Jul 3, 2018

Local Photographer Overcomes Many Obstacles on Way to Recognizing She is an Artist

GOUVERNEUR – The walls of Maria Mantia’s home look like that of any photographer and are covered with beautiful framed images taken from her surroundings in St. Lawrence County.

Maria Mantia
The difference between Ms. Mantia though and most other photographers is she is legally blind.

While not completely blind, Ms. Mantia cannot drive and relies on her daughter Anita and brother Frank to bring her to the places where she’ll find the next image to frame and hang on her walls.

Photography is also a relatively new passion for Ms. Mantia, who until 2013 lived in Brooklyn.

Her move to St. Lawrence County came as a result of the borough’s gentrification — a legal, but controversial practice where landlords will pay low-income tenants to move elsewhere, allowing them to renovate properties and then charge significantly more for rent.

“When we were living there we paid $750 a month for a roach-infested, railroad apartment,” Ms. Mantia said. “Now he’s charging $2,500 a month.”

If given the opportunity to move back to the city though, Ms. Mantia said she would decline.

“I don’t ever want to go back, even for a visit,” she said. “Here the people are 90% good and 10% bad. There it’s the opposite.”

When she was younger and living in the city, she did help her brother, who also dabbles in photography, develop pictures in a dark room, but until moving to St. Lawrence County, she says she never really considered photography a serious hobby of her own.

“After I moved up here I saw how beautiful everything was and I wanted to take pictures,” she said, explaining either her daughter or brother will take her for a ride. When she sees something she likes, she then asks them to stop the car so she can get out and take pictures.

In addition to being legally blind, Ms. Mantia is also a cancer survivor, who deals with mental health issues and receives Care Coordination Services through United Helpers Mosaic.

In fact it was her care coordinator, Trina Bedford, who encouraged her to submit one of her pieces in the annual Mosaic Art Show. 

After much consideration, Ms. Mantia decided to enter a piece she titled, “A Better Place.” That picture shows the reflection of trees and clouds on a still river.

When asked where she took the photo, she said she cannot recall for sure. “I’ve visited so many places up here and they’re all so beautiful,” she said, adding though she is sure that the picture, like all of her pieces, was taken in St. Lawrence County.

On the day of the Mosaic Show, Ms. Mantia said she was shocked when it was announced her photo was selected as the best in the show.

That selection earned her piece a trip to the annual New York State Association of Community and Residential Agencies (NYSACRA) Art Show, which was held this past spring at the Sagamore Hotel & Resort in Lake George — a show which features hundreds of pieces from artists all across the state.

When her piece was selected for an honorable mention at that show, Ms. Mantia said she was “flabbergasted.”

Now, she said she considers herself a true artist, noting that the recent recognition her work has received has given her a much needed boost of confidence.

“It felt really good winning and being recognized,” she said. “A few years ago I wanted to enter one of my pictures in another art show, but was told maybe I should consider entering one of my brother’s sticks (her brother carves walking sticks) instead. That made me think, ‘what, am I not good enough?’ Now I know I am.”

Ms. Bedford said that’s exactly what Mosaic staff was striving for when they decided to host their first art show several years ago.

“One of the reasons we do the art show is to help boost people’s confidence,” she said. “It’s clearly working.”

Jun 25, 2018

Trio Honored With Helen S. Randles Scholarships

OGDENSBURG – Three high school seniors from a field of more than 25 applicants were honored with Helen S. Randles Scholarships.

The scholarships are presented by the Society of the United Helpers using funds from an endowment created by the late Ms. Randles. 

For the first time, each of the scholarship winners came from the same school — Massena Central School.

Emily Vierno will be attending Nazareth College in Rochester. She is the daughter of Kim and Joseph Vierno. Ms. Vierno is planning to become a physical therapist.

Matthew Derouchie will be attending St. Lawrence University in Canton. He is the son of Patty and Marc Derouchie. Mr. Derouchie is planning to become a physician assistant.

Olivia Todd will be also attending Nazareth College. She is the daughter of Cathy and Bob Todd. Ms. Todd is planning to become a music therapist.

Scholarship Committee Chair Ed Gordon said the decision this year was a difficult one.

“We had 25 very qualified applicants,” he said. “You guys should be proud of yourselves. Your folks certainly are and we are too.”

Also speaking at the presentation was scholarship committee member Cheryl Ladouceur.

“Your road is just starting,” she said. “Make sure you take the time to look at what is in front of you and always be your own best cheerleader.”

Dr. Gordon also spoke briefly about Mrs. Randles.

“Education was very important to her,” he said, adding she served as a volunteer with United Helpers for 46 years.

The scholarships are awarded each year to students from St. Lawrence County who are furthering their education and planning to enter the health care field.

