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Greenwich Daily Voice serves Greenwich, CT
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Volunteer Turned Her Time Into a Job

Nathaniel Witherell volunteers in Greenwich will tell you they have a gem of a volunteer coordinator. After stumbling upon an ad for volunteers, Sally Van Leeuwen didn't expect she would be getting back into the work force. "I saw an ad in the paper for a baby show at the nursing home," said Van Leeuwen. "You would bring your child and let the residents watch them play and do little activities."

From then on, the former financial analyst and avid runner, started to volunteer her time in at Nathaniel Witherell doing things from one-on-one visits to caring for resident's plants. "I wanted to do more volunteering but I wanted a place where I could take my children with me."

Van Leeuwan was a volunteer for 16 years up until 2007 when she was offered a position as volunteer coordinator. She has put a tremendous amount of energy into making the volunteer program what it is. Over the course of a year, Nathaniel Witherell sees about 300 volunteers and has people who come five days a week or once a month.

"People come and go," she said. "We have volunteers aging from 13- to 93-years-old. We'll make sure we match each person depending on their interest and availability." The nursing facility offers a number of activities for volunteers from facilitating weekly worship services, sharing musical talents and bringing a beloved furry friends.

On Van Leeuwan's off time, she is an active runner and hopes to participate in her 14th marathon this fall. She ran marathons from New York to California, although her favorite is the marathon through all five of the Disney World parks. Van Leeuwan believes its not just the skilled nursing that makes a facility, it's the recreational activities and the volunteers as well. "If people want to give their time, it's all for a good reason."

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