NORTHBRIDGE, Mass. – The ice cream social honoring more than 80 Senior Center volunteers was a bittersweet event for Senior Center Director Gail Anderson. Retiring at the end of this month, it will be her last.
It’s a program that began shortly after she became director 25 years ago. She wasn’t in the position long before she understood the value, and the necessity, of volunteers. From the Tri-Valley Elder Services volunteers who serve meals at the Center and deliver Meals on Wheels to the homebound, to Senior Center volunteers who drive seniors to grocery stores and medical appointments, the Center could not function without them.
Volunteers kept the Senior Center open shortly after she became its director and faced a year of a zero budget. “I remember sitting at my desk, watching seniors embark from the bus, and all I could think of was ‘what would they do if the Senior Center closes,’’’ she said.
That worry was short-lived because of volunteers. “You and those who came before you came to the rescue,’’ she said. Volunteers conducted fund raisers and donated what they could. “Will this help?’’ they’d ask, “pulling money out of their own pocket,’’ Anderson remembered. “The Friends of Northbridge Elders (FINE), the Council on Aging and volunteers worked together to keep the center open and we survived,’’ she continued.
“You, the volunteers, are what keep the center open. We could not do it without you.’’
She also thanked her staff, all of whom go the extra mile. “There are no clock watchers on this staff,’’ she said. They stay until the job is done and come in on their days off as well.
“I hope town citizens are aware of how much you do for the town, from the heart, at no cost,’’ she said.
Of special note was the certificate of appreciation presented by Anderson to Kelly Bol, who was appointed earlier this week as Senior Center director and will replace Anderson at the end of the month.
One volunteer – Ted Haringa - was singled out as the Center’s 24th “Volunteer of the Year.’’
Choosing one person is a difficult decision and one that isn’t done quickly, Anderson said. Haringa stood out, volunteering for more than 15 years at the Senior Center and Tri-Valley Elder Services. He is currently president of the Council on Aging.
Haringa said he was “overwhelmed’’ by the honor which he said belongs with all the volunteers who help make the Center such a welcoming and loving place. It’s sort of like family,’’ he said, “and I am thankful to be a part of that.’’
Echoing Anderson’s statement, Haringa said, “Whatever is accomplished here is accomplished by what everyone does together.’’
Other volunteers honored at the social with certificates of recognition were: Alternatives Unlimited clients, Mary Alex, Len Allegra, Pat Allegra, Pattie Avery, Marie Therese Arsenault, Mable Baker, Sue Bateman, Stella Bokoski, Kelly Bol, Fern Bonduc, Carl Boudreau, Ernie Boudreau, Ruth Boudreau, Willie Boulanger, Marcelle Boule, Pamela Brooks, Lorraine Brouillard, Barbarajean Calnan, Jessica Castle, Jim Carse, Lorraine Courteau, Ann Crosby and Eleanor Dafiotis.
Also, Bill Dalrymple, Nancy Dalrymple, Evelyn Decoteau, Ted Decoteau, Wayne DeForest, Bob Demars, Bill Deroy, Katherine Desjardins, Jeannine Dionne, Phyllis DiPalma, Bryan Dudley, Connie Duquette, Lee Duquette, Jim Gallagher, Joyce Gallagher, Cora Gauthier, Adele Gentry and Donald Gould.
Also, Ken Guhman, Ken Guertin, Ted Haringa, Ralph Helstrom, Terry Hetu, Henrietta Hoogendyk, Horace Mann Educational Associate clients, Joan Jeffers, Shirley Kacmarcik, Robin Kidd, Sid Koopman, Fred Kruezinger, Colleen Labelle, Donna Lannon, Sandra Lowther, Cecile Malo, Gay McCrae, Burnie Miller and Lois Miller.
Also, Joe Montevalco, Beverly Morrissette, Pat Morrissette, Marion Murray, Jane Nicholson, Sharon O’Brien, Gerry Oppewall, Michael Potaski, Adele Priest, Marie Rebecchi, Mary Rice, Joyce Romeiro, Dottie Salmon, Jacoba Schotanus, Winnie Sears, Al Siepert, Marie Siepert, Doris St. Martin, Peg Stevens, Carole Sweeney, Ellie VanHouten, Pat Wallen, and Lucille Whitney.