News of Otsego County

Catholic Charities

Oneonta warming site at capacity
Oneonta’s warming station at 189 Chestnut Street. (Kevin Limiti/

Oneonta warming site at capacity

By Kevin Limiti

Opportunities for Otsego and the Oneonta Police Department are exploring strategies to get homeless people in the area sheltered now that winter is here.

An executive order issued by former Governor Andrew Cuomo says that after temperatures go below 32 degrees, the homeless must be sheltered.

Catholic Charities, the Main Street Baptist Church, Otsego County Department of Social Services, and other religious groups opened a new warming station in Oneonta in March 2021 to allow those outside to warm up during the cold weather.

At Warming Station, Needy Are Sheltered

At Warming Station,
Needy Are Sheltered

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

Cindy King hangs an “OPEN” sign in the window of the Community Warming Station, 189 Chestnut St., Oneonta, Monday, March 8. (Ian Austin/

‘Happy are they … who give justice to those who are oppressed, food to those who are hungry, and shelter to those in need,” said Rev. Cynthia Walton Leavitt, pastor of the United Presbyterian “Red Door” Church.

The pastor was speaking Monday, March 8, as a member of the Caring for the Homeless Population Collaboration, founded in 2018 under the auspices of Fox Hospital, on the initiative of Dr. Reg Knight, who chaired Fox’s Ethics Committee.

Pastor Leavitt was leading the Blessing Service where Knight’s goal was reached: Oneonta’s one-of-a-kind Community Warming Station opened at 5 p.m. at 189 Chestnut St.

The first client showed up at 9:15 p.m.

Beginning Monday, and continuing through Sunday, April 11, the Warming Station will be open seven days a week. The first occupant showed up at 9:15 Monday evening, when temperatures would drop overnight to 21 degrees. (The night before the station opened, it dropped to 1.)

“We’re so blessed to have this open,” the pastor said.

Walton Leavitt has been involved since the beginning (and is also involved in the Hunger Coalition of Otsego County), driven by what she sees as a continuing need, evident in “an occasional knock on (her) door.”

Usually, it happens after Catholic Charities or other human service agencies are closed for the day or weekend, she said.

‘Code Blue’ Fears Spur Shelter Idea

‘Code Blue’ Fears Spur Shelter Idea

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

Main Street Baptist Church has stepped up to provide a home shelter on “Code Blue” nights this winter, when temperatures are below freezing, or the wind chill makes it feel that way.

The only obstacle is $40,000-50,000 – a one-time sum needed to enable Catholic Charities to run the program. Once it gets going, the state will fund it.

So a fundraising effort was launched this week, according to Brad Feik, liaison between the Baptist church and Caring for the Homeless Collaborative, which Fox Hospital assembled two years ago on discovering its Emergency Room was the shelter available from wintry storms.

A letter went out Monday, Dec. 7, to the county’s “faith community,” signed by the Rev. Cynthia Walton-Leavitt, pastor of Oneonta’s “Red Door” Presbyterian Church, and Jennifer Schuman, of Fox’s Homeless Collaborative.

“Any donation of any amount is welcome to make this heartfelt dream of a Community Warming Station come true,” said the letter.

A member of Main Street Baptist provided 189 Main St., a former optical store, for the warming station, according to Feik, who with his wife Noel operate Otego’s Crossroads Inn, providing sober-living housing for people released from rehab and jail, and for the homeless.

Renovations began over the weekend, said Feik, and should be completed in the next few days. The hope is to open the warming station in mid-January, at the time it’s most needed.

He estimated there are 50-60 homeless people in Oneonta at any one time, and when “Code Blue” weather arrives, 3-7 people may sleep from 7:30 p.m. to 8 a.m. In some cases, people whose furnaces runs out of oil during cold snaps will use the facility as well.

The “warming station” concept emerged two years ago from Fox Hospital’s Ethics Committee, which was concerned about removing homeless people from the Emergency Room where they congregated on cold nights because they had nowhere else to go, according to Schuman.

She called Dr. Reggie Knight, who last month was named chief physician executive for Bassett Healthcare Network, the “administrative champion” of the concept. Feik also credited Jeff Joyner,

Fox Hospital president who was recently promoted to Network COO.

“We’ve been speaking with funding sources and asking local citizens for contributions,” said Schuman.

