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Friday, 14 February 2014 14:22

Parents Of The Year

Gala Evening Salutes Great Parenting in Several Categories

HALFMOON – If you could bottle Paula Fidalgo-Gretzinger’s spirit and enthusiasm for all things parenting, there would be little or no need for energy drinks.


The hostess/creator of the second annual Parent of the Year Gala last Friday, February 7 at Mohawk River Country Club in the town of Halfmoon is a multi-tasker with a mission: A single mother to three children, she founded the program “Parentology with Paula” in 2010 with the mission of helping busy parents who, like herself are raising children or teens while juggling the multitude of challenges that we call life. 


Paula wasn’t just sitting around when deciding to launch “Parentology.” At the time, she was an executive television producer who had moved from CT to help launch Capital News 9, as well as serving as Director of Education for The New School of Radio and Television. With that diverse media background, she harnessed her skill set to provide effective communication about information and resources to parents with diverse needs in the modern age. 


“From the day your child is born, you are a parent for life,” she notes. “But every child is unique, and therefore every parent has to develop unique tools for effective parenting, and these will naturally change over time.” The show and the information provided (visit parentologywithpaula.com where all the shows since 2010 are archived) draws from a variety of expect and everyday perspectives that in total add up to a tremendous resource for those seeking knowledge on a variety of relevant subjects. 


The Parent of the Year Gala was a natural outgrowth of these efforts. 


“I wanted to end the year with something powerful.” Paula said, and indeed, based on the turnout and the enthusiasm of winners, nominees and supporters, “something powerful” is an understatement. 


One illustrative example is the award categories themselves. There were 20 different categories, representing the different challenges (and eventual triumphs) that parents face. 


Some categories are incredibly creative: for instance, the “juggler” award goes to a parent with three or more children; the “sweetheart” award goes to parents that have been married for 20+ years and have more that one child from the same marriage; the “chef” parent makes home-cooked meals every day; most positive; most organized; even funniest- they are all celebrated here.


Friends and family submitted nominations for these awards. Some of these nominations are as moving as the winners’ stories themselves. 


For instance, consider Ms. Heather Straughter of Saratoga Springs, who was the deserving recipient of “Most Inspiring Parent.” Her nomination was written by Ms. Shannon Allitt of Middle Grove, who herself was a recipient of an “Entrepreneur Parent” award:


“Heather is a parent who has lost so much, yet still smiles and helps so many…. The heartbreak a mother must endure with losing a child is something no parent should ever go through. To crumble into a million pieces could be so easy…to lock yourself away in your sorrow and turn away from everything would be understandable…


“This is NOT what Heather did…” Ms. Allitt describes how Heather kept her son Ethan at the forefront while she, with her husband Brian, founded Jakes Help From Heaven Foundation in honor of the child she lost. 


Winning parents like Ms. Straugther and Ms. Allitt are representative of the nearly two-dozen parents that were honored on February 7. Others from Saratoga County include: 

- Allan Onderchain – (Best Single Dad)

- Nancy Acemoglu – (“Neighborhood Parent”: A person who acts as parent to a group of kids in a neighborhood)

- Erin Strambach – (“The Crafty Award”: The parent who is coming up with creative projects)

- Jennifer Lohr and Melissa Ward – Special Certificates of Honorable Mention. 


It was an experience of joy and celebration that will long be remembered for all who attended. Call it a special early Valentines Day present for those who give so much. 


For more information, visit parentologywithpaula.com.


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