Thursday, July 20, 2017
Monticello, NY – Ask Joseph Prisciandaro why he continues to volunteer at the Sullivan County Adult Care Center (ACC), and he doesn’t hesitate.
“They gave my ma two more years of life,” he answers with certainty.
Angelina Prisciandaro (pronounced “Pris-ee-an-darrow”) moved up from the Bronx to her son’s home in Kiamesha Lake after she developed Alzheimer’s. After taking care of her for three years, Joseph moved her into the Adult Care Center’s Unit 2, also known as the Memory Care Unit.
“It turned out to be a truly wonderful place,” he says, crediting the dedicated, caring staff in particular. “They saved my ma’s life!”
Retired from AT&T, Joseph visited her every day until her passing in January 2014. Possessed of a deeply giving heart, this Vietnam veteran wondered how he could repay those who had made her four-year stay as positive and comfortable as possible. One of those nurses, Unit Leader Kim Neves, RN, suggested he volunteer.
“That’s when a light went off in my head: I could stay with the very people who saved my ma’s life!” he recalls.
Just two months later, Joseph was back in Unit 2, spending time with the approximately 30 residents and helping out the staff wherever permitted, often showing up on Sundays with treats from “old family recipes.” Three and a half years on, he remains a vital part of that unit, talking with and encouraging Alzheimer’s-afflicted residents, walking with them to keep them mobile and prevent falls, reciting classic English poetry to them (he’s even written a book of poems) and for those who share his Christian faith, reading the Bible with them (Joseph is a parishioner of St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church in Monticello). He can also be found in other areas of the ACC, happily chatting with folks there for both long- and short-term stays.
“I address everyone as ‘aunt’ or ‘uncle,’” he shares with a quietly engaging smile. “I know all the residents.”
His dedication and aptitude for this work prompted an offer of pay, but Joseph graciously declined, instead joining the Family Council which supports the ACC and advocates for residents – another purely volunteer role.
“It is like a real profession,” he said of his five-day-a-week visits, “but God gave me a lot of money already. I don’t need more.
“Besides, they fill me up with cake and candy,” he adds with a laugh. “You can buy me cheap – just give me a Ring Ding!”
That’s exactly what the Sullivan County Legislature did today, gratefully providing him a box of Drake’s Ring Dings, along with a certificate of recognition.
“We are so very lucky to have Joseph as an ACC volunteer,” affirms District 2 Legislator and Health & Family Services Committee Chair Nadia Rajsz. “He’s perfect in that role, and both our staff and residents appreciate him more than he knows.”
“It’s about time we recognized such an extraordinary gentleman, one who served our country and continues to serve our citizens,” Legislature Chairman Luis Alvarez adds. “His presence at the ACC is something many people look forward to, for his quick wit, for his humbly helpful attitude, for his gentle support.”
“We would be lost without him,” acknowledges Neves, who appreciates every minute of his help in the Memory Care Unit. “He is very selfless.”
“The ACC staff have told me their lives – and those of their residents – would be lacking without Joe, and I can see why,” County Manager Josh Potosek observes. “He is a very special guy, and I’m delighted the Legislature chose him to be our very first ‘Citizen of the Month.’ The entire County thanks him for his selfless service.”