It is in Rita Andolina’s blood to be a helper, and she has spent the majority of her life navigating the social work field with a graceful ambition to improve her community and services to marginalized populations.
Over the course of her productive career, Andolina has been an active participant in and contributor to transitioning practice and systems of care for the developmentally disabled and mentally disabled, many of whom, she says, were traditionally “warehoused in institutions” with needs going unmet. She has both a personal and professional interest in the way the world works and how people treat each other and has provided training on diversity and bias reduction, underscoring the importance of “using your heart and having respect for other people’s beliefs.”
Recently retired from more than three decades with the Western New York Developmental Disabilities Services Office, Andolina still passionately contributes to both the UB and larger Buffalo communities. She has remained steadfast in her mindful service, despite a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis in 1997.
“I've always had a strong connection to the university,” Rita says, “and I feel that we, in Western New York, need to recognize this ‘gem.’ I’d like to see Buffalo continue to move forward and I've always believed that this university can help Buffalo do that.”
Andolina continually contributes wisdom and service to the University and the School of Social Work. She sits on the UB Alumni Association Board of Directors and co-chairs the Volunteer Relations Committee in addition to serving as a mentor in the Office of Career Services and an alumni ambassador for the Office of Admissions. In the SSW, she is alumni advisor to the School of Social Work and is ever-aware of the needs of social work students and alumni. When students wanted to complete internships at the Morlock Foundation in 2013 and the organization lacked the appropriate degree requirements for supervision of MSW interns, Andolina took it upon herself to volunteer her supervision to make the internships possible. She also currently volunteers with a group working to advance research in Multiple Sclerosis.
The number of lives Andolina has touched through the University and the SSW deservedly earned her the honor of a UB Alumni Association Volunteer Recognition Award in 2012.