Neighbors Helping Neighbors
By Jamie Jensen
Pullquote: “We are all better off for having Open Door in our backyard.”
Open Door Family Medical Centers are becoming the face of public health in Westchester County. With new centers in Mamaroneck and Sleepy Hollow, Open Door now reaches more than 55,000 patients annually, many of whom live on or below $24,000 per year.
In Rye, we have some families that turn to Open Door as their primary care providers and many who give generously of their time and resources to making sure that Open Door continues to meet the needs of our most vulnerable neighbors. Most locals recognize the Port Chester Center across from the Stop and Shop on Grace Church and have seen the new Health Center on Mamaroneck Avenue right off I-95. However, few know that there are six health centers, seven school-based health clinics, and two mobile dental plans across Westchester and Putnam counties.
As a member of the Open Door Foundation Board, I have been privy to the generosity of spirit in Rye. Beyond attending the annual Spring Power Up Lunch or their fall benefit, Rye residents are making a difference in how they give back.
Earlier this year, two Rye families provided start-up funds to support the Behavioral Health Integrated Services (BHIS) Programs in the Port Chester and Mamaroneck centers. Joe and Sandy Samberg, longtime residents and passionate advocates for health care, helped launch the fund in Port Chester. As more and more people worry about the stigma associated with mental illness, Sandy made it clear that part of the solution first means recognizing how common mental health issues are. “With the program, a behavioral health assessment is wrapped into a child’s regular checkup. Bilingual licensed social workers, who are an integral part of the clinical care team, assess patients for anxiety, depression, and other behavioral concerns and make referrals as needed. The goal is to nip any potential long-term problems in the bud and make sure these children are getting the services they need in order to live healthy and productive lives.”
Joyce and Paul Rheingold, another old-time Rye family, generously created The Ted W. N. Rheingold Fund for the Mamaroneck Open Door site in memory of their son. “We honor Ted by helping to fund this critical program,” they offered. “As longtime supporters of Open Door, we understand how important stable mental health is to long-term health. We are all better off for having Open Door in our backyard.”
This month, Community Synagogue of Rye and Rye Presbyterian Church have joined forces to bring the Baby Box project to their congregations. According to Kim O’Connor Stacks who is helping spearhead the event, “A pregnant young woman who does not have the network of support Rye moms are typically used to can feel overwhelmed during her pregnancy.”
The Baby Box project has become an integral part of the prenatal and pediatric care management teams at Open Door. The goal is to give every child and her mother a healthy start with a box filled with essentials that when emptied converts into the newborn’s first bassinet.
All month long, Community Synagogue and Rye Presbyterian Church and Nursery School will be collecting donations for the Baby Box Project. A full list of items needed can be found on the Buy Buy Baby registry or at Opendoormedical.org.
Lindsay Farrell, President and CEO of Open Door Family Medical Centers, is never at a loss for stories about the support Rye has given over the last 30 years. “In addition to the fund started by Joyce and Sandy, Soul Ryeders has supported our patient advocate program.” She continued, “And through the years, we have met wonderful youth who have volunteered at the Reach Out and Read Program and conducted book drives for our patients. I am not at all surprised to learn that Kim O’Connor and Dinah Howland, through Mission and Outreach at Rye Presbyterian, are bringing attention to our newest effort to better serve our patients through the Baby Box Project.”
While it is sometimes difficult to find meaningful volunteer opportunities for families, Rye members continue to seek out new connections. Open Door has formally partnered with Feeding Westchester (formerly Westchester Food Bank) to operate a Fresh Market on the last Saturday of every month – delivering fresh food and vegetables to Open Door patients at the Mamaroneck Health Center. Open Door would love to hear from those wishing to help. For more information, go to their website, opendoormedical.org.
Expectant moms Kety Rojas, Elodia Miranda, Vilma Vasquez, and Zoila Farez