Jun 19, 2018

Welcome New Hires

Please welcome the following new employees to the United Helpers family.

Adriania Fanelli - LPN
Amy Jones - LPN
Amy Nicorvo - LPN
Keylee Halpin - RN
Rebecca Compo - RN
Chayton Massic - Food Service Attendant
Destiny Rouselle - CNA
Kristen LeFleur - Task Aide
Heather Spears - Task Aide

RiverLedge Residence
Brittany Gage - Home Health Aide
Shannon Wilson - Home Health Aide

Ann Bristol - Task Aide
Noel Iannacone - Task Aide
Carolyn Winters - Task Aide
Rebecca Gonyea - CNA
Jasmine Duvall - Food Service Attendant
Kassie Hutton - Food Service Attendant
Melissa Price - Food Service Attendnat
Matthew Butler - Food Service Attendant
Joel Cosores - RN
Emily Johnson - RN
Paula Whitney - LPN

Maplewood Assisted Living
Dae Sha Brossoit - Home Health Aide

United Helpers Management Company
Kenneth Morrow - Maintenance II (Housing)
Bruce Lebeau - Maintenance II (Housing)

A.C.T. Team
David Fortin - Vocational Specialist

Arryn Baker - Office Tech

Joshua Barkley - Laborer
John Barrett - Laborer

Pleasant Valley IRA
Raven Anderson - DSP

Bernard Avenue IRA
Mark Lepone - DSP

High Street IRA
Mariah Simons - DSP

Spruce Street IRA
Patricia Brothers - DSP

Rensselaer Falls IRA
Tiffany Allen - DSP

Lisbon IRA
Kasondra Baker - DSP

Flackville Road IRA
Scott McKAy - DSP
Melissa MacKay - DSP

Jun 18, 2018

Society of the United Helpers Honors 3 With Annual Spies Awards

OGDENSBURG – For only the third time in the history of the awards, a winner of United Helpers’ most prestigious employee honor, the Margaret R. Spies Award has received the honor for a second time. 

Each year the Spies Awards is presented to three employees — one from RiverLedge, one from Maplewood, and one from Mosaic — who embody the most desirable qualities in direct care staff: dedication to the people they care for and a willingness to go above and beyond expectations.
This year’s awards went to Minnie Flanagan, who works as an activities aide, CNA, and home health aide at Maplewood Health Care & Rehabilitation Center; Allison Richard, a medication-certified direct support professional and evening supervisor from Mosaic; and Alisha Baker, a certified nursing assistant at RiverLedge Health Care & Rehabilitation Center.

“We’re here today to celebrate the best of the best,” said United Helpers CEO Stephen E. Knight as he introduced Ann Spies, who created the award in memory of her mother, a former resident of RiverLedge Health Care & Rehabilitation Center and longtime teacher in the Hammond Central School District.

“My mother was the best of the best. She was treated so well by people like you who took such great care of her,” Ms. Spies said addressing the recipients. “I could never express enough gratitude for what all of you, not just the three being honored here today, do each and every day with such great heart and spirit.”

Maplewood Vice President of Operations Kimberly Blair praised Ms. Flanagan, who joined her late sister, Loretta, as one of a select few employees to receive the award for a second time.

“Minnie has been a devoted employee of United Helpers 30 years. She always places others’ needs before her own, and selflessness is one of her greatest attributes,” Ms. Blair said, reading from a nomination submitted by Maplewood Activities Director Dawn Kimble. “She is a full-time employee in the activities department, but she will often start her day at 1:30 a.m., providing direct care assistance where it’s needed.”

Ms. Blair continued, “There are times when she has worked in all three departments in one day. She may come in at 1:30 a.m. and work until 6 a.m. in the SNF (skilled nursing facility) and then assist from 6 to 7 a.m. as a home health aide in the ALP (assisted living program) before beginning her shift as an activities aide.”

Making this year’s honor even more impressive are the trials that Ms. Flanagan has endured this year including the deaths of both her husband and sister.

“Despite all of this, she was always here with a smile on her face and her running shoes on to work for the residents,” wrote Activities Leader Patience Boswell in another nomination. “Her heart is the biggest I have ever seen in the 13 years I have worked here.”

Mosaic Vice President of Operations Michele M. Montroy introduced Allison Richard, who has worked at the Morristown, Rensselaer Falls and Lisbon IRAs.

Reading from a nomination submitted by Rensselaer Falls IRA LPN Sheri Sharpe, Ms. Montroy said, “She shows exceptional skills in the medication room in her role as a MDSP. She always makes sure our residents’ needs were taken care of. These skills and her commitment to the residents led her to apply for an evening supervisory position at the Lisbon IRA, which she deservedly received.”

