JACKSON – Members, friends and supporters of Adopt-A-Senior recently gathered for their big annual fundraiser of the season.
The event was “wonderful and everyone had a great time. We had over 100 raffle baskets and all the proceeds from the event will help us continue our mission of ensuring that ‘Seniors Should Never Be Forgotten,’” organization founder and leader Annye Cohen said.
She added, “we honored our 2022 Frank Mesto Volunteer of the Year, Victoria Marino from Freehold. She has been volunteering with us for the past six years and is now heading off to West Chester University in the Fall to become a nurse. She was joined by her parents Rob and Marisa Marino.”
“We also honored Joan Jetter from Plainview, New York, a longtime friend of Adopt A Senior for her continued support of our organization. She had her two sons there and other family members, to cheer her on,” Cohen said. “Some of the attendees were from Bartley Healthcare, in Jackson and Sunrise in Shrewsbury and CareOne of East Brunswick.”
Co-founder and treasurer Bill Cowen was looking festive in a bunny ears hat during the event and was busy helping with the fundraiser. “I have known Annye for many years. Throughout our friendship, we worked on a few different causes but the one we both enjoyed the most was working with the seniors living in long-term care facilities.”
“Getting to know a little bit about each of the seniors is so rewarding. So many do not have visitors, so when someone acknowledges them, they get very excited, and they are happy to engage in conversation. They feel special but honestly it is us who they make feel special,” Cowen said.
“We did not want our purpose to just be to visit a senior and give a gift,” he said. “We wanted it to be special. So, for the holidays, we ask the seniors to fill out a ‘Wish List’ similar to the way a child would write a letter to Santa. We then do our best to ensure each senior receives the item or items they ask for. The same goes for their birthdays. We want them to receive something special. It is always wonderful when they open their gift and smile and say, ‘How did you know I wanted this?’”
They also make the presentation of the present something special. They will wear festive clothes for holidays. For birthdays, instead of singing “Happy Birthday,” they play it on kazoo, he said. “The seniors’ reactions are priceless. They get a huge grin and start to sing and clap.
“There is nothing more special then when one of the seniors hands you a picture and says ‘I did this for you.’ I have been blessed to get quite a few of these over the past few years and many are on display in my home. We try to bring awareness to the public about seniors in these facilities. Unless you have someone in a long-term care facility, you probably do not know what it is like,” he added.
Robert Tretter has been an AAS volunteer since 2014. He flew in from Cincinnati where he lives to help with the fundraiser. “I met Annye in 2011 when I was running a different fundraiser with my brother. The experiences with Adopt-A-Senior have been humbling and rewarding. I’ve met seniors who were in Nazi war camps and Silver Star recipients.
“There is nothing so humbling as having a person cry because you paid attention to them and gave them a small gift. I was the emcee of the event and also helped stuff goodie bags and Easter eggs for prize gifts, two days prior to the event,” Tretter said.
How To Help
They offer the opportunity for the public to personally “Adopt” a senior, especially at the holidays. People are given “Wish Lists” and they go out by themselves or with their families to buy the gifts, then wrap them and also put a personal card with it.
If you are interested in helping this group, visit Adopt-A-Senior.org or call them at 347-365-0633.