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Greenwich-Based Abilis Dishes Up Thanksgiving Dinner For Clients, Staff

Amy Montimurro, standing center, Chief Program Officer at Abilis with from left clients: Frances Contardi, Ellen Vant and Ruthanne Crandall. Standing at right is Marjorie Beauchette, supervising counsellor with Abilis.
Amy Montimurro, standing center, Chief Program Officer at Abilis with from left clients: Frances Contardi, Ellen Vant and Ruthanne Crandall. Standing at right is Marjorie Beauchette, supervising counsellor with Abilis. Photo Credit: Frank MacEachern

GREENWICH, Conn. — Frances Contardi enjoyed her Thanksgiving dinner with other Abilis clients and staff in Greenwich — although she did offer a small critique on her turkey.

"The turkey was a bit dry," she said as she finished up her plate, filled with Brussels sprouts. "I like the dinner."

She was one of about 50 clients and 20 staff members at Abilis who gathered in the Greenwich headquarters for its ninth annual Thanksgiving dinner.

Abilis is a nonprofit group that provides people with developmental disabilities and their families in Lower Fairfield County with support and advocacy services.

Amy Montimurro, chief program officer with Abilis, has overseen the Thanksgiving dinner since it began. It's a way for clients who may be alone and for the staff who work with them on Thanksgiving Day to enjoy a meal with others, she said.

"We have one or two residents who don't go to their families or are by themselves, and we wanted people to have a full table, to eat together and nobody be alone," Montimurro said. "And for the staff who work 24 hours, we want to be able to serve them on the day that they are giving up from their families."

Abilis operates 23 homes with residents and many don’t have close family nearby.

Among the staff enjoying the meal was Marjorie Beauchette of Stamford. She was working Thursday to care for Rocchina Ambrose.

She was working a 12-hour shift Thursday that would end at 10:30 p.m.

"This is my home away from home," Beauchette said. "I enjoy being here with the girls, and they all enjoy having dinner with their friends. It's really a wonderful atmosphere."

Many of the dishes are provided by the Board of Directors and volunteers at Abilis. Others in the community — including the Greenwich Police Department — also contribute.

Director of Development Nancy Heller said Abilis seeks to create a community for everyone.

"We want everybody to feel included and part of a larger community where they're celebrated, they're special and no one's alone," she said.

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