Friday, June 11, 2010

Dirty Work at the Senior Center

There are days when your scribe is ashamed to be a citizen of the Town of Greenwich. Today is one of them.

For this morning Marva, one of the Town's most dedicated and hard-working employees, who for many years has prepared and served many tens of thousands of tasty home-cooked meals to the folks at the Senior Center, was summarily fired. Laurette Helmrich and Sam Deibler marched into the kitchen together and demanded her keys. She was told to put her personal effects into a cardboard box, and to leave the building and not come back.

As a Town building, the Senior/Arts Center is open to anyone and everyone during its regular hours. Marva, who also happens to hold a part-time job in the building with a private non-governmental agency, has as much right to be in the building as anyone else. Laurette and Sam's high-handed behavior is a textbook example of a lawsuit in the making.

As for Marva, she is in shock. She has worked for the Town for decades, and is only a year or so away from being eligible for her pension. Do you think something may be rotten in the Town of Greenwich, dear reader?

Marva is one of the most competent and dedicated workers this Town has ever seen. The seniors adore her. If the Senior Center were still under the purview of the Parks & Rec Department, this would never have happened.

But things changed. The Commission on Aging took it over. Laurette, who came to the Senior Center from Nathaniel Witherell, has been agitating for several years to bring in the same commercial for-profit food service company used by the nursing home, and to get rid of the independent Town of Greenwich employee Marva and her smoothly-running operation. Recently, food service executive types in fancy suits have been prowling around the Senior Center, sniffing out and scenting a new source of revenue in the offing. And sure enough: it was recently announced that they will be taking over Marva's operation on July 1.

The price of the new portion-controlled assembly-line meals will jump 33%. The quality will almost assuredly go down--how can you improve on Marva's home cooking? But Laurette and Sam will no doubt have earned the gratitude of the food service honchos for their help in landing this profitable new contract, and if the seniors get the short end of the stick, well, they're not exactly the most vocal or powerful constituency in Greenwich, are they?

It's too bad that Charles Dickens is no longer around to roast the Town of Greenwich for this despicable and rotten behavior towards Marva, not to mention the many people for whom her cooking has long been their main meal of the day. But he's not, and his type of righteous indignation is not considered fashionable in this Town these days. Probably most people in Greenwich will simply shrug their shoulders and say, so what?

But if there are any people out there who happen to believe that what happened to Marva this morning is shameful and wrong, here are the names of your neighbors who are in charge of this fiasco:


’11 Lori Jackson (Chairman) 2005 698-0158 (H)
46 Keofferam Rd.
Old Greenwich, CT 06870

’11 Catherine M. Brennan (Vice-Chairman) 2005 869-6222(H)
1 Meadow Drive 536-9576© Cos Cob, CT 06807 869-0080(O)

’10 Kristen N. Browne (Sec) 2007 203-661-0693 (H)
4 Grange St. 203-863-3206 (W)
Greenwich, CT 06830

’12 James B. Dougherty 2009 203-661-4865(H)
747 North Street 203-869-3085(W)
Greenwich, CT 06831

’10 Karen LaMonica 2004 661-0216 (H)
34 Benenson Drive 914-997-7912 ext. 750(W)
Cos Cob, CT 06807 203-536-7062 ©
914-997-0024 (F)

’12 John "Jack" Morris 2009 203-637-2143 (H)
49 Lockwood Ave. 203-253-0567 ©
Old Greenwich, CT 06870-1718

‘11 Howard "Chip" Serrell 2007 661-2498 (H)
12 River Lane 769-2542 (W)
Cos Cob, CT 06807

Staff: Samuel E. Deibler 862-6710 (O) 867-6711(Direct)
1 Mill Pond Court 862-6701 (Fax-office)
Cos Cob, CT 06807 661-9343 (H)

Chicky Krois 862-6710 (O)
862-6701 (Fax-office)

Oh, and you might consider calling or emailing the Board of Selectmen as well. Peter Tesei, Dave Theis, and Drew Marzullo can all be reached at --just click on "Board of Selectmen" at the right margin on the home page.

In a perfect world, Marva would be re-hired, and Laurette and Sam would be the ones told to put their personal belongings into a box and get out. And the greedy for-profit food service people would be told to get out and stay out. But Greenwich, Connecticut is far from a perfect world, and today it has become markedly less so.

Shame on the Town of Greenwich!


Blogger AnonymousBob said...

My condolences to Marva. I see that loyalty and service to the TOG counts for nothing the second someone higher-up in the organizational food-chain decides you're in the way of their own ambition.

Now I'm also wondering if the TOG will make this standard practice--firing workers a year before their pension eligibility--in order to get out of paying full pensions?

June 11, 2010 6:43 PM  
Blogger Bill Clark said...

Well, that's surely my impression. Use them up, squeeze them out, and then toss them onto the trash heap. What a wonderful town we live in!

June 11, 2010 6:51 PM  

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