… special friends of The Milano Senior Center
L-R Pictured in front row above are: Susan Donaher,
Evelyn Camarot and Annie Estle. Back row: Lorraine
Hanson, Florence Shea
Sixty-two helping hands, according to Milano Senior Center
Administrative Assistant and Program Coordinator Deb
Rizzo, reach out to community members on a daily basis at
The Milano Senior Center. Their assistance is welcomed by
directors, teachers and politicians.
In appreciation of their time, they were treated to a
breakfast at the Center. Speeches were given and a gift of
gratitude to the volunteers.
But what makes volunteers choose to give that helping
hand and for what reason?
Conducting interviews with some members in attendance,
the recurring theme heard many times was "family." Listed
below are their stories of what brought them to the Center.
Ellie Hooton put her time in as one of the Center's
receptionists as well as an assistant at the Flu Clinic. As to
the Center itself, she says "it's a thriving place. No matter
what the classes are, there's a diversity of people and talent
as well. It's a great social atmosphere and everyone seems
to enjoy coming." Hooton also encouraged her friend to
join many years ago.
Annie Estle, who had previously worked at The Federal
Reserve Bank had lost her husband and was wondering
what the next steps in her life would be. She followed
Hooton's advice to just try the center and be active. Estle
also volunteers as a receptionist and assistant now. She
added to the converstation that she has found the Milano
Center very enjoyable, "you get to meet everybody."
Carol McGreevy creates the Milano Center patio
Continuing her volunteering outside at the breakfast was
Carol McGreevy. As part of an Eagle Scout project and her
own interest in gardening, she was planting containers of
colorful flowers on the patio for the Center's new butterfly
McGreevy mentioned that, as a previous gardener, she had
been "missing gardening and playing in the dirt. It's always
Lorraine Hanson has been on board for four years serving
as receptionist, assisting at the Flu Clinic and, venturing
beyond the Center, she volunteers at The Melrose Wakefield
Hospital registration area. She became a volunteer after
retiring from Eastern Bank. Commenting on her busy
schedule, she said "I love volunteering! I loved volunteering
while I was working and always volunteered at hospitals.
She is a grandmother of 12 and last month, was excitedly
waiting for the announcement of the arrival of another birth
in the family.
Volunteering to offer assistance to those needing help with
their taxes at various times of the year were AARP
sponsored volunteers, Fred Alaras and Rick Mockler.
Fred Alara and Rick Mockler
Alaras related he became involved in volunteering after
leaving his job at Stop and Shop where he worked as "a
food technologist and chemist." He then decided to train at
H&R Block. "I wanted to keep myself busy following
retirement." In that he has succeeded, he not only
volunteers to help residents with their taxes but serves as a
Eucharist Minister at his church in Woburn.
At the table where Alaras sat, were others who volunteered
to help with taxes. Among them, Rick Mockler, who is
currently in charge of those who give their time regarding
this financial matter. The program is sponsored through
AARP and the IRS. As to his role, "It was about 10 years
ago doing taxes in Melrose" and other communities that
are also helped by the program are Malden, Medford,
Wakefield and Woburn.
Marie Ryan and Florence Shea
Another team of volunteers, discussed their roles and the
variety of hats they wear at the Center and beyond.
Florence Shea is also a contributor at The Melrose Mirror
keeping readers updated on trivia with her column, "Did
You Know?" She also is part of the TV Travelers, who bring
you MMTV's "Have You Been Here?" program. She arrived at
the Center following a career in banking. Her volunteering
- helping to serve lunch at least once a week
- being on the mail crew of the Center's "Looking Ahead"
- helping to guide people to the next available open spot at
the Flu Clinics
- a greeter and helping to put out snacks at the Health Fair
- guiding people to right desk at The Farmer's Market.
It was Kay McCarte, another Melrose Mirror contributor and
editor, who first brought Shea's to the Milano Center. Of
the Center and its people, she says, "you become part of a
Florence's friend, Marie Merino Ryan, finds being actively
involved in volunteering "so rewarding." Starting as a
receptionist 12 years ago, she discovered, "the most
requested thing you heard when you answered the phone
was "Do they have Bingo?" She and her sister then became
involved in calling the numbers and said "it's a big
commitment but wonderful to do."
Making an observation of those who walk throughout the
doors the first time, she says she has seen "people recently
isolated and it's so rewarding to help them out in getting
through each day. According to Marie, "the best part of
volunteering is the camaraderie and bringing smiles to
She, too, can be found in the Center's kitchen, stating that
she is always happy there and lives by the old adage, "No
matter where I serve my guests, they always like my kitchen
Her volunteering also extends beyond the walls of The
Milano Center. She also takes command as a member on
the Veteran's Services Advisory Board and is a long time
supporter of St. Mary's Church.
Agreeing with many other volunteers, Evelyn Camarot of
Saugus, who sits in at the reception desk and assists at the
Flu clinic and Melrose Wakefield Hospital, reiterated, "The
people who surround it (The Milano Center) are wonderful
and make you feel part of the family."
To the family atmosphere, Mayor Rob Dolan, who was on
hand, added his appreciation of the volunteers and the
service they provide throughout the community,
mentioning "Melrose is a city that is very connected, just
like a spider web. "We are one big Melrose family."
Representative Paul Broeder, also on hand agreed with the
Mayor and echoing the words of Dolan were Executive
Director of the Council On Aging Dawn Folopoulos and her
assistant, Deb Rizzo, applauding the time, commitment and
work of the volunteers, added "We couldn't do it without
June 3, 2016