OLEAN- Over thirty-six years ago, Carol Mahoney began her career as Executive Director of what was then known as Home Health Care of Cattaraugus County.
By mid-September, she will retire from her role as CEO of Community Care of WNY, known widely as HomeCare & Hospice, President and CEO of Total Senior Care, and CEO of the HomeCare & Hospice Foundation.
Originally from Western New York, Mahoney was living in New Jersey when she saw the position for ‘Executive Director of Home Health Care of Cattaraugus County Inc.’ in the Buffalo News. Wanting to live closer to her parents who resided in East Aurora, she considered the career changes that would need to be made to provide them more assistance over time.
“The prospect of advancing the mission of home care seemed like more than an appropriate fit,” said Mahoney. “It seemed like a no-brainer for reasons of meaningful work and proximity to family.”
Before her career began, Carol attended Iroquois High School in Elma, NY, graduated at 16 and went on to SUNY College at Fredonia for three semesters before transferring to SUNY Buffalo and completing her bachelor’s in Psychology before attending Montclair State College in NJ for graduate school.
“I tied my mattress to the top of my car, packed my things and headed to New Jersey when I was 20 to start graduate school,” Mahoney said. She later transferred to St. Bonaventure earning a M.S. Ed. In Community Counseling.
During and after graduate studies, Carol worked with cognitively disabled youth at the West Seneca State Development Center. Her other work includes an educational position with Planned Parenthood for Passaic County, N.J., several years with the formerly known Comprehensive Employment & Training Administration (CETA) program, coordinating the summer youth employment program for Passaic county. There she worked to provide hundreds of disadvantaged youths with income and meaningful activities. She then went on to become the Director of Operations for the entire CETA program, which transitioned to the Private Industry Council, followed by grant-writing for technical schools.
“The rest is history, as I came to Home Health Care after that,” said Mahoney.
“It is nearly impossible to adequately put into words or define what has been most rewarding about this work,” said Mahoney. “Most certainly, in reflecting on more than thirty-six years, much has been the joy and passion of the people with whom I have shared this journey and have had the privilege to know. Among these are not only our amazing, dedicated staff members and remarkable board members and volunteers, but also those here and in other communities who have become friends through opportunities to serve in other capacities. “
The organization was founded in 1971 as the Olean Homemakers Service, providing “homemakers” to frail elders and those recovering from illness. A name change to Home Health Care of Cattaraugus and addition of aide services was approved in 1982. Mahoney, arriving in March 1985, was instrumental in achieving licensure of home care services for the organization (1987), the addition and approval of Hospice services (1991), merger and acquisition to expand services and geography (2000) and the initiation of PACE (program of all-inclusive care for the elderly) as Total Senior Care (2008).
“It has been a remarkable experience to be a part of the growth in services this organization has reached”, said Mahoney, “and to have expanded our footprint beyond Cattaraugus county to include Allegany, Wyoming, and Genesee counties.” With a focus on rural health care and the needs demonstrated in the expanded service area, the organization went through several corporate and business name changes, landing on Community Care of Western New York (CCWNY) as its primary company name.
Aside from CCCWNY, Carol currently serves on the Supervisory Committee of the Olean Area Federal Credit Union and will continue there. She also plans to continue as a volunteer on the Greater Olean Area Chamber of Commerce (GOACC) events committee. Her volunteerism over the year has included service on the boards of the Southern Tier Health Care System, Genesis House, Interfaith Caregivers, the St. Elizabeth Motherhouse (advisory council), Olean General Hospital, First Baptist Church, the NYS Association of Health Care Providers, GOACC, and the Hospice Group.
Mahoney has been recognized with numerous accolades, including the GOACC prestigious “Louie” Award, the GOACC Good News Award, recognition as a NY State Senate Woman of Distinction, and the YMCA Salute to Olean award. She is also a graduate of the Health Leadership Fellows program of the Health Foundation of Western & Central New York.
As far as plans for after retirement, Carol plans on also enjoying time with her (recently retired) husband, grandson, daughter and son-in-law, travel, revisiting guitar, music and writing and getting back to concerts and theater.
“I will miss the ‘feeling’ and the ‘knowing’ that I always have when working… that it is time spent for good. This organization is a deeply meaningful place to work, with people and experiences that have allowed me to evolve, encouraging my growth and confidence along the way,” said Mahoney. “I relate to the song lyrics from the musical Wicked. ‘Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better? But because I knew you (this organization), I have been changed for good.’”