Cindy Perry retiring after 25 years of promoting community health
MEDINA – Cindy Perry has had an exciting and rewarding career with Orleans Community Health’s Community Partners, a program she helped develop and grow for 25 years.
Now Perry, a resident of Waterport, has decided it’s time to retire. Thursday is officially her last day.
The decision to retire was easier to make with the knowledge Jessica Capurso will step into the role she has nurtured and cultivated all through the years.
Perry, who has a home on Lake Alice, grew up on the western end of the lake. She attended school in Albion and graduated from Lyndonville High School. She initially went to school in Rochester to become a dental assistant, but soon realized that was not for her.
She entered Brockport State College, and although she had excelled in chemistry, her duo major in school and community was a perfect fit. As part of her studies at Brockport, she did an internship at Medina Memorial Hospital, which later resulted in her being hired there. At the time, the hospital was just starting a pre-natal care program.
She met Fran Perry of Medina when he stopped to help her with a flat tire, and they were married in 1982.
“Both of us wanted to live in the country, and we bought this summer cottage, which was built in 1957, the year I was born,” Perry said. “It wasn’t even winterized.”
In 1993, Perry contracted with Medina Memorial Hospital, and after two years they hired her.
Her early career was spent in writing a lot of grants, which were plentiful back then. As Perry and the hospital worked to develop wellness programs, which included diabetes, healthy heart, smoking cessation and dental health for children, Community Partners grew.
Community Partners has always based its programs on community need, Perry said.
“Orleans County has had high incidences of smokers, cardiovascular disease and lead poisoning,” she said. “There were never any resources for dental health.”
Through the years, Perry developed the Teddy Bear Clinic, one of her favorite programs, in which children are brought to the hospital to view it in a non-threatening way. Then came Breakfast with Santa and an arthritis exercise program. She also promoted their speakers’ group, in which qualified individuals from the hospital would agree to speak to organizations or events, in an effort to market the hospital’s services and educate the community.
“We have developed a lot of partnerships with community organizations, such as GCASA, Community Action and the Health Department,” Capurso said.
Perry’s husband died in 2011, only a week after being diagnosed with small cell lung cancer.
Several years ago, she received a visit from Mark Follman, who grew up across the lake and with whom she had gone to school since third grade.
“We rode motorcycles to school and water skied together,” Perry said. “He says he had a crush on me way back then.”
They have become engaged and will live in her house on the lake. Follman’s parents still live in Kenyonville.
Perry has always been active in her community, having been involved in Healthy Orleans Network, Albion Rotary, United Way, Community Action’s Policy Council and Health and Wellness Committee, Opioid Task Force, Suicide Prevention Committee, Office for the Aging’s Advisory Council, Human Services Council, Diabetes Coalition, Orleans United Drug Free Communities Coalition and Lead Prevention Coalition.
Although she is looking forward to this new phase in her life, Perry admits life will be different not having to go to work.
“I’ve worked since I was 12 years old, and I’ve never been on unemployment,” she said. “But I’m ready to kick back and spend some time with family members. I’ve loved working at the hospital and working for the community. But when Jess started working for me, I knew she was the one to take over. She has a personality that fits the position. I spent a lot of time developing that department and I want someone who will carry on that legacy. I feel very calm and confident she will do a good job.”
Capurso came to Albion when her family moved from Hamlin when she was 4. She graduated from Albion High School in 1999 and attended Genesee Community College for two years, and then received a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Brockport State College. Her first job was at CRFS as a claims processor, where in two years she had advanced to the role of assistant vice president.
She left that position when she was offered the job as executive director of United Way of Orleans County. Capurso has worked with Perry in community outreach since 2015.
“I’m extremely excited about my new position,” Capurso said. “I’ve also had jobs at McDonald’s and Rite Aid, but I think now I’ve really found my niche. A job where I can make a difference in my community means more to me. This job offers more interaction. When I teach a pre-diabetes class, I’m changing lifestyles, and I still get to use my marketing degree.”