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One Woman, Two Grandchildren: Making a Life Count

March 20, 2011

by Annie Delano

Ann with Connor reading a book (Annie Delano)

Many women are dedicated to their family, but what sets apart Ann D’Attilio, a Pine Hills resident is her commitment to improving the lives of everyone around her, including members of her church and the neighborhood in which she lives. Each week, she dedicates more than 45 hours to taking care of her grandchildren and she is happy to do so.

Grann, as she is called by grandson Connor, spends her days taking care of the children, and plans special activities with 2-year-old Connor. They frequently attend story hour at the Pine Hills library, and once a week, D’Attlilio takes Connor to Music Together, a group that exposes toddlers to music.

“I feel so blessed to have my mom help out with the kids,” said Mary Cady, D’Attilio’s daughter. “My son’s vocabulary has always been great and I feel I owe a lot of that to my mother as she was always talking to him about anything and everything and she loves to read stories to the kids.”

D’Attilio, plays a huge role in the life of Connor and 8-month-old Mackenzie from her neighborhood home. For granddaughter Mackenzie, who was born in July, D’Attilio is a vital life line. D’Attilio provides special care every three hours when she hooks up Mackenzie’s feeding tube for her daily nutrition. The infant has a condition known as Hypotonia which prevents her from taking a bottle or breast.

Mackenzie also receives in home occupational therapy five days a week, another activity with which D’Attilio is involved. She learns from doctors and her daughter what kinds of in home therapy exercise Mackenzie needs to improve her condition, and works with her during the time she watches her, continuing the exercises once the therapy session is over. “My daughter has some feeding/eating issues so having someone I trust watch her is a necessity. Because my daughter gets therapy, my mom’s able to spend the time working with her, while in a daycare setting they wouldn’t have the time to do so,” Mary said.

D’Attilio has lived in the Pine Hills since 1974, when she and her husband of 44 years, bought their first home on Manning Boulevard.  Today, she lives in a different home, just down the street from her original house on the boulevard where she is an active community member.

What drew D’Attilio to the Pine Hills neighborhood was its strong sense of community. While people have come and gone over the years D’Attilio has remained. After moving to the Pine Hills, D’Attilio joined the Manning Boulevard Neighborhood Association and is now treasurer. She has held different leadership positions, including, secretary. With the neighborhood association, she was involved with legal battles to help keep the Boulevard residential, when business owners tried to buy property. The Association won, and brought a sense of unity to the residents of Manning, which D’Attilio feels has helped the neighborhood remain tight knit.

Ann and Granddaughter Mackenzie (Annie Delano)

When D’Attilio’s children were young, she helped organize a neighborhood babysitting co-op, which allowed parents to share babysitting services with each other, creating affordable and trustworthy care within the convenience of their own neighborhood.  Currently she helps plan neighborhood holiday parties and in the spring, plants flowers on the street corners to improve the aesthetics of the neighborhood.

Outside of the neighborhood, but not far from home, D’Attilio is an active member of the Unitarian Universalist Society in Albany.  She retired as the director of religious education in 2007.  As the director, D’Attilio worked with Meredith Mercer, the chair of the religious education committee. D’Attilio and Mercer were on the churches’ social committee and were responsible for planning fun filled events once a month.

“I was so impressed with how organized Ann was and how devoted she was to her job and wanted the program to be successful,” said Mercer.

D’Attilio has had an extensive reach in the neighborhood. Children in religious education experienced her Sunday school influence and motorists and pedestrians have benefited from the flowers along Manning.  She is part of the fabric of the neighborhood.  Her daughter Mary said:  “My mom is super reliable and very thoughtful. She’ll always do whatever she can to try to help out.” -30-

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