John Cerrone, Sarah Porco, Bob Fossity

Gardens Grow with Teamwork

Regional Hospice Garden Clean Up 2016Success often comes from collaboration. That is certainly the case for Regional Hospice and Home Care’s beautiful Center for Comfort Care & Healing, and it is true for our gardens too. Now in our second spring, we are beginning to see new plants emerge, just as our team of volunteer gardeners is also starting to grow. This group will be tending to our grounds, filling them with flowers, vegetables and herbs, making them feel like an oasis for our patients and their families.

Our Master Gardener

Leading the charge is Master Gardener, Bob Fossity, a humble and gracious green thumb who seems to bristle at the term “Master,” believing that he still has so much to learn. Regardless, Bob has earned the title after completing advanced training with the UCONN Extension Master Gardener Program in 2015.

Bob FossityAlways A Gardener at Heart

Of course advanced training is always a bonus to one’s skills, but what Bob brings to his volunteer role overseeing RHHC’s gardens is more from the heart than the head. Raised in Pennsylvania, Bob learned gardening from his father. He jokes that there was a running competition in his neighborhood as to who would have the first ripe tomato. When his father started to slow down due to age, Bob felt responsible for keeping up with the tradition. In addition, gardening became a pleasant escape from his busy professional life.

A Passion for Gardening; An Understanding of Hospice

Fossity worked as an IT Project Manager with IBM for 32 years before retiring in 2010. At that point he finally had time to pursue his love of the land. Bob volunteers with several other charities in grounds management and more, but he seems to have a special connection with the Center for Comfort Care & Healing as he knows well what hospice can do. After his father passed away in March 2015 following a brief stay in a hospice facility in Pennsylvania, he recalls, “Our family really appreciated everything hospice did for us. There was so much support.”

Support in Many Forms

John Cerrone, Sarah Porco, Bob Fossity

(L to R:) John Cerrone, Sarah Porco, Bob Fossity

Support is something that Fossity has found at RHHC as well. He explained that oftentimes when he is working in the Center’s garden he is approached by visitors or staff who thank him for his work. He says, “It is such a beautiful facility. I really enjoy my time here.” He shares of a family member of a former patient who planted flowers in the center island of the parking lot last fall. “There are just so many nice volunteers,” Fossity stressed.

He also gave special accolades to the two high school students, John Cerrone and Sarah Porco, who interned with him last summer. “They were the hardest working, most dedicated kids,” he said. They never complained as the three worked tirelessly to maintain the gardens through the fall. Likewise, volunteer gardeners from PepsiCo and Trader Joe’s have assisted Bob on corporate giving days, for which he is especially grateful. “We had a lot of laughs and accomplished so much,” he explained.

A New Organic Garden

This year Bob has a burgeoning new team of approximately 7 volunteers. The additional hands are welcome in planning and maintaining a new organic herb and vegetable garden that can be used in making nourishing, fresh meals for patients. RHHC’s Chef Aaron Swart is working with Bob to determine what produce will be grown in the 112 square feet of raised beds that were built as part of an Eagle Scout project completed last winter by Ridgefield local Josh Kim. In addition, Trader Joe’s Danbury and Westport have donated a bounty of herbs to get the beds started.

Nash Simcoe and Lew Morgan

Nash Simcoe from Trader Joes Westport and Lew Morgan from Trader Joe’s Danbury with donated herbs.

Just another shining example of how much teamwork goes into making the Center for Comfort Care & Healing such a welcoming, homey place – a place where Bob Fossity is happy to share his gifts and passions; a place where all patients, visitors and staff are blessed to reap the beauty of those efforts.