SCHENECTADY — CSEA members employed by the Schenectady County Probation Department have been playing a key role in a large, multi-month COVID emergency response operation that continues.

Late last winter, efforts surrounded a large-scale food distribution program that saw county employees, volunteers and staff from the local Boys and Girls Club come together to pack and distribute food to community members in need.

“Our ‘work from home’ weeks were spent at the ‘club,’ as we called it,” said CSEA Schenectady County Office Unit President Katie Soule, a probation officer.

In this 2020 file photo, Schenectady County Public Works employee John Roth left, and CSEA Schenectady County Office Unit President Katie Soule help package groceries for families in need.

In this 2020 file photo, Schenectady County Public Works employee John Roth left, and CSEA Schenectady County Office Unit President Katie Soule help package groceries for families in need.

“We estimate packing up thousands and thousands of food bags,” said Soule, who also serves as CSEA’s Schenectady County Employees Local treasurer. “During the re-opening phase, we were pulled in, in part due to our experience in working within the community with a variety of populations, our professionalism, adaptability and willingness to and desire to help. We were assigned to assist our County Public Health Department, which was completely overwhelmed with managing the health crisis, by aiding the Environmental Health members with performing inspections of local gyms who sought approval to reopen.”

Soule said Probation Department workers helped in numerous ways, including helping with crowd control and data entry at county vaccinations sites at Schenectady County Community College and municipal housing complexes.

The workers also happily helped at several community food bank drive-thru events held at the community college that served more than 600 families.

Workers are also helping in another special way.

“Most recently, and ongoing, we have been assisting over at the county run nursing home (Glendale) managing visitation, enabling loved ones to enjoy visits on-site,” Soule said. “Our training in de-escalation techniques, motivational interviewing along with our strong desire to serve our community, and our organizational and time management skills have enabled us to support other departments and the community, while still maintaining a high level of probation work. These efforts combine to support a safe, strong community and, of equal importance, build unity within our membership.”

“We were all very eager and honored to be able to help. We really felt like our efforts were making a difference in helping our community impacted by COVID in so many different ways,” said Soule.

— Therese Assalian

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Therese Assalian

Therese has been working as the Capital Region Communications Specialist since 2002 handling all facets of internal and external communications for the region. Therese started her career at a Madison Avenue Public Relations firm and held several positions in public relations, marketing and event planning in corporate and non-profit roles in New York and Pittsburgh prior to moving to the Capital Region in 1999. Therese holds Bachelors and Masters degrees in Communication Studies and is also a published freelance writer on travel, food and the arts.

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