During National Volunteers Week, a Special Luncheon and Words of Wisdom From an Insider

Volunteers are the lifeblood of the Nathaniel Witherell, connecting and building community and helping to enrich the lives of our residents.


(pictured above: l-r  Mary Tate, Volunteer Coordinator; Chef Thomas Russell; Carissa Ronish, Therapeutic Recreation Director.

“Volunteers play an incredibly important role here,” notes Mary Tate, who coordinates all volunteer activity for the Town’s revered short-term rehab and long-term skilled nursing center of care. “They do so much for our residents, every day of the week, all year round,” she adds, pointing to recreational activities, plant care, pet therapy, card and board games, and assisting at the hair salon and with transportation.

During National Volunteers Week (this year, April 16-22, 2023), the Witherell honored their volunteers at a special luncheon. While Witherell resident Michael Thorn performed contemporary piano selections, volunteers feasted on the sole stuffed with crab meat, chicken piccata, fondant potatoes, asparagus, and chocolate fudge bundt cake prepared under the direction of Thomas Russell, the Witherell’s new executive chef

A Moving Story, Told by a Witherell Resident

One of the other highlights of this annual event was a moving talk, given by Witherell resident Anne Firmender (pictured below on the right), who at one time was a volunteer at the Stamford Homeless Shelter. She shared that experience with us:

“At another time in my life, I, too, was a volunteer. I cooked and served meals at a Stamford homeless shelter, then at a homeless shelter for men. I did this because I was once homeless and lived at a homeless shelter for women. It is where I learned how to write poetry. What a gift! Then I became a volunteer at the men’s shelter in Stamford, where I started a book club for them. We all read the same book and met to discuss it. One day, two of the men told me privately that they couldn’t read, so I taught them how. I taught all the men how to write poetry.”

Fast forward to life at the Witherell, where Anne again became a volunteer. “I started a Ladies Circle Group where other residents can meet, and talk, and share their experiences. It’s wonderful” she explains. “I refer to us as The Golden Girls!  You know, there are so many gifts in life we ignore or don’t see. When I see Witherell volunteers working so hard here, I want to thank them so much, as I too know the joys of volunteering.  We get back more than we give.”


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