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

Caroline Pennacchio has 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 has 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 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 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 the 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.”


The pandemic may have isolated us at home, but it connected us to our neighbors in so many new ways.

“Our mother-daughter duos prove that despite the challenges, we can work together to create a resilient community,” added Levy.

Wishing all Moms a Happy Mother’s Day!

About Open Door Family Medical Center and Foundation
Open Door Family Medical Center provides health care and wellness programs to individuals and families in need throughout Westchester, Putnam and Ulster Counties. A pioneer Federally Qualified Health Center, Open Door provides more than 300,000 patient visits annually and serves nearly 60,000 individual patients who might not otherwise have access. Open Door offers integrated services and a holistic approach to building healthier communities. Primary medical care, dental care, integrated behavioral health care, clinical nutrition, wellness programs, and chronic disease management are the foundation of its clinical programs. Founded as a free clinic in 1972, Open Door’s mission of building healthier communities through accessible, equitable, culturally competent health care has led to site and service expansions. Today, Open Door operates centers in Brewster, Mamaroneck, Mount Kisco, Ossining, Port Chester, and Sleepy Hollow, in addition to eight School-Based Health Centers in the Port Chester and Ossining School Districts, a mobile dental van in Mount Kisco, and a dental practice in Saugerties, NY. Open Door is accredited by the Joint Commission and is recognized by the National Committee on Quality Assurance as a Patient-Centered Medical Home. Open Door achieves clinical results that consistently surpass national benchmarks for patient outcomes. For additional information, please contact Elisabeth Gilbert, Senior Director of Development, at 914-502-1417.

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