Volunteer Rosemary Farnsworth: Entering the World of Others

Former educator Rosemary Farnsworth does her research. Back in 2001, she and her husband, George were considering a move to a cottage at Noble Horizons. To become more familiar with the Noble community they began volunteering on campus every Sunday.

“George and I worked with a group that read plays and poems for an hour,” she recounts. Then they’d go their separate ways. He, to visit with another George and her to sew for residents who needed help mending a tear or replacing a button. For 10 years this was the routine of giving back they enjoyed together.

Just over nine years ago, they moved into their cottage and continued to enjoy book and poetry readings with neighbors and new friends made at Noble Horizons. Rosemary also discovered additional outlets for her many talents and in so doing has touched lives throughout Noble Horizons.

This past year she spearheaded the gratitude process for the Festival of Trees, writing countless thank-you notes. She works on the Holiday Fair and assists fellow volunteer Mary Barton with the fall and spring Tag Sales. She’s also served as Noble’s Library assistant, chair aerobics instructor, menu planner for the monthly cottager social gathering, and is the well-known hostess at Noble’s many art exhibit openings.

In the comfort of her cozy cottage, Rosemary describes her “why” when it comes to volunteering. Looking around her living room she explains, “It’s a nice feeling that you can do something that gives pleasure. I’m so fortunate in the way I live. I have to give back.”

Rosemary began giving back long before her relationship with Noble. “I retired early 31 years ago. When you stop working, you need to fill in the time.” And fill it she did! She and George traveled to all 50 states, staying in at least that many Elderhostels (now known as Road Scholar).

She volunteered at the Corner Food Pantry (formerly Owl’s Kitchen) for many years. She and George were ESL tutors and she served as the president of Literacy Volunteers of Northwest Connecticut. Separately and together, she and George worked with families from countries such as Poland, Russia, Hungary, Brazil, and Vietnam. One of her fond memories of that time is introducing corn on the cob to a Vietnamese family they invited to their home for dinner, “They laughed and laughed when we showed them how to eat it,” she chuckles.

Inspired by a fellow teacher, Rosemary and George worked as a team recording books for the blind. With George as her audio techie - his job was to turn the recorder on and of f- she meticulously rehearsed and read books. “It’s a very precise process. When you are recording you shouldn’t breathe -- too loudly or swallow.”

For 30 years Rosemary was vice president of the Greenwoods Scholarship Foundation in Winsted, which helps deserving students pay for college. In the late 80s and early 90s, she was president of Habitat for Humanity of Northwest Connecticut.  

Fast forward back to today and Rosemary is finding ways to help during the COVID-19 pandemic. She’s returned to sewing and is making masks for the community to keep people safe. She’s also knitting woolen caps for a local VFW Hall.

For Rosemary, being an effective volunteer means a few things, “I think you need to be someone who is not totally wrapped up in themselves, who can think about other people’s feelings and empathize with them. Sometimes you’re dealing with people whose lives can be so different. You have to be able to enter their world.” Noble Horizons and the many who benefit from her generosity are grateful that Rosemary is a part of our world.

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