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September 18, 2018

American Red Cross Recognizes Catholic Charities, Fidelis Care


FULTON, NY – The introduction of a new program aimed at the safety of those living in senior apartments has garnered special recognition for Catholic Charities of Oswego County and Fidelis Care.

The American Red Cross of Central New York recently honored Catholic Charities of Oswego County and Fidelis Health Care by presenting them with the Thomas F. Hanlon Award for Disaster Preparedness.

The American Red Cross of Central New York recently honored Catholic Charities and Fidelis Care for their role in bringing the I’m OK program to the Fulton Mill Apartments and St. Luke Apartments in Oswego. From left are: Ashley Hayes, a partner at the Hancock Estabrook Law Firm, who presented the award; Executive Director of Catholic Charities of Oswego County, Mary-Margaret Pezzella-Pekow; Helen Hoefer and Gail Cooper of Catholic Charities; and Tom Julian, director of marketing for Fidelis Care.

The American Red Cross of Central New York recently honored Catholic Charities and Fidelis Care for their role in bringing the I’m OK program to the Fulton Mill Apartments and St. Luke Apartments in Oswego. From left are: Ashley Hayes, a partner at the Hancock Estabrook Law Firm, who presented the award; Executive Director of Catholic Charities of Oswego County, Mary-Margaret Pezzella-Pekow; Helen Hoefer and Gail Cooper of Catholic Charities; and Tom Julian, director of marketing for Fidelis Care.

Named in honor of former Syracuse Fire Chief Thomas Hanlon, the award is presented to an individual, group or organization for their outstanding contributions in the area of disaster preparedness and public safety and their efforts to promote a safer community.

The two were recognized for their efforts to bring the Red Cross I’m OK program to Fulton Mill Apartments.

According to Helen Hoefer, director of Catholic Charities’ Emergency Services program, the idea began with a phone call from resident services coordinator for Fulton Mill Apartments, Ann Casey.

“We have worked together on a number of projects for the residents of the Mill Apartments so when Ann asked me about assistance in bringing the Red Cross I’m OK program to the Mill Apartments I was happy to help her,” said Hoefer.

To find funding for the I’m OK program Hoefer turned to Fidelis Care.  “Through our partnership with Fidelis Health Care we were able to procure the necessary funding and turn that idea into reality by implementing the I’m OK program at Fulton Mill Apartments,” said Hoefer.

A neighbor-to-neighbor program, I’m OK empowers resident volunteers to look out for the well-being of their fellow residents.

Each participating resident is provided an I’m OK door hanger, which, at the appointed time, they hang daily outside their apartment to indicate that they are “OK.”

During their rounds, volunteers slide the door hanger back under the door.  The I’m OK program ensures that residents are monitored and therefore feel an extra level of comfort by knowing that if for some reason they cannot display their hanger, it won’t be long before someone is there to find out why and that, if needed, help and assistance will be coming soon.

According to Casey, the I’m OK program has been well received by both the residents and the staff.

“We kicked off the I’m OK program in February and thanks to our wonderful head monitor, Betty Wells and our resident volunteers, it has been working beautifully. We hold regular meetings to discuss the program’s progress and any issues that our residents may have. The I’OK program has provided our residents, their families, and our staff with a greater sense of safety and security. The hard work that was put forth by Catholic Charities and the Red Cross, and the financial assistance from Fidelis Care has more than paid off in the benefits that our residents are receiving from the I’m OK program. We are very proud to have been the first senior building in the county to create this program and hope to see it grow and flourish throughout Oswego County in the coming months,” said Casey.

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