Clifford Whitman

The aging services network of Western New York lost a pioneer and innovator in the field of aging with the loss of Clifford Whitman.  Clifford E. Whitman, died on July 28, 2015 at the age of 80.

Cliff Whitman earned his Master of Social Work from Syracuse University and served as Erie County’s first Commissioner on Aging from 1971-1988.  During his tenure as Commissioner, Cliff helped lay the foundation for countless critical services to older adults such as congregate dining, Going Places transportation, home-delivered meals, case management, adult protective services, legal assistance, and many other community-based services that helped seniors maintain their independence.

In the early 1980s, Cliff worked with Dr. Evan Calkins and other aging advocates to develop the framework and mission of the Network in Aging of WNY, Inc. and he was elected as the organization’s third president.  In 1993, the Network in Aging presented Cliff with the Dr. Evan Calkins Meritorious Service Award.

Over the years, Cliff earned the distinction of being a strong advocate for the elderly and served on many local boards including Legal Services for the Elderly (now Center for Elder Law & Justice) which presented him with their Vision Award in 2006.  He was recognized nationally and elected president of the Advisory Committee of the Columbia University Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology.  Following his years of service as Commissioner of Senior Services, Cliff served as Executive Director of a local not for profit, Concerned Ecumenical Ministry from 1989-1995 and following that he became the Director of the Bristol Home Assisted Living facility.

Cliff’s passion for serving the elderly did not diminish in his later years.  During his semiretirement, he worked as a part-time social worker for Amherst Meals on Wheels and enjoyed serving as a field supervisor for students pursuing their Master of Social Work.  His passion for community services also continued as he devoted countless hours as a board member and grounds manager for his beloved Graycliff Conversancy.

For over 45 years, Cliff made an indelible mark on the field of aging and long-term care and the Network in Aging is proud to recognize his lifetime of achievements.

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Karen A. Andruschat

Karen A. Andruschat, RN, long-time member and friend of the Network in Aging passed away on March 6, 2013.

With an infectious smile and stories to tell, Karen A. Andruschat cared for people in need no matter what her job was.  A registered nurse, she cared for the elderly in an East Aurora nursing home and later ran a People Inc. group home for disabled people on Grand Island. She was more widely known for her leadership at the Center for Hospice and Palliative Care, where she retired as director of clinical marketing in 2005.

  1. Donald Schumacher, president and chief executive of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization in Alexandria, VA said … “Karen had the kind of personality she could get along with just about anybody. Karen was known to talk to groups as small as five and as large as 500 to educate doctors and the public about Hospice. She succeeded in talking to families without frightening them about a Hospice referral and she was an incredibly good teacher and a strong advocate for patients and families.”

Born Karen A. Rabe in South Buffalo, she graduated from South Park Hight School and Mercy Hospital School of Nursing.  Karen’s role at the Network in Aging included Communication Committee chair and serving on the board of directors.

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Nancy A. Tulumello

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Nancy A. Tulumello

Nancy A. Tulumello, LMSW, a long-time friend, co-worker, and champion passed away on March 15, 2013 after a courageous battle with cancer.

Nancy was a senior social worker at the Research Foundation at the University at Buffalo.  Nancy earned a bachlor’s degree at D’Youville College and a master’s in social work from the University at Buffalo.  She worked for the Alzheimer’s Disease Assistance Center and Kaleida Health Geriatric Center of Western New York.

Nancy compassionately and professionally gave her extraordinary talents to those facing memory impairing illness, by coaching, comforting and supporting thousands of people along the way.  For those of you who knew Nancy, you came to understand that her reliability, ingenuity, strength and expertise in the field was critical.  Her strength, heart, and warmth were invaluable to those she touched.  Family members said that “through her work on the Erie County Caregivers Coalition and the Network in Aging and as a certified social worker,” she championed the right and needs of caregivers.

Nancy taught countless social workers through her teaching at the State University of New York at Buffalo.  Her reach was boundless, her caring without limits and her legacy of care and excellence were invaluable.

Nancy received the Carl Naish Award in appreciation for her dedication to Millard Fillmore College students.  She was also honored by the Alzheimer’s Association in 2011 with the W.P. Gillick Quality of Life Award.  Nancy’s role at the Network in Aging included Secretary, Nominating Committee Chair and serving on the board of directors.

