The Workforce Behind the Mission

Tajuana Cerutti, Communications Manager

After having to move to a virtual celebration for the last two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual employee recognition event resumed in person this year. Employees from Catholic Charities of Onondaga County (CCOC) gathered for the first time among each other for a slightly smaller reception to enjoy good food, good company, and lots of dancing. Shades of Spring, the 2022 theme, was an invitation to have staff unbox their colorful attire to celebrate hope, harmony, and healing.

The entire evening was focused on the efforts of the employees who carry out the mission of CCOC. Program and various department staff arrived at Traditions at the Links dressed to impress, ready for a fun time. The ambience leading up to dinner and the award ceremony exuded the same kind of consideration expected from staff when assisting neighbors seeking services.

Laughter and lively conversations ensued during the cocktail hour as delicious appetizers floated through the room. A plethora of meal options were available, along with an assortment of beverages. In true CCOC fashion, the event committee worked hard to make sure no one felt left out or unwelcome.

A group of employees who have made CCOC their workplace home were honored for reaching either the five-year or ten-year mark. Executive Director Mike Melara offered complimentary remarks highlighting individual contributions to the agency, with help from Chief Program Officer Christ Curry who presented each person with a gift bag. Congratulations to the following staff for their ongoing commitment to the agency and for serving as shining examples of what longevity looks like:

5-Year Anniversary

  • Kristen A.
  • Christine C.
  • Karena H.
  • Tekla H.
  • Marilyn H.
  • Anita H.
  • Shanique H.
  • Rozie K.
  • Robert M.
  • Pamela Q.
  • William R.
  • Lindsay S.
  • Kirsten W.

10-Year Anniversary

  •     Patricia C.
  •     Esparanza D.
  •     Linda D.
  •     Martin M.
  •     Beatrice N.
  •     Tia S.

Two awards special awards have been given out each year. One award is designated for staff in a supervisory role, while the other is reserved for someone operating in a non-supervisory role.

For demonstrating an “exemplary dedication and commitment to the mission of the organization” in a non-supervisory role, Sarah Layhee was selected as the 2022 C. Walter Driscoll Award recipient! As a senior care manager for Adult Health Homes, Sarah has made an impact in the lives of the individuals she works with, while also being a great team member to her colleagues. Congratulations to Sarah!

In homage to the late Rick Kline, who served as the program officer for Developmental Services prior to passing, the Richard A. Kline Leadership Legacy Award is a representation of stewardship at its finest. Two program directors were chosen as the 2022 recipients. Congratulations to Danchell Hicks from Supportive Housing and Ellen Ketchum from Clinical Services for their “uncompromising desire to improve the lives of the people the agency serves.” They have consistently demonstrated their commitment to staff, hard work, humility, innovation, maintaining an indomitable attitude to do hard things, kindheartedness, care for others, and reliability in their supervisory roles. 

Overall, everyone had a great night. It is always a privilege to be able to show gratitude to the individuals who embody COCC’s mission each day. It is a privilege that will be held in high regard for years to come.

“The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.”

– Phil Jackson


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