“Code Blue” was defined a few years ago by an executive order from Governor Cuomo. Currently, on cold nights people in need of shelter must go to the Opportunity for Otsego shelter and use the term “Code Blue” to receive a voucher a night’s lodging, Schuman said.

The warming station, she said, “would be a very low barrier” for people seeking shelter, some of who are “people who have difficulty with authority.”

According to Feik, the demand for the “warming station” might actually be less than usual this winter, since COVID-19 regulations have prevented banks from foreclosing and landlords from evicting tenants.

He emphasized that the $40,000-50,000 is a one-time amount. Once the program gets going, the state Office of Temporary Disability will pay for it, Feik said, but there’s a six-month lag, and Catholic Charities doesn’t have the reserves to run the operation in the meantime.

In 1st Month, 230 Give Foundation $175K

In 1st Month, 230

Give Foundation $175K

COOPERSTOWN – The one-month old Community Foundation for Otsego County has raised $175,000 in donations in its first four weeks of operation from 230 individuals so far.

In the last 10 days, the foundation’s COVID-19 Fund has also made five awards, and now has a total of 17 in review or completed. Completed awards include:

• HELIOS CARE – $5,000 to buy PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) for staff to visit patient homes.

• CATHOLIC CHARITIES of Delaware, Otsego & Schoharie Counties -$5,000 to buy PPE and supplies for child-care providers in private homes.

• BASSETT MEDICAL CENTER – $7,500 to distribute gift cards for gas and food to employees who have been furloughed or had hours reduced due to clearing the facility for COVID-related use.

• FOX HOSPITAL – $3,000 for the same purposes as Bassett.

• COOPERSTOWN FOOD PANTRY – $3,000 to buy farmers’ market vouchers to give to families that use food pantries.

In another instance of community support, Alex’s World Bistro dedicated “Well Spent Wednesday” on April 29 to the fund, donated 15 percent the day’s receipts. The Bistro will reprise this in the near future.
In addition, the town boards of Worcester, Cherry Valley and Otsego have passed resolutions supporting the fund, as has the Cooperstown Village Board and Oneonta Common Council.
U.S. Rep. Antonio Delgado, D-19, state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, and Assembly John Salka, R-Brookfield, have also announced support for the fund.

Qualified nonprofit organizations may obtain applications from the foundation website,; donations are also accepted online at the website.

For news updates, check Contact the foundation at
Contributions are still being sought from individuals, companies, other local foundations and organizations. Online gifts have the most immediate impact and can be accepted at
Donations can also be sent to the Community Foundation of Otsego County, P.O. Box 55, Springfield Center, NY 13468.

Helios, OFO Top Recipients Of Community Foundation Of South Central NY Grants

Helios, OFO Top Recipients Of

Community Foundation Grants

ONEONTA – Nine community organizations, including Helios Care, Opportunities for Otsego and Catholic Charities, have received more than $65,000 in grants from the Community Foundation for South Central New York to help the fight against COVID-19.

“Typically, we support school districts, arts organizations and human services,” said Diane Brown, executive director. “But COVID-19 hit in the middle of our spring grant cycle, so we repurposed our funding.”

Maureen Glueckert, 83; Native Of Scotland, Fox Hospital Employee

IN MEMORIAM: Maureen Glueckert, 83;

Native Of Scotland, Fox Hospital Employee

ONEONTA – Maureen Glueckert,  83, a native of Scotland who moved to Oneonta in 1999 and worked at Fox Hospital, passed away on April 11, 2020, following a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

She was born on Sept. 28, 1936, in Clydebank, Scotland, to Catherine and William Gorman. Maureen graduated from Clydebank High School and then she moved to the United States in January 1960, where she met and married Fred Glueckert a year later.

Susan J. Vaughn, 52; Social Services Executive Dies In Crash

IN MEMORIAM: Susan J. Vaughn, 52;

Social Services Executive Dies In Crash

Susan J. Vaughn

RICHFIELD SPRINGS – Susan J. Vaughn, 52, who held leadership positions in Catholic Charities and Youth Care in the Seattle area, passed away Feb. 9, 2020, in Lake Stevens, Wash., as a result of a car accident.

She was born Dec. 30, 1967, in Ilion, daughter of Roger S. and Diane S. (Slocum) Vaughn of Richfield Springs.

