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World Traveler Finds Home at Hospital

Doris Leonard will be the welcoming face you see at the information desk if you walk into Greenwich Hospital on a Tuesday afternoon. She may be answering phones, giving directions or speaking to someone in one of the five languages she speaks. And after 20 years of volunteering, Leonard still loves what she does.

"I started volunteering at the hospital on April Fools Day in 1990," she said. "That is how I remember the date. I thought I'd be fooling myself, but here I am."

Leonard was born in Philadelphia and grew up in Brazil, which sparked her love of travel. She spent her college years in the States and met her late husband on a ship sailing to Brazil.

"My husband and I only spent two years in the United States together," she said. Leonard lived overseas with her husband for most of their married lives. The couple and their two children lived in Belgium, Portugal, Germany, England, Singapore and Japan, which is how she learned to speak five languages. "Every country we lived in was wonderful," she said. "I did a lot of traveling, and it was great. In those days, people dressed up to go on a plane and travel was easy."

She has made a number of friends and acquaintances over the years at the hospital. "There are people that come in every day for treatments, people visiting patients or just sitting and reading a book in the lobby."

Leonard and a number of other volunteers look forward to their "social hour" at the hospital cafeteria. "Starting around 5:30 p.m., a group of seniors have a special table which becomes their social hour," she said. "Everyone [at the hospital] knows where we congregate. It is a great service for people."

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