September 2001

Bonnie Glazer...
A Friend Indeed for Children in Need

by Joseph RADDER

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If there were more people like Bonnie Glazer in the world it would be a better place for all of us...especially the children. If she had her way, all children would, in her words, “get the best possible start in life.” In such a perfect world our children would then grow up to be healthier and happier responsible adults.

As executive director of Child and Adolescent Treatment Services (CATS), a non-profit agency that operates seven treatment centers throughout Erie County, Bonnie Glazer spends every day working toward that goal.

“I want to be a strong advocate of the health and well-being of the children in our community,” she says. “I am grateful to be able to be a spokesperson for the children who can’t speak for themselves.”

CATS was founded in 1937 as a Community Chest (now the United Way) “Red Feather” agency with just seven employees. The organization has grown every year and today employs 80 people.

“We do a lot in partnership with the schools,” Glazer said, “and we counsel lots of kids and their parents in our facilities. These are children who are emotionally troubled, have experienced traumas or are neglected and abused.”

Originally affiliated with the court system, CATS is now licensed by the New York State Department of Mental Health. It receives partial funding from the Erie County Department of Mental Health, the United Way, client fees and insurance re-imbursement, but also depends on donations from people who care about its mission. This past year, nearly 2500 children received services at CATS branch offices, in homes, schools and community-based settings. 92% of the agency’s clients indicated satisfaction with its services which include child and family counseling, partnerships with educators and other human service agencies, family support centers, a child advocacy center dealing with the trauma of child sexual abuse, home-based counseling services and a program to prepare adolescents and young adults who have been living in foster homes for living an independent life.

Bonnie Glazer is perfectly suited to run this wonderful complex of services. Her parents had grown up in a Cleveland orphanage. They married very young and her father became her mother’s legal guardian when he was age 21. They were married for 62 years when her father passed away in 1987.

“My father was my hero,” she says. “He began life with tremendous disadvantages but he overcame them all, educated himself and eventually became a very successful author and writer for magazines and newspapers. His favorite saying was ‘If life gives you lemons, make lemonade’.”

Bonnie grew up in the Cleveland suburb of University Heights where she graduated from high school. She earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology at the University of Rochester and later received her master’s degree at the SUNY School of Social Work in Buffalo. About 10 years ago, she took on an intensive course of study in her chosen field at Smith College.

She has been on the staff of Child and Family Services, was on the faculty of the School of Social Work at U.B. and was program manager of the Adult and Child Family Clinic at ECMC. She became executive director of Child and Adolescent Treatment Services in 1993.

When we asked why CATS has such a low profile, she said, “Our work with children and parents, of course, is very confidential. If a newspaper came out here and did a story on us, the first thing they’d want to do is take pictures, and we couldn’t allow that.”

Bonnie and her husband, Eric Glazer, are celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary this year. “We’re cyclists,” she said, “and we plan to spend our anniversary enjoying the bicycle path along the Canadian side of the Niagara River.” The Glazers have two children, Aaron age 22, who is completing his studies this year at Buff State, and Jillian, 18, who began her freshman year this fall at Boston University. Bonnie Glazer’s love of her family is obvious, and it’s clear she would love to be able to pass on the kind of happiness she has enjoyed to all of the families her agency serves.

Joseph Radder is a freelance writer.


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