Sally Van Leeuwen Retires After 26 Years of Service to The Nathaniel Witherell
From managing volunteers, art shows and our quarterly “Pooches On Parade” event, to filling in as communications manager for “Project Renew,” Sally Van Leeuwen has worn many hats at the Nathaniel Witherell during the 26 years she worked and volunteered here. It’s been a great run – inspiring, in fact. Now, Sally wants to put her feet up and relax. So, we tip our hat to her and thank her profusely for her years of service as she retires in mid-July.
“Sally has always been willing to take on a large range of tasks without question,” notes Scott Neff, executive director of Friends of the Nathaniel Witherell. “She’s had a real ‘can-do’ attitude and brought wonderful enthusiasm to everything she took on.”
And what she took on was pretty amazing: managing volunteers, running the gift shop, overseeing the greenhouse, doing the holiday decorating, organizing art shows, writing the Witherell newsletter, and taking on “special projects.” Sally’s energy amazed everyone. Her natural skill as a “problem-solver” always came in handy.
A Greenwich resident, Sally first became aware of the Nathaniel Witherell when she saw an ad calling for participants for a “baby show.” “At that time, we’d host ‘baby shows’ for residents that featured an adorable parade of local tots,” Sally recalls. The ad caught Sally’s eye because, as a young mother, she had been searching for volunteer opportunities that didn’t necessitate childcare. She answered the call with her two year-old daughter in tow, and has been a fixture at the Nathaniel Witherell ever since.
After her first volunteer experience, Sally went on to spend the next 16 years volunteering in various capacities. “I think my affinity for seniors comes from the great relationship I had with my maternal grandmother,” she explains. Sally tended plants, visited residents accompanied by her young daughters, transported residents to rehab and events, and worked in recreation. Then, Sally was tapped by the Friends of Nathaniel Witherell to serve as a full-time Volunteer Coordinator.
During the past 10 years, Sally enlisted and trained many volunteers. “The Greenwich community has such a connection to the Nathaniel Witherell; people here are very supportive,” she notes. Sally estimates that a third of her volunteers are students. “The students bring a lot of energy and fresh ideas.” One such idea was a new technology program that’s being piloted in July with Sally’s assistance.
Besides dashing from one activity to another at the Witherell, Sally is also a dedicated long distance runner. To date, she’s competed in 20 marathons in such cities as New York, Boston, Los Angeles, and Paris. When asked what’s ahead, Sally is taking it one day at a time. Based on all she’s accomplished both at the Witherell and as a competitive runner, one thing is clear: she won’t be slowing down any time soon!
Cheers, and best of luck, Sally!