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Laura A. Mondello

On June 25, 2014 we lost our dear friend and colleague, Laura A. Mondello.  Laura touched so many of us in the senior community.  Her exceptional leadership and skills in communication, marketing, and public relations helped to advance the field of aging in our community.

As Director of Community Relations and Volunteer Services for Schofield Residence for the past 17 years, Laura promoted and hosted many community education workshops aimed at raising awareness of issues facing older adults and their caregivers.  She was a strong proponent of collaboration by networking with other professionals in the field of aging and helped launch and elevate the Schofield Adult Wellness Program, which has improved overall health and well-being of older adults.  Her commitment to and passion for this program and other community education awareness programs helped earn Laura the coveted Alzheimer’s Association of WNY “Community Service Award” in 2012.

Laura’s commitment to the Network in Aging for over 25 years was nothing less than extraordinary.  Her expertise, innovation and passion played a huge part in molding the strategic direction of the organization.  Laura’s roles within the Network in Aging included serving as a board member for 18 years, chairing the Communications Committee for 14 years, serving as President from 2006-2008, and as Past President from 2009-2012.  During her term as President, Network membership increased substantially.

Other accomplishments include active membership in the Erie County Caregivers Coalition for many years; instructor for “Powerful Tools for Caregivers” and serving as member and Co-Chair of the Public Relations Committee of Leading Age WNY (formerly WTNAHSA).  Laura also hosted and produced the monthly television program “Aging is for Everyone” (WKBW-TV) which reinforces how to make the most out of the aging process and promotes awareness of programs and services offered to older adults to maintain their lifestyle.  Some of her guests included a distinguished group of community leaders and professionals who promote awareness and solutions to complex issues facing the elderly community.

The following are sentiments shared from some of Laura’s colleagues and friends:

Past NIA President Bob Wills says … Laura was a great mentor and wonderful friend.  Her love and devotion to the field of aging was infectious.  I knew I was learning from the best when I approached Laura.  I miss her dearly but know that her spirit in everywhere encouraging us to continue doing good work from the heart.

Co-worker Leilani Pelletier remembers Laura … as always knowing how to work through challenging situations with a sense of humor and an eye toward the best a situation could be.  I admired her strength, her grace, her skill and her unending selflessness in sharing her time and talent with the world.  Because of Laura, thousands of seniors had a better community in which to live and a champion for them in countless ways.

Good friend Anne Binga says … I wish I had Laura’s gift with words to try and express the extraordinary woman she was.  Laura has always been an advocate, fighting passionately for what she believed in.  After graduating, Laura combined her strong communication skills along with her deep commitment to help older persons.  Laura’s sense of humor, her love of life and caring nature touched everyone she met.  I consider myself blessed to have been able to call her a friend for 30 years.  I deeply miss her friendship, smile and sense of adventure.

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President’s Message – Summer 2016

Summer is here and I hope you take time every day to celebrate something. Celebrate not only the many weddings, birthdays you’re invited to, but the everyday things too. Whether it’s the sunrise or sunset, the beautiful flowers in full bloom, the sound of kids playing outside or the many wonderful smells in the air. Be sure to take a few minutes each day to just relax and enjoy the beauty around you. I think you’ll be surprised at how renewed it’ll make you feel.

We are happy to announce that Lisa Boron is our new Network Coordinator. Lisa is a great addition to our organization and looks forward to meeting everyone, so please feel free to introduce yourself when you see her at any of our Network events.

The Special Events committee is once again hard at work organizing the 7th Annual Taste of the Network event which will be held on Tuesday, July 26th at the Amherst Senior Center. At this popular event you’ll be able to mix and mingle with other Network members while tasting delicious foods from member agencies that are sponsoring the event. It’s a great way to make business connections in a short time, while indulging in some delicious foods.

Many thanks go out to the following member agencies for sponsoring the April, May and June Network with the Network events; Brookdale, The Dale Association, M&T Bank Reverse Mortgage, The Amberleigh, Buffalo Pharmacies, Respiratory Services of WNY, Buffalo Healthy Living Magazine, Peregrine’s Landing at Orchard Park, Home Assist Senior Care and Catholic Cemeteries.

A special thanks to People Inc, Olear Team at MJ Peterson and Simplified Solutions of WNY for donating $35 gift cards which were raffled off at these events in celebration of our 35th Anniversary.

Be sure to mark your calendars and save the date for our 36th Annual Meeting & Conference scheduled for Wednesday, November 2, 2016 at the Grapevine Banquet Facility. I hope you have a safe, happy and relaxing summer.