BINGHAMTON, NY – As Catholic Charities prepares for its upcoming Weekend of Angels, it’s highlighting an example of the sort of caring that helped many get through the pandemic.
Like so many businesses and organizations, the Four Seasons Club in Binghamton had to shut down in March of 2020.
The social club was established in 1983 as a gathering place for people with a mental health history.
One of the program’s goals is to reduce isolation, so shutting down the club was difficult for the members.
So Lizanne Clifford and other staff members developed the idea of a drive by parade called Spread the Happy.
Catholic Charities Program Manager Kimberly DeSantis-Johns says employees went out of their way to stay connected with the club members.
“We were able to see them face-to-face, something we hadn’t been able to do the 6 weeks prior. And that started us to keep going on for the rest of the summer and the fall and through the winter until we could reopen. So, we were able to get that face-to-face contact that we were missing and that they were also missing,” says DeSantis-Johns.
Taking their inspiration from the song Happy by Pharrell Williams, the staff decorated 4 cars with balloons and uplifting messages and drove by the homes of almost 60 clients over 2 days last May.
Four Seasons Club Manager Abbe Hamill says the the members and employees are like one big family.
“People were laughing, smiling, some people were dancing to the music. And we even brought out neighbors of folks we were driving by. Just saying what a phenomenal thing it was, what a great job. So, we brought smiles to the community in many instances,” says Hamill.
While the club reopened this past March, it still has limited capacity so the staff continue to work out ways to keep the members engaged.
This weekend, a fundraiser in Skaneateles will raise money for Catholic Charities programming.
A Weekend of Angels includes a Dinner in White on Saturday evening and the CCBC Angels Cup Polo Match and Champagne Brunch on Sunday, all taking place at the Skaneateles Polo Club.
For ticket information, go to CatholicCharitiesBC.org.