Elderly Services

   It has been said that a society can be judged by the way it treats its young people and its elderly citizens. Here in Branford there are many services that support the needs of our elderly population, and hundreds of volunteers who are part of the team effort.  All of these people represent a benefit to our town by saving tax dollars, boosting community spirit and finding satisfaction in their own lives.    

 “We couldn’t function without our volunteers,” says Dagmar Ridgeway, the Director of the Canoe Brook Senior Center. She estimates that approximately 80 volunteers are involved in the myriad of programs offered at the Senior Center. The list of activities is long and is constantly growing and changing in response to the needs and interest of the members. “Controlling clutter” is a new class that will be introduced in September. Regularly offered are musical programs, movies, sing-alongs, trips, hot noonday meals, bingo, billiards, puzzles, computers, arts, crafts and Spanish lessons. Volunteers share their interests and support the center’s programs in many ways, from serving meals to coaching in the computer lab.

 Canoe Brook is also the home of Branford’s Medical Transportation Service. Approximately twenty volunteers provide rides to clinics and doctors’ offices along the shoreline and in the New Haven area.  The drivers logged some 91,000 miles last year.  

   Pat Corradino, volunteer coordinator at Hospice, reports that more than 500 volunteers, a “good portion” of whom are from Branford, work along side the medical team that offers in-home and hospital care for patients with irreversible illnesses. There are many different opportunities to volunteer at Hospice. People who serve as receptionists and clerical workers receive on-the-job training while those involved in patient care attend a training program  which meets one evening a week for nine weeks.

   Conversations with several enthusiastic volunteers had similar themes.  All agree that Hospice is not a gloomy place, as a first time visitor might think, but a comfortable “upbeat” place “full of love and laughter and caring.” The joy they feel comes from having the opportunity to help individuals and families at a time when they need it most. Many volunteers have devoted more than twenty years to their work at Hospice.

   There are other volunteers at Hospice, and they walk in on all fours. Seven or eight licensed therapy dogs regularly make the rounds, sharing their own tail-wagging brand of comfort.

   “The Jewel of the Shoreline!” Those are Governor Jody Rell’s

words describing Orchard House, our regional adult day care center in Short Beach. Director Tom Romano cites with pride the work of this facility which offers a warm and comfortable environment for seniors. As an alternative to assisted living or nursing home care, Orchard House provides the opportunity for its clients to remain in their own homes and with their families as long as possible. The economic and personal benefits are enormous

   Volunteer Board members serve in decision making and fund raising activities. The “Friends of Orchard House” spend time on site to assist with special events and holiday parties. They  participate in fund raising through an autumn fair and are always a presence at their raffle booth during the Branford Festival.

  Tom Romano has a “wish list” which includes some volunteers with green thumbs to spruce up the garden for spring. As soon as weather permits he would like to have some garden “guides” to enjoy spending an hour or two strolling or sitting in the garden with his Orchard House guests.

   As with most jobs, there are usually some fringe benefits. An unexpected benefit of volunteering is that many people have established lasting friendships with their co-volunteers. Volunteering becomes a win-win-win situation, with rewards to the individual, the agency and our community.   

   New volunteers are always welcome. For information, please contact

Canoe Brook Senior Center

11 Cherry Hill Rd. 

Dagmar Ridgeway, Director, 481-3429

Transportation Coordinator, 481-3429


100 Double Beach Rd.  315-7510

Patricia Nowak Corradino, Director of Volunteer Service

 Orchard House, (East Shore Regional Adult Day Care Center)

421 Short Beach Rd.  

Tom Romano, 481-7110

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