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Two Chapel Haven staffers are being hailed for their heroic and selfless actions after they intervened to save the life of a Chapel Haven adult on June 3.

Sunny Richards, Director of Community Programs, and Adam Ursone, Work-Based Learning Specialist in the CareerAbility program at Chapel Haven, were honored during a special surprise ceremony Wednesday, June 16, 10 a.m. in the courtyard of Chapel Haven Schleifer Center.

Shawn Feldman, SAIL resident and choking victim, helped present the awards and told the gathered staff that the two staff persons saved her life and she is grateful.

Click here to read a story in the New Haven Register.

Chapel Haven President Michael Storz was joined by Richard Branigan, Chief Operating Officer of the American Red Cross Connecticut and Rhode Island Region, in remarks and a presentation of awards.

The choking incident took place in the SAIL program on June 3, when Chapel Haven SAIL resident Shawn began choking on a sandwich wrap. Richards and Ursone were in the café and noticed that Shawn had stopped speaking and could not respond verbally. They quickly realized the urgency of the situation. Staff called 911 as Sunny and Adam stepped in to perform life-saving procedures on the spot. When the EMTs responded, Shawn was breathing and responsive.

“I am so proud of both staff for stepping in and acting so quickly,” Storz said. “You never know how you will respond in such an urgent situation. Sunny and Adam would not give up and persevered. We are grateful for their efforts.”

According to Injury Facts 2017, choking is the fourth leading cause of unintentional injury death. Chapel Haven staff complete American Red Cross CPR training and recertification every two years. The curriculum helps train staff with the knowledge and skills they need for effective leadership in the event of an emergency.

“We are pleased to hear of Chapel Haven’s commitment to prepare their staff,” said Branigan. “We encourage everyone to take lifesaving courses, so they’ll have the knowledge and confidence to act in an emergency, just like Sunny and Adam.”

About Chapel Haven Schleifer Center: Founded in 1972, Chapel Haven Schleifer Center has been empowering adults with disabilities to live independent lives for nearly 50 years. This award-winning non-profit teaches adults with developmental and social disabilities to live independent and productive lives through a nationally accredited transitional living program and approved private special education school. Chapel Haven recently completed a $45 million campus transformation. More at