POUND RIDGE, N.Y. – Pound Ridge’s Felice Joaquim found her hands idle after she retired from her job for a Stamford company in 1995. So she took over the town’s senior assistance program, Neighbor to Neighbor , in 1996 and is as busy now as she was before her corporate career ended.
“I was bored and needed something to do,’’ Joaquim said. “Luckily, my friend Lucille Corda was elected Supervisor of Pound Ridge and asked me if I wanted to take over the program and of course I said yes.”
Joaquim is now the coordinator of N2N, a community based volunteer organization that works in conjunction with the town’s recreation and police departments. The organization provides transportation to seniors for medical appointments and food shopping, delivers hot meals and can even cook for homebound seniors. The group also offers social events and any other assistance the town’s seniors may need.
“Without our awesome volunteers, we could not have succeeded in becoming what we are today,’’ Joaquim said. “We’re a highly successful senior program popular with both our seniors and our volunteers, and one envied by towns that have no senior programs.”
Joaquim said the group was started in the 1980s by resident Bobbi Gray, Cynthia Rigas, the recreation department and volunteers of the Pound Ridge Community Church. While the mission has not changed significantly, its popularity has since Joaquim came on board.
“I organized a monthly meeting consisting of 12 seniors to discuss programs and other issues,’’ she said. “We cooked casseroles for the lunches, and charged $3 for the meal. We only had about six seniors plus the volunteers attend the meeting. Today we have about 85 seniors attending our lunches at Conant Hall and it has become our most successful and fun-loving event, all at no charge.”
There have been other successes, too. She helped create the “Are you OK?” program along with her son, Dan Bathrick. A computer-generated program calls seniors who desire the service at a fixed time each day. If the senior answers the phone, the computer recognizes that the senior is OK. If not, police will be alerted and will visit the home.
At Joaquim’s insistence, the town leased a van to transport seniors to Wednesday shopping excursions at Scotts Corner. In 2010, N2N installed a shed at the town park to store medical equipment. The shed is now overflowing with wheelchairs and walkers, which seniors can borrow as needed.
Joaquim says the group has also saved several lives. In 2000, a blind, disabled senior fell at her home and was unable to move. She was alone for more than three days. When volunteer Paulina Margolis tried unsuccessfully to reach the resident by telephone, she visited the house. Margolis could not hear the woman yelling to her, but when she did not answer, Margolis phoned the police, who rescued the woman.
“They say that if you save a person’s life, you will be responsible for them during their lifetime,’’ Joaquim said. “From that day forward our volunteers visited the woman, shopped for her, found someone to do her laundry and anything else necessary to keep her safe at home.”
Joaquim has been honored by several groups including induction into the Westchester County Senior Citizen Hall of Fame in 2005, and was the Pound Ridge Lions Club Citizen of the Year in 2002.
“The rural life we love is not always easy for a senior who can’t drive and therefore can’t get needed services,’’ Joaquim said. “Our residents realized our seniors needed help. We’ve all come together to help them out.”