Why I Volunteer at The Towers

by Linda Cedarbaum

It all started with hamentashen. My husband and I moved to Connecticut 9 years ago. I’d been baking hamentashen for the local Jewish elder residences in my community since my children were small, first in New York and then in California. When I got to New Haven, I wondered if that kind of a donation would be welcome at The Towers. My question opened the door to a relationship with The Towers unlike any I ever had with all the other Jewish senior facilities I’d ever known.

The Towers said yes to hamentashen and to so many other ideas I’ve had as well. I discovered that this was not just any senior residence or just a place to live. The Towers is, in fact, a real neighborhood. I love that it is full of character. From the administration to the residents there is an eagerness to be involved in the world, and involve the world in The Towers.

I’ve joined committees, attended events and I eventually joined the Board of Directors. When my mother needed to move to a senior living community there was no question about it, this was the right neighborhood for her. She relocated from across the country to come to The Towers. Personally, the best part of my volunteering is knowing that I am giving others the opportunity to get involved. One of the most gratifying activities I have had the privilege of initiating with The Towers is the Horticulture Floral Design Program, which we launched over 6 years ago. The best part for me is seeing how the program enables other volunteers from the outer community (as well as some volunteers who reside at The Towers) to engage with residents and share pure joy. Every time we have this program, I am reminded that volunteering is truly a mutual exchange. Whatever one puts into it, one gets so much more out of it for themselves.

Truthfully, I am a little embarrassed when I am thanked for doing anything for The Towers because I have gotten much more than I could give. The Towers, for me, is not simply a focus of tzedakah. The Towers is an anchor for my sense of the greater New Haven Jewish community. A community is measured in part by how it welcomes volunteers into its midst and offers purpose to everyone’s life who it touches.

The Towers has given me a sense of pride, of community, of hope, of belonging, of purpose, of opportunity to fulfill and actualize values, and of gratitude for being part of this meaningful enterprise which we volunteers build and sustain.

At the end of the day, volunteering at The Towers, in a program, event, project, activity, task force or committee, is what makes this house into a home. Being a volunteer here is what makes this place into the core of our greater community. It’s been a sweet experience for me, tasty as hamentashen, and just as special.