Connect to...A Recipe for Laughter

Engage volunteers Ellen Hochstein, Barbara Willinger, Joyce Fleming and Barbara Ornstein.

Engage volunteers Ellen Hochstein, Barbara Willinger, Joyce Fleming and Barbara Ornstein.

“It was fun interacting with everyone, laughing,” recalls Barbara Ornstein, a retired teacher. “I felt good about it. It was a mitzvah,” remembers Joyce Fleming, a former physical education and health teacher. Barbara and Joyce were speaking about the holiday party on December 17, 2015, at which Engage participants, in partnership with the Goddard Riverside Community Center, prepared and served dinner for residents of three cooperatives known as the Westside NORC. This group of co-ops is a naturally occurring high-density retirement community, where people are aging in places they have lived for years and a staff from Goddard provide services for them.

For the party, Barbara Ornstein cooked meatballs in the JCC culinary studio. The next night, she was delighted when some of the diners told her how much they loved them. It was clinical social worker Barbara Willinger's first time in the JCC culinary studio.  She participated in the cooking and setup the following day. “It was wonderful,” she says.  Amy Epstein, who had a career in architecture and urban design and now runs a company specializing in artisanal decorative objects, discovered another of her creative sides when she prepared a vegetarian lasagna for the party. It turned out so well she added the recipe to her collection.

“It was a lovely event,” Kaitlin Nelson, Goddard program director, recalls. “The volunteers were going around meeting the Goddard residents–everyone wanted to talk. You could see people smiling. And the next day, some of the residents stopped me on the street to talk about how much they enjoyed it,” Nelson continues. For Ellen Hochstein, a volunteer whose career had been in human resources, it was “a very nice party, good people, good spirit.”