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September 18, 2018

Fulton Mill Apartments Welcomes Red Cross’ I’m OK Program


FULTON, NY – Living alone can sometimes be worrisome.

There is always the concern that if something happens, how will anyone know, who will be there to help?

For the residents of Fulton Mills Apartments, they can rest easier knowing that the Red Cross’ I’m OK Program is addressing those concerns.

Members of the planning committee for the Red Cross’ I’m OK program at Fulton Mills Apartments display I’m OK door hangers. Seated from left are: Helen Hoefer, director of Emergency Services at Catholic Charities; Jezanna Osier, Red Cross volunteer coordinator; Karen Ferguson, branch director - Oswego County American Red Cross of Central New York; and Susan Pope, Red Cross chapter services associate. Standing from left are: Mary-Margaret Pezzella-Pekow, executive director, Catholic Charities of Oswego County; Marica Prignon, site manger at Fulton Mill Apartments; and Ann Casey, resident services coordinator for Fulton Mill Apartments.

Members of the planning committee for the Red Cross’ I’m OK program at Fulton Mills Apartments display I’m OK door hangers. Seated from left are: Helen Hoefer, director of Emergency Services at Catholic Charities; Jezanna Osier, Red Cross volunteer coordinator; Karen Ferguson, branch director - Oswego County American Red Cross of Central New York; and Susan Pope, Red Cross chapter services associate. Standing from left are: Mary-Margaret Pezzella-Pekow, executive director, Catholic Charities of Oswego County; Marica Prignon, site manger at Fulton Mill Apartments; and Ann Casey, resident services coordinator for Fulton Mill Apartments.

Thanks to a partnership between Catholic Charities of Oswego County’s Emergency Services program, the American Red Cross of Central New York, and the administration at Fulton Mill Apartments, the I’m OK Program, a neighbor-helping neighbor program is now in place at the Fulton Mills Apartments.

The implementation of the program comes after months of planning, preparation and cooperation.

“When Ann (Casey, resident services coordinator for Fulton Mill Apartments) called me and said she had heard of a Red Cross program called I’m OK and was interested in having the program at Fulton Mill Apartments I was more than happy to investigate and then help facilitate getting it here,” said Karen Ferguson, branch director – Oswego County American Red Cross of Central New York.

To find funding for the program Ferguson and Casey reached out to Helen Hoefer, director of emergency services at Catholic Charities of Oswego County.

“We have a great relationship with Ann and have hosted a number of events for the residents at Fulton Mills Apartments. Through our partnership with Fidelis Health Care we were able to procure the necessary funding for the I’m OK program. Fulton Mills Apartments is an excellent facility, we appreciate their contribution to our community and the willingness of Fidelis Health Care to help support the I’m OK program,” said Hoefer.

“It was a perfect match,” added Ferguson. “Catholic Charities has the funding for senior programs and we have the programs and the volunteers to make it happen!”

With the funding in place, it was time to bring the I’m OK program to Fulton Mill Apartments.

Ferguson explained that the program operates by using volunteers who look out for the well-being of their fellow residents.

“Each resident participating will be provided an I’m OK door hangar. Each day at the appointed time they will hang it outside their apartment to indicate that they are OK. Our volunteers, who are also residents, will slide the door hanger back under the door. The program assures that those residents who sign up to participate are monitored and they should feel an extra level of comfort,” she said. “They know that if for some reason they cannot get the hanger out there, it won’t be long before someone is there to find out why and that, if needed, help and assistance will be coming soon.”

Casey sees the I’m OK program as a welcome addition that will benefit the residents.

“I am very excited about having the I’m OK Program in our building. Many of our residents have lived here for a long time and worry about what could happen if they become ill and nobody finds them. We are hoping that this program will help make our residents, most of whom live alone, feel safe and secure. They will now have someone checking on them daily so that if they fall or become ill during the night they will get the medical attention that they need in a timely manner,” she said.

In addition to the benefits it provides the residents, Casey said that the staff at Fulton Mill Apartments is also happy to have the I’m OK program.

“It’s comforting to know that residents will be checking on residents seven days a week, not just when the office is open,” she added.

Residents who volunteer to distribute the I’m OK door hangers and check on their fellow residents will receive thorough training from both the staff at Fulton Mill Apartments and the American Red Cross.

“All Red Cross volunteers are given basic training in the mission of the American Red Cross and what we do. For I’m OK volunteers, each individual site will have specific procedures for them to follow. Each site will determine their own ‘what if’ procedures and then train their volunteers to follow them. Over all, as Red Cross volunteers they will be invited and encouraged to attend Red Cross events and become as involved as they can in the mission of the Red Cross. Being an I’m OK volunteer gives them an opportunity to volunteer their time without leaving their building. ‘Many seniors want to volunteer and have much to offer. However, for one reason or another they are unable to get out. The I’m OK program encourages the residents to worth together to assure the comfort and safety of each other,” said Ferguson.

The I’m OK program at Fulton Mill Apartments has 14 residents who have been trained as Red Cross volunteer floor monitors and are eager to begin their duties and help their fellow residents.

“We are fortunate to have the I’m OK program in place. It truly benefits our residents and us feel even better about what we do here and our mission to be able to allow residents, both seniors and disabled, to live independently as long as possible,” added Casey.

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