She continued, “Being successful means being kind, genuine, good hearted and open minded. These are all qualities which Allison has shown. She has always been dependable and comes to work with a smile on her face. She is loved by her residents and co-workers.”

RiverLedge Vice President of Operations Timothy J. Parsons commended Alisha Baker, noting that her impact on the facility and its residents has come in only in a short amount of time.

“After only a few months, she was selected to be one of our CNA mentors as part of a program to welcome new staff,” Mr. Parsons said. “Our mentors are crucial to the success of our new CNAs, and only our top CNAs are selected.”

Mr. Parsons also noted that in addition to her regular nursing duties, Ms. Baker also serves on the facility’s recruitment and retention committee and is actively involved with the planning of upcoming employee recognition events.

“Her impact on the workforce is huge, but even more important is her impact on the residents she cares for,” he said, before reading several comments that came straight from the people she serves.

One resident, who called Ms. Baker one of their favorites, said, “She is so kind and gentle and is incredibly deserving of this award. She is missed even when she is off only for a day.”

Recipients of the Margaret R. Spies Awards are nominated for the honor by their administrative team and their peers. A plaque that lists the names of all the Spies Awards recipients hangs at RiverLedge.

Jun 4, 2018

Lowes Donation Brings Raised Garden Beds to Eight United Helpers Facilities

OGDENSBURG - Thanks to a donation of lumber and materials worth more than $1,200, the residents at seven United Helpers facilities will be able to enjoy gardening this spring and summer. 

Ogdensburg Lowes Assistant Manager Bob Ingersoll, Ogdensburg Store Manager Jordan Jock and Live Nursery Specialist Brian Bennett, who also operates an organic farm in the Heuvelton area, recently spent time at the McIntyre IRA helping the home’s residents plant tomatoes, peppers and a variety of herbs and spices in one of the newly built raised garden beds.

The raised garden beds were built by Mosaic Maintenance staff and placed at Pleasant Valley IRA in Norwood, Cherry Street IRA in Potsdam, Irish Settlement Road IRA in Heuvelton, Lisbon IRA, as well as McIntyre Road IRA, Centennial Manor IRA and Gateway Apartments in Ogdensburg. An eighth box was also placed at the United Helpers Management Company in Ogdensburg. 

Jun 1, 2018

Waddington Man Pleased by Service Received at Both RiverLedge and Maplewood

Allen McIntosh

OGDENSBURG – While rehabilitation is often associated with surgery on one’s legs, arms or hips, it can also be used to help make someone stronger and able to return home following any number of medical procedures. 
 Allen McIntosh, of Waddington, recently had an appendectomy after falling ill at home.
Following his discharge from the hospital, Mr. McIntosh spent roughly two weeks at United Helpers’ RiverLedge Health Care & Rehabilitation Center in Ogdensburg.
“I knew something was wrong so I went to the hospital,” he said. “My doctor told me he does five of those surgeries (appendectomies) every day, and mine was one of the worst he’s ever seen.”
While an appendectomy will take anyone off their feet for a few days, at the age of 92, the recovery period is a bit longer. Mr. McIntosh said he was unable to get a bed at Maplewood Health Care & Rehabilitation Center, where he has previously spent 19 days following a stroke, but given the success he found there, he knew he wanted to receive his therapy at a United Helpers facility.
“I can now say I’ve been to both places and they were each great,” he said. “I enjoyed my experiences at both.”
In addition to receiving physical and occupational therapy at both locations, Mr. McIntosh has also worked with Respiratory Therapist Matthew King.
A short time prior to his appendectomy, he noticed he was having difficulty breathing and was placed on oxygen by his primary care provider.
Although he is unsure if he’ll be able to stop using oxygen, Mr. McIntosh said his time with Mr. King has made a difference.
“I’m what they call a shallow breather,” Mr. McIntosh said. “Mr. King has taught me a little bit about breathing better and I’ve noticed a difference. I might not ever discontinue oxygen, but I can tell that what they’ve been doing is working.”
For more information on therapy services at RiverLedge Health Care & Rehabilitation Center in Ogdensburg, contact (315) 393-0730. For information on therapy services at Maplewood, contact (315) 386-4541.  You may also like United Helpers on Facebook or visit www.unitedhelpers.org.

Respiratory Therapist Matthew King, Allen McIntosh and Physical Therapist Trent Worden

May 29, 2018

Welcome New Hires

Please welcome the following new employees to the United Helpers family.

Chyanne Brown - Task Aide
Ashley Cameron - Task Aide
Brooke Martin - Task Aide
Keith Mitchell - Task Aide
Heather Latulipe - RN

Julia Dobbs - Task Aide
Katherine House - Task Aide

Spruce St. IRA
Crystal Burton - DSP

Flackville Road IRA
Sara Lawton - DSP
Nicole Richards - DSP