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Greenwich Teen Spruces Up The Nathaniel Witherell To Earn Eagle Scout

Joe Schiro and volunteers cleared out invasive vines in the Witherell parking lot.
Joe Schiro and volunteers cleared out invasive vines in the Witherell parking lot. Photo Credit: Contributed

GREENWICH, Conn. — Visitors to The Nathaniel Witherell in Greenwich may have noticed the new bulletin boards on each of the skilled nursing care units in the Tower — but they might be surprised to find out who made the improvements.

The man behind the work is recent Greenwich High School graduate Joe Schiro, who worked for months to design and fabricate the four bulletin boards as part of his Eagle Scout Service Project for the Boy Scouts.

Schiro has been volunteering at the Witherell since he was a high school sophomore, coming in on weekend mornings to help out wherever needed, whether it be transporting residents and short-term rehab patients to physical therapy or lending a helping hand during chapel services and music programs.

When it came time for him to choose his Eagle Scout Service Project, designed to demonstrate leadership ability while performing a project to benefit the community, he immediately thought of the Witherell.

"For me, personally, I wanted to give back to the Witherell. I've been there for a couple years and really wanted to do something to help them out," says Schiro.

It was one year ago that Schiro first asked Sally Van Leeuwen, Witherell's Volunteer Coordinator, if she had any ideas for a project. She told him that the bulletin boards were in poor shape, and the Witherell could benefit from new ones.

Those boards contain all kinds of information of importance to residents and their families – events, birthday lists, menu items – and they constantly change. With that, Schiro had his marching orders and set to work.

For months he researched the best materials for the job and then identified sources to donate the supplies. At the end of July, he arrived at the Witherell with a team of Scouts and Scout Leaders — and some hefty power tools — to put the final touches on the bulletin boards and install them.

The new boards are bright white with a magnetic background and an attractive frame.

Schiro had metal signs made that identify each element that typically goes on the boards, and added plastic sleeves to make sliding in and out the information sheets much easier.

"This is a project that we will all appreciate and benefit from, and it will last for many years to come – all markers of a successful Eagle Scout project," says Van Leeuwen. "And if that weren't enough, Joe and his crew came back a week later to clear the far side of our employee parking lot of invasive vines."

Schiro's Eagle Project was the culmination of his Scout leadership training and a requirement to attain the Eagle Scout Rank.

"I've worked on a lot of Eagle Scout projects before, but as someone helping out and following orders. This time I was the one in charge. I feel a sense of extreme accomplishment because this time I was the one leading the project and directing the other Scouts," says Schiro. "I'm really glad I could do this for the Witherell."

Van Leeuwen says teenagers are welcome to volunteer at the Witherell. This past summer, there were more than two-dozen teens who donated their time to help with the summer barbeques, therapy transport, staffing the gift shop, watering plants, working with the recreation staff, bringing in dogs for pet therapy, and more.

And it's not just summertime. Teenagers are a regular presence at the Witherell throughout the year, with flexible afternoon and weekend volunteer options available.

For more information on volunteering, contact Sally Van Leeuwen at 203-618-4228 or sallyvanl@live.com.

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