The Spirit of Sacred Heart Academy
Today, the spirit of Sacred Heart Academy lives in our students, alumnae, benefactors, and friends as they champion the Christian values modeled by St. Francis of Assisi. While we see this spirit embodied in so many, we can only highlight a few, so let us introduce you to this year's recipients of SHA’s distinguished awards.
Christus Super Omnia Award (November 2012)
This award is given to a distinguished alumna who, through her achievements and service, embodies the spirit of SHA.
Virginia (Ginny) Schumacher Wendel ‘51
Following graduation from Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart in 1951, Ginny went to work at Strong Steel Foundry and it was there, under the guidance of her employer, she was taught accounting which was a skill that proved to be invaluable in her future. After a six-year employment with Strong, Ginny was hired at American Standard Company, where she was employed until she was married.
In September of 1964, Ginny wed John Wendel and following their marriage, she joined her husband in the running of their family business, Falls Welding Supply Company, where she assisted with the financial books and accounting for 25 years until the business was sold in 1989. John and Ginny lived in Grand Island, NY, and there had three children, John, Theresa and Christine.
Ginny credits the Sisters at Sacred Heart who taught her and put into practice the message of St. Francis; “It is in giving that we receive” and it is so visible in the many ways that she and her family have shared their time, talent and treasures with those in need. Through living this message, Ginny has been an outstanding philanthropic supporter of both the Western New York and Fort Myers, FL, regions.
Shortly after the passing of her husband in January 1998, the John Wendel Foundation was established at the University of Buffalo Medical School. This Foundation was created to assist UB Medical Students with extra-curricular activities that enrich their lives. John and Ginny saw the need for this assistance after their daughter; Theresa graduated from the UB Medical School Program. Theresa (Matt) now practices as a surgeon in the Syracuse area and Ginny’s son, John, is in sales in the state of North Carolina. Her youngest daughter, Christine (Geoff), resides in North Carolina and is a practicing veterinarian.
In 1999, following the passing of her mother and father, Ginny and her family members, started the Gerard and Mary Schumacher Scholarship Fund at Sacred Heart Academy. This annual scholarship has afforded more than fifteen young ladies to receive a Sacred Heart education. This scholarship was named to honor her parents, who through their sacrifices, sent six daughters to the Academy to receive what they knew would prove to be an outstanding Franciscan education.
Ginny’s philosophy of reaching out and helping those less fortunate is highly visible in the many volunteer activities that she is a part of. When she is in the Buffalo area, she volunteers at Loaves and Fishes, T.R.Y (Teaching and Restoring Youth), and the University of Buffalo (North) Newman Center. Ginny spends her winters in Fort Myers, FL, and true to her giving spirit, she volunteers there as both a classroom aide and organizes a Christmas gift giving program for immigrant children at Immokolee Grade School and is a Eucharistic Minister at the Church of the Resurrection in Fort Myers. In Ginny’s “spare time”, she loves spending time with her family including her seven wonderful grandchildren: Sam (9), Jack (7), Colin (6), Quin (4), Addie (2), Ella (2) and Christian (6 mos).
Barbara Eckert Ochterski ‘61
Barbara Ochterski has experienced an almost linear education. Having graduated from Christ the King School, Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart, Rosary Hill College (BA English), Canisius College (MS Ed) and the University at Buffalo (PhD, Educational Administration, Leadership and Policy), it seems that the next logical stop-off down Main Street would be Lake Erie! Family life has been her priority. Barbara’s professional career began with school administration at Villa Maria Academy and Mount Mercy Academy. She was honored to serve as interim principal (2003-04) and Head of School (2004-2008) at Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart. She is happily married to Wallace and they are the proud parents of Joseph (Jean), Catherine Rydzynski (Gregg), James (Amy) and Thomas (Rebecca). Wally and Barbara have been delighted to share in the lives of their four precious grandchildren Jennie (19), Alice (16), Tony (18) and Thomas (16).
Barbara is past president of Buffalo Sunrise Rotary Club and is a member of several Rotary District 7090 committees. She has served on various boards including Hopevale Inc, Hopevale Union Free School District, and Mount Mercy Academy. She is a docent at the Botanical Gardens, and she and Wally share the hobby of beekeeping. They enjoy service-oriented travel and have recently worked on projects in India and Tanzania. Upon retirement, Barbara began a new endeavor. She is the owner of Graves Do Matter, a local custom care grave enhancement service, creating “little gardens everywhere”.
