Rochester – On March 7, CSEA represented employees from several worksites gathered up more than 200 pounds of provisions and dropped them off to coworkers employed with the Foster Care Homefinding Intake Unit of the Department of Human and Health Services in Monroe County.

One by one, workers delivered several heavy boxes of food, children’s clothing, health and beauty aids and toys to assist children when they need it most. Organizers of the collection effort say the demand for a little extra care for our most vulnerable children is huge and it’s something everyone should get behind.

CSEA Monroe County Local Women’s Committee Chair Angela Muscianese, a Clerk III with the Monroe County WIC Program, said she and her fellow coworkers continuously see community members falling through the cracks when they interview struggling families and children.

Mar. 7 — CSEA member from Monroe County Angela Muscianese drops off donations to benefit Foster Care children. Photo: Ove Overmyer, CSEA ©2019

Muscianese said, “Your heart just breaks when you see children uprooted from everything they know and have to go through the transition of foster care. We felt compelled to do more and make things a bit easier for them.”

The WIC Program is a supplemental food and nutrition education program that serves pregnant, breastfeeding, postpartum women, infants, and children up to the age of five. To be eligible for the program, applicants must be a resident of New York State and have a household income of less than 185% of the poverty level.

Debbie Gerlach, Supervisor of the Foster Care Unit, says the donations are a welcome sight. “We are very grateful to have such caring employees who go above and beyond every day. We will make sure these donations will be put to good use.”

The Foster Care Intake Unit serves as the gatekeeper for requests for foster care arrangements from the MCDHS Child and Family Services teams and from the Monroe County community and offers immediacy of response to families in crisis in a professional, empathic, respectful, and culturally sensitive manner. They also provide the services necessary to secure an appropriate placement for youth referred by the Monroe County Probation Department for placement in group homes, other institutional settings and specialized foster care programs.

CSEA members, along with the Federation of Social Workers who staff the Foster Care Intake Unit, have set up a series of collection drives where employees can bring in items they want to donate. Donation organizers expect to drop off needed items almost every other month to the Foster Care Intake Unit.

“By supporting these foster care children, you’ll be joining a community of men and women taking action to help our state’s most vulnerable kids,” said Muscianese. “This is what public service is all about.”

Featured photo: From left to right: Angela Muscianese, Trish Protz, Debbie Gerlach, Kathy Neidert and Kathy Begemann.

-Ove Overmyer

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Ove Overmyer

Ove Overmyer is an award winning photojournalist and writer who has promoted the virtue of working people and the value of public service throughout his career. His work has been published by many well-respected international media outlets, including PBS Moyers & Co., Steward Update UCS Worker Institute Cornell ILR, CBS News, The Weather Channel, SCI-FY Channel, Associated Press and LOGO-TV. Before joining the CSEA Communications Department staff in 2015, Overmyer was a CSEA member employed by the City of Rochester and an officer of the union for more than 18 years. He covers a 14 county area of Western New York and lives in Rochester, NY.

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