Pictured here Volunteers Penny Buckley and Joe Scott

North Shore Elder Services Celebrates Their Volunteers

North Shore Elder Services recently thanked their many volunteers at an evening celebration. Volunteer Coordinator, Amy Bens, and a troop of North Shore Elder Services staff, magically transformed office space into a party venue for the enjoyment of all.

Sally Zavarella, Money Management Manager, paid special tribute to retiring volunteer Frank Lee for his over fifteen years of services. “When I started at North Shore Elder Services, one of the first people I met was Frank Lee.  He was a volunteer monitor in the Money Management program, which involves overseeing clients’ bank accounts to ensure their money is being spent appropriately and safely.  Bank statement monitoring is not always riveting work but Frank enjoyed it and understood the importance of his work.  No one was going to scam our clients on Frank’s watch!”

Sally had high praise for Frank’s dedication and reliability. “I don’t remember a single month that he ever missed.  Our staff likens him to the mailman; he comes no matter what.  Frank was always someone we could depend upon.”  As Frank was presented with an honorary plaque, he credited North Shore Elder Services.  “It was a pleasure working with so many great people.”

Volunteer Penny Buckley felt she was predetermined to end up at North Shore Elder Services as a volunteer. The last twenty-five years of her working life had been spent working for a Boston lawyer who dealt with estate and trust planning.  She learned a lot about elders and their needs and became very close to clients.  In the over ten years Penny has volunteered, she has done whatever needed to be done.  “I’ll do anything but toilets!”

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being here. It gives me much satisfaction.  I’m at a point in my life where it is wonderful to give back and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

Joe Scott has also been a volunteer in the Money Management program. Joe started volunteering after being laid off from a position in the finance world.  “I didn’t know what I was going to do with myself and volunteering seemed like a good way to take up some time while I was looking for a job.”  Ten years later and fully employed again, Joe is still continuing in his volunteer role.

Joe’s first assigned client was a woman named Theresa who had many physical challenges. Joe credits Theresa with putting things in perspective for him.  “She taught me a lot.”  He would meet with her every Saturday, bringing her the requested coconut donut and although he would finish the bill paying in fifteen minutes, he would sit and talk because “it was so easy and enjoyable.”

Joe has been seeing another client, Paul, for eight years now. “He is overwhelmed with paying bills as many of our Money Management clients are.  Every Christmas I get a card and he tells me I am one of his best friends.  That’s amazing.  From when Theresa made me realize life is more than just a job and Paul saying I’m his best friend, it just makes it all worth it.  We all have an opportunity to impact people’s lives.”

Lisa Orgettas, Director of Community Service, thanked the volunteers recognizing that it is not always easy working with fragile and needy clients. Sometimes to do service, a volunteer has to overcome obstacles thrown their way.  “It is indicative of your nature to work so hard and diligently at what is not easy.  Your gift of that is much appreciated.”

Executive Director Paul Lanzikos expressed his gratitude for the time that the volunteers donate to North Shore Elder Services. “We could not be doing what this agency does without you.” Paul acknowledged the many programs and areas at North Shore Elder Services where volunteers are involved.

Paul paid tribute to three men who are now deceased and were instrumental in civic and philanthropic activities to the benefit of older citizens; Tom Leonard, who served on North Shore Elder Services Board of Directors; Ben Strohecker, owner of Harbor Sweets; and Gerry Stepner, one-time treasurer of North Shore Elders’ Board of Directors and a long-time Money Management volunteer.

In closing, Paul told the volunteers that they can be confident they are making a difference and that we can believe in the endurance and generosity of the human spirit because of their work. “You don’t stand on what you say you do, you stand on what you do do.  To quote Oscar Wilde, ‘the smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intentions.’

The evening continued with food and drink and lively conversation. From all reports, it was a successful and fun-filled night of appreciation for our volunteers.

To find out more about volunteer opportunities at North Shore Elder Services, check out our website at https://nselder.org/about-our-volunteers-2/

Author Info

Jayne Girodat

Jayne Girodat is the Communications Specialist at North Shore Elder Services. Along with ten years in the position of Caregiver Support Specialist at another ASAP, Jayne was a long-distance caregiver to parents for the same amount of time. That experience serves as motivation to better understand the issues of aging and to engage people in conversations about those issues. Jayne's background in teaching contributes to her appreciation of social media as a tool to educate readers on aging concerns. "I love asking people questions. Everyone likes to be heard. When you ask and then listen, you'll find everyone has a story and some of those stories are gems. I think it is particularly important to hear the voices of our older adults. Those are the stories I really connect to and hope to bring to North Shore Elder Services' audience."

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