Volunteer Mary Ellen Baldwin: It’s All About Family

As a mother of five, Mary Ellen Baldwin knows what it takes to build a strong family, and for close to 45 years, her compassion, kindness and motherly love have nurtured the Noble Horizons family. Mary Ellen first joined the Noble in 1977 and fortunately for the many whose lives she continues to touch, her deep commitment to others endures.

Mary Ellen and her husband were new parents when they moved to Salisbury, and nursing’s 24-hour cycle allowed her to spend time with their family while also caring for others. “I worked private duty at first, moving to part-time in the evenings in Whitridge where I spent 15 happy years. That was my favorite place to work,” she reminisces, “We had a great team and worked well together. Being able to take care of those residents who needed a high level of attention was so gratifying. It was just a loving feeling to work with the people who needed us the most.”

Moving to the day shift when her children were older, she nursed throughout Noble, wherever she was needed most. By the time she retired in 2015, she had built relationships across the Noble community. “Even today, I see families whose parents I took care of. They remember me as part of the nursing team and they are still grateful. It’s such a wonderful feeling.”

Mary Ellen’s parents followed her to Salisbury from Long Island and eventually lived in one of the Noble cottages. “My kids grew up in and around Noble, visiting their grandparents. They were very much part of my parents’ life at Noble.” When her mother developed Alzheimer’s, she transitioned to memory care in Whitridge. “I was one of her nurses during that time. It was so special for me to be involved in her care when she needed me the most.”

After retirement, which is a relative term for Mary Ellen, she has stayed active in the Noble community. Once a month she serves as the dental assistant for Dr. Decker, DDS when she performs routine dental checks on residents.

For many years, Mary Ellen has volunteered in Noble’s St. Luke’s Chapel every Wednesday when she helps residents attend the Catholic mass. Once a month she also leads worship and serves communion. Being able to participate in the service is an honor for Mary Ellen and deeply nourishing for her and the residents. “This inner life is so important for residents. It’s not about which faith or if someone has a religion, it’s about spirituality, helping people cultivate their inner spiritual being. They’re at a point in life where they’re thinking about big questions. I want to help them with that. Assisting with church service was something my father did as a Noble volunteer. I guess I inherited it from him.”

“Noble is a second home for me. Not being able to reach out and see the residents during this time has been really difficult. There’s such a sense of community and family feeling there,” she reflects, “That element of physical touch and presence is so important, it helps people relax and feel connected.”

Mary Ellen is a cancer survivor and is active in the annual Salisbury Visiting Nurse Association’s Cancer Survivor Celebration, which she helps plan each year. She also lends support to other cancer victims--reaching out, letting them know they’re not alone, and offering help.

Their five children and five grandchildren live locally and keep Mary Ellen and her husband Jerry involved and on their toes. She feels fortunate to have all her family around her to help and support--and that includes her Noble family where she feels just as needed and appreciated.

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Jerry Baldwin is known to many throughout Connecticut’s northwest corner as a Rotarian, a banker, a father of five and a grandfather of many, a devoted community volunteer and avid golfer, but his years as a military man 55 years ago remain at his core. “The discipline factor when I finished the military was totally focused on doing well and I have always been proud to have served.”

Adam Zies-Way wanted to serve in the military since he was a child. Growing up, he was inspired by the stories about both his grandfathers’ service in World War II--one at Pearl Harbor and the other during the Berlin Airlift.

Michelle Hansen grew up in the Falls Village Fire Department. Her father served as chief and her mother was active in the Ladies Auxiliary. Like smoke from a fire, the experience permeated her. As an adult also joined the Auxiliary but in time wanted to serve in another way.

May 17-23 is National EMS (Emergency Medical Services) week and this Monday is Memorial Day, one of the most revered dates on our calendar. Noble Horizons recognizes and thanks the exceptional heroes who honor and serve our nation and local communities.