The Esther Werner & Helene Barter Scholarship, awarded annually by The Auxiliary of Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, was awarded to Claire Villanova, a forensic interview specialist at the Child Advocacy Center of Niagara (CAC).
Villanova holds a bachelor's degree in public health and human services from the University at Buffalo and is currently pursuing a master's degree in social work, which she expects to complete in 2025. In addition to her work at the CAC, which responds to reports of physical and sexual child abuse, Villanova also coordinates the center's child fatality review team.
The scholarship, given in memory of Esther Werner, Memorial's first social worker, and her sister, Helene Barter, a long-time medical center volunteer, has been awarded since 1989. This year's recipient was selected by the scholarship committee, chaired by auxilian Judy Shahin.
"We are thrilled to award this scholarship to Claire Villanova, who has demonstrated a strong commitment to improving the lives of children who have experienced abuse," Shahin said. "The Esther Werner & Helene Barter Scholarship is a testament to the important work of social workers and volunteers at Memorial."
The Auxiliary of NFMMC is a nonprofit organization that supports the medical center through fundraising, volunteerism and advocacy. Since its founding in 1905, the Auxiliary has donated millions of dollars to support patient care, education, and community health initiatives.