Niagara Gazette — Even though she was born with cerebral palsy, Candace Butcher always had only one career goal: to work with the disabled.
Despite the diagnosis, Butcher, 61, of Wheatfield, has spent the past 12 years of her life working assisting people who are disabled and as a tribute to her work, she will be receiving a special award today at a luncheon sponsored by the Health Association of Niagara County.
Butcher will receive the Karen Albond Courage in Caring Award, presented annually to an individual who perseveres in service to others despite a disability. Despite her disability, and a lifelong battle with depression, she has persevered, and graduated from Buffalo State College with a degree in Social Work in 1978.
Although she’s had a variety of jobs working in some form of care-taking for the disabled, the job she’s currently at, for the Niagara Cerebral Palsy Association, as a respite caregiver, is her favorite.
“It’s a very fun job. I get to meet with and work with all kinds of people,” she said. She provides companionship to clients, so their family members can take a few hours respite from caregiving. But she does more than just sit.
“She’s always doing a little bit extra,” said her boss at NCPA, Russell Polvino, who nominated her for the award.
That might mean making up a game with a client or talking with them about life issues. Sometimes, making headway in a relationship simply means her client is finally making eye contact. Each relationship has its own rewards, she said.
Although her CP can cause fatigue, making her want to spend some days in bed, she is happy to have a job that forces her to get up and participate in the world. “Life hasn’t been easy. But to stop would be to cheat myself. I would cheat myself of all these wonderful experiences.”