that it wouldn’t be able to sufficiently serve the 180 or so people in recovery due to the social distancing and room capacity restrictions.

Romero, a high-level federal employee, responded to an email by Bennett seeking assistance in hosting a drive-thru setup using the agency’s mobile clinic and worked diligently to get approval for the alternate site. Bennett said Romero “was very humble, helpful and kind at every turn.”

Orleans County Emergency Management Office, Friend of UConnectCare Orleans Treatment

Allison Parry-Gurak, director of Treatment Services, Albion Clinic, presented the award to the Orleans County Emergency Management Office and its deputy director, Justin Niederhofer.

Parry-Gurak recognized Orleans County EMO for providing personal protective equipment – hand sanitizer, masks, gloves and no-touch thermometers – “at a time when this was very difficult to obtain and all at no cost to the agency.”

She said Orleans County EMO’s contributions were extremely vital to the operation in Orleans County as it strived to ensure the safety of staff and clients.

Recovery Coach University, Friend of UConnectCare Recovery Services

Rosalie Mangino-Crandall, director of Project Innovation and Expansion, presented the award to Recovery Coach University of Rochester, represented by founder Lori Drescher and social worker Keith Greer.

Mangino-Crandall recognized RCU for its work in training and coaching UConnectCare’s recovery peers, recovery coaches and peer supervisors, while also providing training for other staff members, individual supervision, group supervision and technical assistance.

She added that RCU has made a profound impact upon UConnectCare employees who work with those in recovery, giving them the tools they need to make a positive difference in others’ lives.


The board elected two new directors, Batavians Kattie Cotter and Tom Kinsey, to initial three-year terms.

Cotter is a former teacher and now serves as a family advocate for Head Start and is a member of the Council for Independent Living, while Kinsey has been involved with Community Action of Orleans/Genesee, and currently is a reporting analyst at Genesee Community College in the Office of Institutional Research.

Also, current director Tim Batzel, business administrator at Alexander Central School, was elected as the new vice president, replacing Victoria Elsenheimer, who along with Linda Knipe has stepped down after serving two three-year terms.

Fred Rarick, a Batavia attorney, was elected to a second three-year term on the board.

Officers for 2021-22 are incumbent Virginia Taylor, president; Batzel, vice president, and Rarick, secretary-treasurer.