She was educated in the Richfield Springs school system and received her B.A. in Human Services from Western Washington University in Bellingham, and her M.A. in Organizational Management from the University of Phoenix in Arizona.

All Welcome At Neahwa Park Free Lunch Program

All Welcome For Lunch

At Neahwa Park Pavilion

Volunteer Christy Houck makes up a tray of lunch at the Summer Food Service program as she gets a carton of milk from her son Josh, also a volunteer. The annual free lunch program, sponsored by Catholic Charities in partnership with the First United Presbyterian Church, offers a sandwich, fruit, vegetables and milk from Noon – 1 p.m. Monday – Friday, through Aug. 23 in the large pavilion at Neahwa Park. Now in it’s sixth year, the Summer Food Program has expanded to offer meals to children and their families, as well as the homeless, and has added programs from Huntington Library and Cornell Cooperative Extension. In addition, they are running buses to three of Oneonta’s mobile home parks to assist residents in accessing the meal program.  (Ian Austin/
Kathleen F. Howarth, 93; Farmer Helped Found W. Kortright Center

IN MEMORIAM: Kathleen F. Howarth, 93;

Farmer Helped Found W. Kortright Center

Kathleen Howarth

ONEONTA – Kathleen F. Howarth, 92, a founder of the West Kortright Center, formerly of Meredith and Oneonta, passed away Feb. 6, 2019, in Winston-Salem, N.C., where she had resided since June 2017.

Kathleen was born Oct. 18, 1926, in New Rochelle, the daughter of immigrants, John and Anne (nee Hackett) Feeney.  She was a graduate of St. Gabriel’s High School there.

On April 18, 1949, she married Owen Howarth at Holy Family Church, New Rochelle. Owen predeceased her March 31, 2013.

Catholic Charities Offers Help To Federal Workers

U.S. Shutdown At Record 23 Days

Catholic Charities Offers

Help To Federal Workers

ONEONTA – The Oneonta office of Catholic Charities, which serves Otsego, Delaware and Schoharie counties, is joining efforts to assist furloughed federal workers.

Through programs like food pantries, counseling, and information and referrals, Catholic Charities can offer some assistance to workers who may be struggling at this time,  Paul McEvoy Albany diocese spokesman, announced over the weekend.

With U.S. government shutdown in its record 23rd day,  local people affected by the shutdown should call: 607-432-0061

Justice Must Be Done, And SEEN To Be Done

Editorial for October 19, 2018

Justice Must Be Done,
And SEEN To Be Done

The Freeman’s Journal – Joseph Zupnik stands for his sentencing Sept. 12 in Otsego Town Court.

The truism, “not only must Justice be done; it must also be seen to be done” – actually, it’s a famed quote from a 1924 British legal case – should apply to court proceedings and – if credibility is to be maintained – to democratic government generally.
With intent interest, the citizens of Otsego County have observed the wheels of justice turn since Memorial Day Weekend 2016, after it surfaced that a resident of Focus Otsego, identified only as M.P., had been left sitting in a chair, largely untended, for 41 hours.
In the subsequent months, four aides and LPNs responsible for M.P.’s care faced criminal charges and were convicted. The state Attorney General’s Office then took up the case, and brought nine charges against two top executives at Focus Healthcare, the Rockland County corporation that owned former county nursing home in Index, Town of Hartwick.
The Focus CEO, Joseph Zupnik, and the financial officer, Daniel Herman, were found guilty of one count of neglect, a misdemeanor, on Sept. 12 in Otsego Town Court. On Oct. 10, Town Justice Gary Kuch fined each of them $1,000 and sentenced each to 250 hours of community service. (The state has also fined the men $1 million, which they will split.)

So far, the proceedings have been transparent. Now, it appears the public is limited to what it can learn about the final step – how and where the 250 hours will be served.
The defendants’ lawyers asked that the men fulfill their obligation near their homes, Zupnik in Rockland County, where he is an EMT, and Herman in New Jersey.

