Volunteer Spotlight Series: Nancy Gillon


Volunteer Nancy Gillon in Witherell’s beauty salon.

If you’re looking for Nancy Gillon, more often than not you’ll find her in the beauty salon at The Nathaniel Witherell – as a volunteer! Gillon, age 69, has clocked more than 820 hours volunteering at the Witherell during the past year, helping in the beauty salon and transporting rehab patients and residents to and from physical therapy.

“I like coming here because it makes me feel good to give back to people who need it,” she says. “Everybody is very caring, from the volunteers to the staff to the aides. It’s a very friendly place.”

In 2009, Gillon began her volunteer service at the Witherell by helping with rehab patient transport. Her one-day-a-week stint soon turned into two days a week. For most people that would be more than enough, but Gillon was looking for even more to do. As luck would have it, she spotted a sign in the beauty salon asking for additional volunteer assistance. She walked right in and signed up for the position, which has morphed into three to four afternoons a week.

With 12 or more salon customers on any given afternoon, Gillon is charged with tasks that range from transporting residents and rehab patients to and from the salon to removing nail polish, taking out curlers, and folding towels. She also does paperwork, including scheduling and billing. Above all, she makes time to chat with the customers and find out how they are doing. “I get to know the full-time residents here and they’re like family to me, as are their children,” says Gillon.

Beauty salon owner Joanne Maciejewski, says, “Nancy is like my right arm. She does everything and anything needed in the salon. I really don’t know how I’d manage without her.” According to Maciejewski, “Nancy is the personification of calm under fire. She’s extremely capable and organized, plus very friendly and warm − a truly winning combination!”

Although much of the volunteer work that Gillon does can be physically demanding, she never complains. “I really look forward to coming to the Witherell. My knees may ache when I leave, but I just feel wonderful!”

In 2013, in honor of her dedicated service, Gillon was named “Most Valuable Volunteer” by The Volunteer Center of Southwestern Fairfield County. She is very humble and downplays the award. But what brings tears to her eyes is the memory of her family, including her three children and five grandchildren, attending the award ceremony at Greenwich Town Hall. “My grandchildren came and brought me flowers. I was happy that they could see how giving back to the community is so important,” she says.

Gillon is among 300 volunteers who donate their time to The Nathaniel Witherell over the course of a year. Volunteering at the Witherell is part of a unique tradition of support from the community going back more than 50 years. Volunteers do a wide range of activities, from running chapel services and presenting music programs, to bringing their pets to visit, taking care of plants, and escorting residents to activities. They are an invaluable resource when it comes to enriching the lives of Witherell residents.

For those interested in volunteering, there are myriad volunteer opportunities to suit any interest and schedule. To find out more about volunteer positions, click here or contact Sally Van Leeuwen at 203-618-4228 or withvolunteers@optonline.net.

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