Mother-Daughter Duos Building Resilient Communities

Mother’s Day is a moment to reflect on how mothers and daughters have been inspired to help other mothers and their families during these difficult times.


This has been particularly true at Open Door Family Medical Center, where the Federally Qualified Health Center seeks to ensure its patients, who are among the area’s most vulnerable, continue to receive the care and resources they need for optimal health. 


“The pandemic has amplified the need for Open Door to continue to strengthen the community and give our patients tools for healthy living,” said Jane Levy, senior manager of volunteer programs at Open Door. Levy, who was recently named among the Crain’s New York Notables in Nonprofits and Philanthropy, adds, “Mother’s Day is a good day to say thank you to the contributions of mothers and daughters, who make such a profound difference in public health.


Take the examples of two mother-daughter teams, the Pennacchios and the Chos.


The Pennacchios


Marie and Caroline Pennacchio

Caroline Pennacchio had an outstanding role model in her mother, Marie, who presently serves on the Open Door board of directors. As a child, she saw her mother routinely support others, whether it was being part of a “food chain” that cooked for those in the community who were sick or helping to collect clothes or toys around the holidays. 


She recently volunteered as an Open Door Health Screener and then again when there was a call for COVID vaccinators. As Second Lieutenant with the Briarcliff Manor Ambulance, Caroline trained to become certified to vaccinate patients. She helped alongside clinical staff during a pop-up clinic at Open Door Port Chester.


“I’ve come to view Open Door as the absolute embodiment of holistic care,” said Marie Pennacchio, who is also a volunteer driver for the Open Door Food Distribution program. “I am truly impressed with their collaborative care model, which I believe has a direct relationship on the success rates in patient compliance for the myriad of health issues they address. In an age of uncertainty in many domains for the communities we serve, Open Door’s services and programs restore control for our patients in countless ways.”


The Open Door Wellness team, in partnership with Feeding Westchester, has ramped up its food distribution, nutrition assistance and education efforts throughout the pandemic to meet the growing demand of families in need. In 2020, Open Door staff, along with volunteer drivers like Marie, provided door-to-door delivery of over 4,000 emergency food packages to Open Door families.


Caroline has also knitted nearly 100 baby hats for the Open Door Baby Bundle program, which provides prenatal patients with education and resources to provide their newborns with a healthy and safe start. 


The Chos 

Carol and Maria Cho

Carol Cho’s mother, Maria, taught her four daughters – Carol being the eldest – the importance of volunteering from the time they were small. The civic-minded family’s volunteer efforts have ranged from community soup kitchens to leading faith-based retreats for their church. 


Carol and Maria Cho have often volunteered on the same projects, such as the Open Door Mamaroneck Fresh Food Market and its Annual Holiday Toy Drive. 


“I just want to do my part in helping to lift up the holiday spirits and making someone’s holiday season that much merrier.”


For the toy drive, Carol enrolled her department at New York Life to donate toys that she and her mother later gift wrapped and organized for distribution. Last year, volunteers collected, sorted and distributed over 3,500 toys at Open Door. 


“My mother and I don’t live that close to each other, and I thought volunteering with Open Door, an organization that had done important work in the community for so long, would be a good opportunity to spend time with my mom while making a difference in the lives of others,” said Carol Cho. “Open Door Ossining is the mid-point between our homes.”

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