For years, Blair Senior Services, Inc. wanted to have an award to recognize their Transportation Department employees who are held in high esteem by their peers and demonstrate excellence in every aspect of the job.
According to Dennis Wisor, Transportation Program Manager of the Blair Senior Services, Inc.’s Transportation Department, “We had tried many times to launch a recognition awards program. I am very happy we now have the “Rex Fahr Award for Consumer Service” to recognize the employees who do such good work every day.”
For the first year, Dennis said they kept it simple and the only restriction was that nominees must work in the Transportation/Medical Assistance Transportation Program. Employees of the Transportation Department were encouraged to submit nominations for employees they felt were deserving of this honor based on their dedication to the mission of Blair Senior Services, Inc., quality of service, or any related factors they felt makes them an exceptional employee.
The award was named in memory of the late Rex Fahr, a past Transportation Department driver from June 2013 to January 2016, who was well loved and respected for his exceptional work and personality. “Rex was universally loved by all of his fellow drivers and consumers. He battled cancer for over two years while working and left a mark on the entire Transportation Department,” shared Dennis.
The first recipient of the “Rex Fahr Award for Consumer Service” is Chuck Alessi, Vehicle Operator. He was recognized and received his award at the HIPAA training held in December 2017. Dennis stated, “Chuck is a peer trainer and an overall great driver. He is simply what we strive to be every day.”
Chuck was surprised by the award, but very grateful. “I believe we should be courteous on and off the van, a good representative and ambassador of the company,” shared Chuck. “You appreciate the job and want the company to succeed and it is important to the consumers. For a lot of them, it is the only transportation service they have and they appreciate it.”
He has many fond memories of Rex and his consumers. Recently, Chuck encouraged one of his consumers, who was having difficulty remembering, to do the brainteaser puzzle that appears in every issue of the Seasons Magazine. The next time she rode his van, she told him how much she appreciated the driver that suggested she do the brainteaser puzzle and how it was helping. Her daughter even bought her three-word search books which is making a big difference. She did not remember it was Chuck who made the suggestion, but that is fine with him. He is more concerned with her well-being. “Many of my riders use our transportation service often and I get to know them.”
Rex and Chuck shared similar religious beliefs as Christians and often prayed together before they “took off each day.” Now Chuck is continuing this with the other drivers and keeping Rex’s tradition going. Chuck has been driving for Blair Senior Services, Inc. for five years. He served in the U.S. Navy, was a coal miner and retired from working at Berwind Railroad in Hollidaysburg. He majored in psychology in college.
Other nominees for the award included; Jim Fouse a driver for 8 years, Katie Brinkman a Transportation Program Assistant for 4 ½ years, and Rick Freet a driver for 3 years.
Frances Fahr, Rex’s wife, believes Rex would be happy to know his peers are being recognized. “I have the best job,” Rex would tell Frances every day when he came home from work. “As soon as he got home, he would tell me about the people he drove, always with a smile on his face”, shared Frances. “He would talk about them as he would a special friend or family member which is how he thought of them.”
When asking others to describe Rex, the words caring and compassionate were often repeated and Frances agreed. “There wasn’t anything he wouldn’t do for someone in need.”
Everywhere he went people knew him and he loved talking with them. He told me, “God really blessed me that He gave me this job.” Even as the disease progressed, Frances said it was the desire to care for others that kept him going.
Rex Fahr was a very special man in every way. After a very courageous battle with pancreatic cancer for three years, Rex passed in 2017. But his incredible and unselfish service and compassion for others will always be remembered.
Frances now rides the van and talks with other consumers on the van. When they learn that Rex was her husband they are quick to share their own personal memories of him. Even some who did not get to know Rex share how they have heard stories about his sincere concern and unselfish services for the van riders.
Congratulations to Chuck and all of the well-deserving nominees. Thank you to the hardworking and dedicated Blair Senior Services, Inc. Transportation Department Team for making a positive difference in the community.