Chicago, IL …More THAN 10,000 pancakes were served up at St. John Fisher elementary school on Chicago’s Southside, 19th Ward, to raise money for replacement bullet-proof vests for Chicago police offers. Replacement vests start at $500 and are an out-of-pocket cost for officers.
Administrator Brad Fierce recently received a surprise, and very personalized, thank you from RESIDENT COUNCIL members for his dedication to patients and their families. The thank you display even included a picture of a motorcycle, because everyone knows how much Brad likes to ride!
Matt O'Shea, Ward 19 alderman, and his assistant Tristan Karnezis Angus, toured Belhaven Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, 11401 S. Oakley, on Friday, March 10, 2017 to visit staff and patients affected by Chicago's gun violence and also to accept the facility's donation of $1,000 for the "Get Behind the Vest" program which helps offset costs of bullet-proof vests for city police officers.
"We appreciate this donation - it will purchase two vests at $500 each," Karnezis Angus explained.
Although the vests often cost more depending on the upgrades police officers select, she said, it is still a big help for them financially.
"Police officers are issued a bullet-proof vest initially as part of their gear," she explained, "but it is their responsibility to replace it when they're shot or because of its age. The vests typically last about five years under normal conditions."
Alderman O'Shea's personal interest in "Get Behind the Vest" reflects his constituency since many of Chicago's first responders - police, paramedics, and fire fighters -- reside within Ward 19. He has hosted an annual pancake breakfast for the past three years at St. John Fisher Elementary School. On February 26th, this past year, about 2,000 persons attended. The event raised $22,000 and donations are still coming in.
"It's amazing how many people in the Ward have gotten involved in this program, especially our school children," O'Shea explained. "They have really embraced it very creatively by selling lifesavers during their lunch hour for our "life savers" or having special "dress down" days, or wearing blue in support. I'm very gratified to see all ages involved in this effort."
According to Jackie Burnett, Belhaven's activity director, more than 40 Belhaven employees have had close relatives either injured or killed by Chicago's gun violence. Burnett's own brother was shot twenty years ago and has been a paraplegic ever since when he was caught in crossfire as an innocent bystander. Burnett says her brother lives with their 74 year-old mother who cares for him full time.
Belhaven administrator, Brad Fierce, introduced O'Shea to Belhaven resident, John Murry, who is now wheelchair-bound and unable to communicate because of gunshot wounds to his spine. He has resided at Belhaven since 2007.
"Obviously, with the prevalence of gunfire throughout Chicago as witnessed by our staff and residents, we are glad to do what we can to help contribute to the safety of our first responders," said Brad Fierce, Belhaven administrator. "We look forward to working closely with Matt, not only on the Get Behind the Vest program, but other projects he supports throughout the Ward that help our neighborhood thrive."
Darien, IL resident, Brad Fierce, an administrator at Belhaven Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, 11401 S. Oakley, recently received a "heroic efforts" award from Belhaven's healthcare consultancy company in Hillside, IL for helping evacuate 22 stranded patients from LaSalle County Nursing Home in Ottawa after their building sustained severe damage on February 28th by an EF-3 tornado.
The award presentation came as a complete surprise to Fierce at a March 7th meeting of healthcare administrators and other staff who work in collaboration with Infinity Healthcare Management, a consultancy company based in Hillside. The award was jointly presented by Michael Blisko, owner, and Carrie Dipaolo, Chief Operating Officer.
"Brad is an outstanding example of a person who is committed to the well-being of others, no matter what the situation," Blisko said. "His leadership and courage to make a significant difference without fear for his own welfare were incredible." DiPaolo concurred saying, "His efforts that night were positively selfless considering how dangerous the conditions were and how scary it was working in an area that was hard hit by a tornado. We just want to recognize and reward the work he did helping so many and transporting them to safety."
Fierce, who up until December 2016 had worked in Streator, IL at the Parker Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, about 20 miles away from Ottawa, is very familiar with the County Home having helped evacuate patients from there before when the Illinois River flooded. Fierce said he was wrapping up a routine work day at Belhaven when he first heard the news about the tornado touching down in LaSalle County. He immediately called his friends at the County Home only to hear sirens and building alarms blaring in the background when they answered the phone.
"The minute I heard that, I knew they were in big trouble," said Fierce. "I jumped into my car and drove the 100 miles to the County Home through the worst weather I have ever encountered." Indeed, he was driving through the storm front as it departed LaSalle County and headed eastward. He described the sky as going from brown to black with blinding rain, constant lightning, and an onslaught of hail. At times the wind was so strong, he said, it felt like his car was being blown backwards. Other vehicles on the road around him sought refuge under viaducts.
While driving, he coordinated efforts with Parker staff so they could meet him at the County Home with the Parker bus and their own cars to transport all necessary supplies, medications, personal belongings, and medical equipment. Upon arrival, he immediately began triaging patients alongside the County Home nursing staff, selecting patients who would be appropriate for Parker, all of whom were elderly, and many had dementia.
"It was an orderly transfer and I'm just thankful I had the courage to go," Fierce said modestly. "It took a team to pull this off - it was hardly all up to me. I was just glad to help."
Pink balloons, prayers and poetry marked this special breast cancer awareness event for the residents and patients at Belhaven Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in the Beverly neighborhood of Chicago. They gathered outside under clear blue skies for a thoughtful afternoon of remembrance.
Residents released their balloons at the conclusion of the program showing solidarity with those who have faced this challenging disease. Belhaven administrator, Solomon Mizrahi, acknowledged activity director, Jacky Burnette, her staff and other employees for their assistance organizing this meaningful event along with a sale of T-shirts and other items to help raise funds for Breast Cancer Awareness.