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Blog Feature

By: Marissa Salvesen on October 20th, 2015

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Growing Old and Giving Back

Stories and Spotlights

jeanette-photo2-minMeet Jeannette Dermody! Jeannette has lived at one of our most award-winning UMH communities for over five years. Before moving to Crosby Commons Assisted and Independent Living Community, Jeannette worked as a school crossing guard for over 35 years. She remained active in her local community, serving others and connecting with younger generations – both of which she continues to do now even at 99 years old!

Jeannette was born in Millbury, Massachusetts and grew up as the middle child in a family of five children, with two older sisters and a younger brother and sister. She admits she had a happy childhood and described her schoolhouse as a small building with one teacher and six rows of children in various grades. Although she attended school for several years, Jeannette did not get the opportunity to attend college. Unfortunately, at that time, she was needed at home to care for her mother, who was battling an illness.

In 1954, Jeannette moved to Connecticut after marrying her husband, who got a job at AVCO Lycoming in Stratford. She enjoyed life as a housewife for many years and then began a career of her own, working as a crossing guard for local elementary schools in Milford. Jeannette enjoyed every minute of her job as a crossing guard, and especially loved seeing the younger children during the school year. After over 35 years of keeping schoolchildren safe as they crossed the street, Jeannette finally retired from her job as a crossing guard. She still misses seeing the happy faces of the children each day.

Another one of Jeannette’s favorite memories is her trip to Canada, which she took on a train from New York City. She enjoyed traveling and fondly remembers her trips to locations like California and Hawaii. In addition to traveling, Jeannette enjoys spending time with her family, which is now a very large, growing family of her own two children, her six grandchildren, her nine great-grandchildren, and her two great-great-grandchildren!

Life at Crosby Commons is never boring for Jeannette. She enjoys doing puzzles and knitting, and volunteering within the community. Her favorite games include horse-racing (and betting!) and playing cards. Pinochle is one of the games she plays regularly. “We are always looking for more players!” she says.

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When it comes to volunteering, Jeannette Dermody inspires the entire community of Crosby Commons with her commitment to making a difference in the lives of others. She strongly believes in the importance of socialization, staying active, and strengthening relationships between all generations. When she is not knitting prayers shawls for Hospice patients, delivering cards to veterans, leading a rosary group, or assembling gift bags for the children’s hospital, Jeannette spends her time with others in our communities. Through her service on our Welcoming Committee, she makes every resident feel truly at home and assists them through the move-in process with warmth and grace. Happily advocating for all of our resident activities, Jeannette encourages learning and growing by teaching pinochle and Rummikub to residents looking for a new hobby. Never considering herself “too old to party,” Jeannette delights us with her charm at our special events, dressing as the Easter Bunny for our annual egg hunt and as Santa Claus for a holiday children’s visit.

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Every year Jeannette attends our annual 5K Road Race…dressed as a clown! She is our number one cheerleader, distributing medals and ribbons to participants and sharing her joy for life and infectious enthusiasm with children and adults alike. Her humility, gratitude, and passion for life tell the story of one who has aged well, reminding us that growing old doesn’t have to mean giving up or giving in, but rather for Jeannette, it can mean giving back. For these reasons and more, she was honored in 2013 by the Connecticut Assisted Living Association (CALA) with the Distinguished Resident Accomplishment Award. We are so proud of her!

When asked to offer a few words of wisdom that come from aging well, Jeannette shared, “Always do your best – and get the best education possible.” We think that advice is worth considering, especially from someone with 99 years of life experience. Thank you, Jeannette!

Jeannette Dermody was interviewed by volunteers Christina Marino and Julie Hoff. Both girls are part of Girl Scout Troop 86, of Shelton, Connecticut, and are participating in our “Resident Spotlight” project as part of their Girl Scout community project. They are currently working to earn their Silver Award. Many thanks to Christina and Julie for being part of this great project!

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About Marissa Salvesen

My journey into the world of senior living began when I started working for United Methodist Homes in 2010. Starting as an Activities Director at one of our-winning assisted and independent living communities and then transitioning to Marketing and Promotions Manager for UMH, I now work as the Manager of Mission Development, fostering the Mission and Values of our organization. I love sharing stories about the many ways we build meaningful relationships and enrich the lives of those we serve, and am proud to be part of building UMH’s 140-year legacy of caring. Wondering what makes our communities such special places to live and work? Connect with me and find out!

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