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Family honors daughter with gift to Witherell

October 2, 2018

GREENWICH — When deciding to make a donation to help their community, Greenwich residents Arthur and Sally Rosenberg had the most personal reason of all to give to The Nathaniel Witherell: Their daughter.

The Rosenberg’s daughter, Kimberly, was a college student in Alabama when a car accident left her with severe, irreparable brain damage. When the hospital in Alabama could do no more for her, she was brought back to Greenwich, first to Greenwich Hospital and then to Witherell, where she spent the last 12-and-a-half years of her life before passing away in 2001.

“When Greenwich Hospital told us they could no longer keep her, terror struck us,” Sally Rosenberg said. “Where were we going to go? Where can she be? I called all around, upstate and everywhere, and it dawned on us that Nathaniel Witherell was the answer. … They told us they would take good care of her, and I’ll tell you, beyond my dreams or prayers, our child was beautifully, beautifully cared for.”

So when the Rosenbergs wanted to give back to the community, they thought of Witherell. Their $37,000 donation funded several enhancements in the facility’s auditorium and solarium, including new furniture, a 50-inch smart TV with a surround sound system, a 90-inch TV for movie screenings, a computer lab and adjustable art easels.

A reception held Monday evening at Witherell celebrated their gift. As part of the reception, a permanent plaque was unveiled in Kimberly’s memory.

It was an emotional day for the couple, but they were happy to see their daughter memorialized.

“This is very special because she was very special,” Sally Rosenberg said. “She was only 21, a baby to us, when this happened. And the care given to her was extraordinary on every level. To see her name here, means that hopefully this will go on as long as the building is here.”

Scott Neff, executive director of the Friends of Nathaniel Witherell, called the auditorium and solarium the heart of the facility.

Neff admitted that the area had needed some “tender loving care,” and he urged the Rosenbergs to come by often to enjoy the activities. Pooches on Parade and the holiday concert by the Glenville School fifth grade choir will work perfectly in the revamped setting.

The enhancements were completed a few weeks ago, but Monday was the time for the celebration and formal dedication, which brought in more than 30 of Witherell’s board members, Friends and other supporters.

Touches like this give Witherell an edge in the highly competitive marketplace, said Larry Simon, chair of Witherell’s Board of Directors. When families look at long-term care, they are looking for excellent medical care as well as an exceptional lifestyle.

“One of the things that distinguishes Witherell from other nursing homes is that we provide a lot of activities for the people that are here,” Simon said. “It makes the whole socialization experience better. …When you’re here all the time you need something to stimulate your mind and keep you interactive. I think it’s essential. At some nursing homes, people just sit there and don’t do anything. Here people have active, stimulated lives.”

Community support for the facility is critical, Witherell’s Executive Director Allen Brown said. He praised the newest enhancements, saying they will directly benefit residents.

“When we have people in the community who want to be a part of Witherell, that makes a huge difference,” Brown said. “We have volunteers who come in and people who show their support in other ways. When we have a gift like this, it will make things better. This will provide for needed activities and it brings the community in in an important way. It makes residents feel they haven’t been isolated.”

The computer lab will enhance residents’ lives, by allowing them to conduct Skype calls with their families and connect with them via the web, Brown said. According to Carissa Ronish, Witherell’s recreation administrator, 30 activities are held a week in the area.

Community support — like that of the Rosenbergs — helps Witherell to go forward.

“A lot of people feel there is a connection to Nathaniel Witherell,” which is the last municipally owned facility of its kind in Connecticut, Simon said. “They have family members here. They’ve been here. There’s some emotional connection, and they want to see it survive and stay here so they make contributions to help us.”

During her remarks at the reception, Rosenberg offered a strong endorsement for the facility.

“Nathaniel Witherell is a jewel,” she said. “It should be preserved and taken care of because it is a vital part of this town.”

kborsuk@greenwichtime.com

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