MAYVILLE, N.Y.:-- Chautauqua County Executive PJ Wendel and the COVID-19 Response Team recently announced the seventeenth week of COVID-19 Hero nominations 127-134. Nominations are recognized in a video posted weekdays on the Chautauqua County Government Facebook page, and each nominee receives a personal note from the County Executive’s Office.
“Although we are nearing the end of our COVID-19 Heroes nominees, the stories continue to illustrate what makes Chautauqua County such a special place,” said County Executive PJ Wendel. “I want to again personally thank our week seventeen nominees: Rev. Darrell Duffy and Deacon Mike Lennon, Brent Reed, Jason Ziegler, Visiting Nurses of WNY, Corrections Officers at the Chautauqua County Jail, CARTS Bus Drivers, Liz Kennedy, and Chelsea Wendell. These individuals have risen to the challenge of helping others during a global pandemic, and are truly our COVID-19 Heroes.”
Rev. Darrell Duffy and Deacon Mike Lennon were nominated as a team. Just as maintaining our physical health during this time has been important, so too is the maintenance of our spiritual health. Since the very beginning of the pandemic in March of 2020, Fr. Duffy and Deacon Lennon of St. James Church have focused not on the obstacles created by the shutdown but on how they could change to best serve their flock. St. James didn't wait to see what would happen but stepped up and was the first Catholic Church in the area to livestream Mass. They also instituted twice weekly Zoom sessions for those who wished to pray the Rosary or Divine Mercy Chaplet together. Fr. Darrell also leads parishioners in Nightly Prayer every evening via Facebook live. Additionally, monthly mailings are sent out to the parish to maintain contact and offer suggestions for prayer. Ever since churches were permitted to reopen to the public, Fr. Darrell and Deacon Mike have also done everything they could to ensure a safe environment in the church building, going beyond the CDC and Diocesan guidelines. Throughout the past year Fr. Darrell and Deacon Mike have tirelessly demonstrated Christian love for their parishioners and have shown themselves to be shepherds who truly care for their flock.
Brent Reed is a dedicated employee at Heritage Park and has worked at the Park for over 27 years. He started out as an aide and in 2016 decided to become an LPN. Brent is such a carrying person and his residents and family members greatly appreciate him. He loves his residents and couldn’t imagine doing anything else. During the pandemic he has worked many tiring hours, but wouldn't want to be any other place.
Jason Ziegler is the second assistant chief at West Dunkirk Volunteer Fire Department. Jason goes above and beyond everyday doing things in the department. He is always a top responder and stops whatever he is doing to answer calls whether morning, noon or night. So many EMS calls were COVID-19 related and he always takes necessary precautions to help people in their time of need. He is a hero for volunteering to help his community even with the risk of COVID-19 to his safety.
The Visiting Nurses of Western New York have been extremely busy since the beginning of the pandemic. The nurses and therapists have been seeing patients with COVID-19 and others recovering from illnesses or surgeries in their home setting. They have devoted their lives to helping others and make a huge difference in our community.
The corrections officers at the Chautauqua County Jail have risked their health as they continued their already high stress job throughout the pandemic. This would sometimes even mean even having to work in a COVID-19 positive area. Countless COs volunteered double shifts as fellow officers had to quarantine or tested positive. Despite the difficulties in maintaining staffing our county corrections officers rose to the challenge as they always have, to ensure our jail was monitored and the public was safe.
The CARTS bus drivers have continued to work throughout the pandemic, many of whom are retired and at higher risk for COVID-19 complications. Without the drivers’ dedication and tireless efforts, the residents of Chautauqua County who rely on public transportation wouldn't have been able to get to doctor’s appointments or grocery stores, and essential workers would not have been able to get to jobs that provided essential services.
Liz Kennedy is a Social Worker (and so much more) at Lutheran. Throughout the pandemic, she has been fielding phone calls on a daily basis from concerned families that are missing their loved ones. She has been their eyes, ears and voice on the inside while they await in-person visitation. She does all of this while still making time to support our nursing staff by learning any new tasks she’s able to take on such as passing meal trays and documenting COVID vaccines on immunization records. Thank you Liz for stepping up and showing such compassion during these difficult times.
Chelsea Wendell is a Registered Nurse at UPMC Chautauqua and was nominated because she is a genuine, good-hearted person. She has worked throughout the pandemic which has been challenging for those in the healthcare field. Chelsea genuinely cares about her patients and her family and friends.
Nominations closed on March 31, 2021. Individuals will continue to be recognized in the coming weeks until all submissions have been named. To view COVID-19 Heroes videos, visit www.facebook.com/ChautauquaCountyGovernment.