The attorney general’s prosecutor, Kathleen Boland, argued the responsibility should be fulfilled in Otsego County. Judge Kuch sagely observed: “Doing community service at something you love doing – it doesn’t make any sense to me.”
However, he noted court rules prevent him from even making a recommendation. That decision is now in the hands of Alternatives to Incarceration, which has been administered under contract with the county since April 2011 by the Catholic Charities chapter, based in Oneonta.
The director, Ameen Aswad, will immediately tell you he can’t talk about specific cases, but he said that, generally, he assigns defendants referred to him to tasks within the county. The exception can come in cases where a guilty party was visiting for a short period from somewhere far away.
The nursing home’s Family Council has expressed no preference about where the community service should be done, according to its secretary, Bill Hayes.
In a letter to Kuch, Hayes and his wife, Betsy, Family Council chair, urge the men serve their time in “a residential facility’s laundry room, processing soiled garments and the equivalent of the ubiquitous brown washcloths they ordered for residents’ personal hygiene.” However, Bill Hayes said the couple has no firm opinion where the service should be, either.
Here’s another view: The case occurred in Otsego County; the community service should be done in Otsego County. Justice that can’t be observed is justice taken on faith. Is that good enough?

Be that as it may, Aswad said that Alternatives to Incarceration – it is overseen by a 19-person advisory board that includes police, judges, people from community services agencies, even a representative of the college – hasn’t made public what service culprits are required to perform or where.
The Committee on Open Government, which provides advice on the state’s Freedom of Information Law, says that court records are specifically exempt from FOIL. But if, in fact, Alternatives to Incarceration is a county agency – like, for instance, the probation department – it would be subject to FOIL.
There’s no reason why it should get to that.
There are differences of opinion on Zupnik and Herman’s community service. Given the high profile and emotions excited by M.P.’s case, it might make sense – and this may be argued otherwise, too – to allow the culprits to fulfill their obligation without publicity.
This is certain: When it’s over, there should a public accounting. The Alternatives to Incarceration board owes that to the public, for its own credibility if nothing else.
Not only must justice be done; it must also be seen to be done.

Click Here to read report on the October 10 sentencing of FOCUS executives Joseph Zupnik and Daniel Herman in Otsego Town Court.

Seward Delivers Funding To OFO To Combat Domestic Violence

Seward Delivers Funding 

To Fight Domestic Violence

State Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, announces funding for Opportunities for Otsego’s domestic-violence prevention program at OFO’s West Broadway headquarters Monday afternoon.   With him, from left, are OFO Crisis Intervention Director Will Rivera, Catholic Charities Executive Director Lynn Glueckert, Delaware Opportunities Executive Director Shelly Bartow and OFO CEO Dan Maskin. OFO and Catholic Charities of Otsego and Schoharie counties will receive $15,000 each, and $7,000 each goes to Delaware Opportunities and Liberty Resources (Chenango County). “These community programs provide vital services for those in dire need,” said Seward, “We are fortunate to have so many local organizations providing help to vulnerable individuals, and I am pleased to assist them in their efforts to make our communities safer. These agencies are lifelines and, in many cases, are all that stand between a domestic violence victim and further harm.” (Ian Austin/
One In Six Countians Poor, Catholic Charities Exec Says

One In Six Countians Poor,

Catholic Charities Exec Says

One in six of our neighbors live in poverty, Lynn Glueckert, executive director, Catholic Charities of Delaware, Otsego & Schoharie Counties, tells a Citizen Voices' public forum this morning at the Carriage House, Southside Oneonta. Otsego Now President Sandy Mathes then spoke, outlining plans to raise prosperity in the county. (Ian Austin/
One in six of our neighbors live in poverty, Lynn Glueckert, executive director, Catholic Charities of Delaware, Otsego & Schoharie Counties, tells a Citizen Voices’ public forum this morning at the Carriage House, Southside Oneonta. Otsego Now President Sandy Mathes then spoke, outlining the former IDA’s plans to raise prosperity in the county. (Ian Austin/
2 Catholic Charities Offices Put Under Oneonta’s Administration

2 Catholic Charities Offices Put

Under Oneonta’s Administration

Lynn Glueckert
Lynn Glueckert

ONEONTA – Offices in Oneonta, Delhi and Cobleskill have combined into a single agency called Catholic Charities of Delaware, Otsego, and Schoharie counties, based in Oneonta.

The change took place July 1, but was announced by the diocese today. Lynn Glueckert, the Oneonta director, has been named executive director of the three-county effort.

She said the merger will make the smaller Delaware and Schoharie operations stronger by allowing Oneonta to handle their administrative duties.

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