Submitted by heitzend on Fri, 05/28/2021 - 16:16


MAYVILLE, N.Y.:-- Chautauqua County Executive PJ Wendel and the COVID-19 Response Team recently announced the sixteenth week of COVID-19 Hero nominations 117-126.  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.


“We have recognized individuals doing amazing work across Chautauqua County, and I am happy this week to include a few county employees who have been key to the logistics of the local response efforts,” said County Executive PJ Wendel. “I want to again personally thank our week sixteen nominees: Amber Siragusa, Michael Edwards, Margaret Paolini, Shane Wilson, Cynthia Reidy, Lisa Rodriguez, Karen Belcher, Debra Pacos, Natalie Whiteman, and Sharon Ruby. These individuals have risen to the challenge of helping others during a global pandemic, and are truly our COVID-19 Heroes.”


Amber Siragusa is a care coordinator and has helped many people get in the system for a COVID-19 vaccination. Along with many family members, she also helped people over 65 who didn't have a computer or the skills to keep going and checking the site, as well as countless teachers and school employees. Without Amber many would have had a crazy time to even have a chance at getting the vaccination, let alone most already receiving their second does.


Michael Edwards is the Chief of Dunkirk Fire Department and is a great leader, always putting his community and fellow firefighters before himself. First responders are always on the frontlines but have risked much more throughout the pandemic. Thank you Chief Edwards for leading the Dunkirk Fire Department to continue to provide safe, effective care during peoples’ time of need.


Margaret Paolini is an RN manager at The Resource Center and has worked every day since the pandemic began, making sure staff and individuals were informed and prepared during times of uncertainty. Meg has always led by example making sure all of the policies put in place are adhered to and when there have been so many changes to the guidelines Meg is quick to get the information to the staff and individuals in a way that it makes sense to them. Meg has been a phenomenal leader and a rock for so many even before the pandemic but especially through the last year.


Shane Wilson is a paramedic for multiple agencies including Gowanda Ambulance Service, WCA Services, and Chautauqua County EMS, as well as volunteers for Brocton Volunteer Fire Department. Shane has worked countless days and hours to make sure his community is well taken care of as well as his staff and patients. Shane also was deployed last March to Westchester County to aid in the State of Emergency for COVID-19 where he helped swab and test residents of New York City for COVID. Shane has been a true role model while fighting the COVID-19 virus and has helped maintain safety to not only his patients but the communities he serves.


Cynthia Reidy is the program coordinator of the PFC Dwyer Veterans program. Over the past year Cindy has worked tirelessly to serve a vulnerable subset of the veteran populations. When we were on PAUSE, she kept all regular participants in contact with zoom meetings and phone calls. Additionally, she has coordinated mass meal deliveries on numerous occasions, servicing 70-80 veteran homes at a time. She has coordinated for several veterans to get transportation from volunteers to the Buffalo & Erie VA hospitals. She's been able to re-start in-person peer events, but with strict adherence to COVID protocol to create a safe environment.


Lisa Rodriguez works at the Magnolia Frewsburg Rest Home and tirelessly works day in and day out to ensure all residents are taken care of and that staff are happy at work. She never complains about working late and will gladly come in on her days off with a smile on her face. She is all about the residents and making sure they are not only cared for, but are enjoying their time there. She is never too busy to help staff or residents and is always laughing.


Karen Belcher is a teacher at Westfield Central School and has been devoted and supportive to her students prior to and since the pandemic started. Whether they are in-person or remote, she is there for them. She maintains her high level of expectations for her students, while providing them with the consistent support so many need. Mrs. Belcher is a hero to both her students and her peers.


Debra Pacos is the Executive Director of Dunkirk-Fredonia Meals on Wheels, and works tirelessly on behalf of her clients and the elderly of the north county region. Right from the start of the COVID-19 crisis, she jumped into action to ensure the safety of her staff, volunteers and clients as she protected the meal delivery service for her clients. She spent countless hours shifting volunteers to cover for those who were not comfortable working through the pandemic and covering delivery routes herself when they were short. Deb is a selfless, passionate advocate for elders and has gone above and beyond her duties to protect her clientele, staff, volunteers and others in the process of serving their needs.


Natalie Whiteman is the Public Health Emergency Preparedness Coordinator for our County Department of Health and Human Services and has been a critical part of the COVID-19 response in Chautauqua County. From the start of the pandemic she has been coordinating planning efforts, acquisition and stock of PPE and testing supplies, and the logistics for all of our testing and vaccination clinics.


Sharon Ruby is a resource assistant and clinic manager for the County Department of Health and has worked in tandem with Natalie for all planning and logistics of the testing and vaccination clinics. This includes identifying and setting up locations, designing the flow of traffic, and lining up staff and volunteers for all aspects of the operations.


Natalie and Sharon have been working hard together making up plans and completing all the behind the scenes paperwork that made both the testing and vaccine clinics possible for our residents. They never stop working hard for the health and wellbeing of all individuals in our County.



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.



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