Volunteer Makes Mouths Water At Plymouth, MA Nursing Home

Francine, right, cooks a staff breakfast and leads a game session for residents every Friday.
Fridays are special at Plymouth Rehabilitation and Health Care Center in Massachusetts.
That’s when former assistant teacher Francine Fahey returns to cook breakfast with the pediatric residents, who are wheelchair bound and have severe neurological impairments.

Francine whips up waffles and pancakes, egg dishes and paninis – anything that doesn’t require an oven— in one of the classrooms.  She shops and donates all the ingredients.
“I always liked to cook, and when I worked here the kids responded well to a similar activity,” said Francine, who retired 12 years ago.  “A few years ago when I found myself with extra time on my hands I volunteered to return.”

The six residential students observe preparations and inhale the heavenly aromas, said Education Director Linda White.  There is much vocalizing and smiling, and even those kids who struggle with muscle control manage to hold their heads high when Francine is cooking.
Staff members vie to reserve a spot at the table and pay for the privilege. (The residents can’t swallow whole food for the most part.)

Proceeds from the meals fund the annual Halloween field trip to the Roger Williams Zoo in Providence, RI.

The fun doesn’t end with the meal, though.  Afterwards staffers pair up with the kids to play games like Jeopardy and Trivial Pursuit, helping them work switches to respond to questions. The residents Francine worked with a decade ago are now in day programs for young adults over 22, or community group homes, so she doesn’t see them much, but she enjoys her mornings with the younger students.

In her free time Francine also volunteers at a food pantry and is passionate about making her own greeting cards.