Barbara reflects: “If I had to choose the best days of my career, it would be the five years spent in school administration at SHA. As a young woman, I loved attending Sacred Heart and treasured my dear teachers, principal, and classmates. As Head of School, I had the rich opportunity to revisit that wonderful time in my life and to recognize that while so much in life changes, the values, the strong academics, dedication and spirit of Sacred Heart are today as visible and active as ever among the sisters, the faculty, parents, and students. I thank God for a most amazing and fun experience!”
Franciscan Charism Award (November 2012)
This award honors a member of the larger community who lives the Christian virtues as exemplified by St. Francis and St. Clare of Assisi.
Michael and Amy Bradley, Current Parents
The Bradley girls started at Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart in the fall of 2003 when Rachel entered SHA as a freshwoman. Following Rachel; Michelle , Leanna, and Alyse all learned to chant the Wigalow with equal enthusiasm and followed their own paths as a proud family of SHA women.
Along the way, Mike and Amy embraced their extended SHA family with that same enthusiasm by serving two terms as president couple of the Parents Guild, two terms as chairs of the Parent Advisory Committee, and chaired and contributed their efforts to many Sacred Heart endeavors including the Walk-A-Thon, Open House, Mother-Daughter Communion Breakfast, Taste of Buffalo beer tent, Day of Sharing, and Sandstone events.
Mike and Amy have also been active in their communities. Amy is the past chair of St. Benedicts’ school finance committee and Dare to Dream fundraiser. She was also a member of the parish finance committee. She currently is a member of the finance committee for Gerard Place. In addition, she has been active over the years in her daughters' Girl Scout troops. Mike has served on the school athletic committees at St. Benedicts and at SS. Peter & Paul where he was a softball and basketball coach and coached the 2008 SSPP softball team to its first diocesan championship. He was a coach at Connie Mack Little League and Amherst Girls Softball and ran the Holy Hoopsters Youth Basketball League for a number of years. Professionally, Mike is a member of the Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart Board of Directors and serves on the Canisius College Council of Accountancy.
Mike is Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for NOCO Incorporated, a locally-owned energy products and retail distributor headquartered in Tonawanda, NY. Prior to joining NOCO in 2006, he spent seventeen years with Freezer Queen Foods and earned his CPA designation while working in public accounting at KPMG Peat Marwick. Mike is a proud graduate of Canisius College and Canisius High School. Amy works in public accounting at Kopin & Company and worked at Deloitte & Touche for a number of years where she earned her CPA license after graduating from Clarkson University.
The Bradleys reside in Amherst with their four daughters – Rachel (’07), Michelle (’09) and Leanna (’10) and Alyse who will graduate in 2013.
Living the Spirit Award (November 2012)
This award is bestowed on an individual or organization that reaches out to serve the less fortunate members of the community.
Museum of disABILITY History
The Museum of disABILITY History is dedicated to advancing the understanding, acceptance, and independence of people with disabilities. The Museum's exhibits, collections, archives, and educational programs create awareness and a platform for dialogue and discovery.
Founded in 1998, the Museum is the only “brick and mortar” facility of its kind. It is located at 3826 Main Street in Buffalo, NY. In addition to its permanent exhibit collection which highlights a variety of topics in Disability History, the Museum offers a large selection of traveling exhibits and educational outreach programs for students in grades K-12.
The Museum of disABILITY History is a project of People Inc. and is chartered by the New York State Department of Education Board of Regents. People Inc. exists so that individuals with disabling conditions or other special needs have the supports they need to participate and succeed in an accepting society.
Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart is the Museum’s next-door-neighbor, as well as a proud partner. In May of 2012, SHA and the Museum of disABILITY History, along with support from The Blue Rose Foundation, the Daigler Family Scholarship Fund, the Foundation of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, and Theatre for Change, joined together to present a stage adaptation of “The Blue Rose”, the highly acclaimed book by international humanitarian, Gerda Weissmann Klein. The performance served to heighten local schoolchildren and community members’ awareness of developmental disabilities and was a great success!