When Jose Correa’s mother moved him and his siblings to Buffalo from Puerto Rico in 1977, he had no idea at the time what the services provided to them by Catholic Charities actually meant to his family, let alone that the agency was somewhere his life would later come full circle.
“It wasn't until I interviewed there for a social work position that I realized how much my family benefited from the relationship built between my mother and the social worker there,” reflects Correa. “During the interview, the social worker saw my address and stated that she knew a lady who lived there, but did not go into further detail. My mother informed me that Esther was her social worker on and off since 1977. It was Esther who helped her attain income and housing and assisted with the family transitioning to Buffalo. It was ironic that I was interviewing to replace the person who had such a positive impact on me and I had no knowledge of her until today.”
Correa, who recently celebrated his 10-year anniversary with Catholic Charities, currently serves as site facilitator with the agency’s Closing the Gap Initiative Program at Lorraine Elementary School #72 in South Buffalo coordinating services for students.
“Since I began at Lorraine Elementary,” says Correa, “we have partnered with Heritage Centers to provide mental health services, Cradle Beach project SOAR to provide mentoring services, and Catholic Charities Foster Grandparents Program to provide volunteers in some of our classrooms.” The school also now has partnerships with Boy Scouts, Boys and Girls Club, WNY United Against Drugs & Alcohol Abuse, and Say Yes to Education.
Passionately community-conscious, Correa proudly designates that quality to the UBSSW as well. “One thing that fascinates me is the school’s connections to the community,” Correa explains. “I have gone to countless trainings and presentations sponsored by many human service agencies, and nine out of 10 times the UBSSW has some kind of involvement in the development of the training material.”
In particular, he references two professors, Sue Green and Denise Krause, as having a “great impact” on his overall experience at UB. “The fact that they both had a strong relationship with the community in which we would all be working one day was extremely beneficial. Sue and Denise incorporated our field placements and their knowledge of the social work community into their teaching. The UBSSW really takes pride in adequately preparing students for a career in social work.”