Community Services Director Retiring

After 30 years of looking after the welfare of the residents in town Community Services Director Carol Nardini is retiring. Her official date of retirement is Sept. 3.{{more}}

Nardini said she has felt privileged to work in Orange. She said she was one of a 100 applicants when she applied for the position.

“I was blessed to be picked,” Nardini said.

“We have been able to offer services parallel to what the community needs. As the needs of our residents have increased so have the services,” she said.

A few of the many changes that have been implemented under Nardini’s stewardship include the Outreach Worker going from part-time to full-time, and moving parenting classes from the classroom to online.

Nardini said a highlight of her career was the deparment being able to offer seniors a warm meal.

“In 1985, the department received funding for its elderly nutrition program. This allowed us to offer lunches to anyone 60 or older. We’re still doing that,” she said.

When she first started, the department would see about 12 to 20 seniors for lunch.

“We easily see 100 on a daily basis for lunch these days,” she said.

The day she started Aug 1, 1983, the department began contracting with Bridges for family counseling services, their staff went on strike.

That same year the department moved from Mary L Tracy School to High Plains Community Center.

“I will never forget the family member who came in and said her brother was dying with HIV and they needed funds to cover his insurance. He lived a few short months. We paid for that through donations,” Nardini said.

Nardini said she has enjoyed working in a small environment. She said it allows everyone to be aware of what is taking place throughout the department.

“I have gone out with the police department and removed people from their homes (because of poor living conditions.) A director of this department does that if the staff is unavailable,” she said.

“This job isn’t just supervising and signing papers. I have always felt I would not ask my staff to do something I wouldn’t do,” Nardini said.

Nardini said the person who replaces her will need to be someone who wants to be involved in the day to day operations of the department.

While a successor is beingchosen Elderly Services Coordinator Dennis Marsh will serve as interim director. Nardini said his job description has that position overseeing the department in her absence.

Nardini said the community services department has become part of the fabric of the town and its houses of worship.

An example of that is the Shepherds Café.

“Because of cuts last year to the elderly nutrition program from the state we had to cut a day out of senior lunches,” Nardini said.

The Rev. Ann Ritonia, Church of the Church of the Good Shepherd stepped up and now offers lunch on Wednesday’s. Shepherds Café sees about 60 people each week for lunch. Community Services provides transportation for many to and from lunch.

Nardini said the department has developed a strong relationship with its mental health provider. Many of those services are provided in town at the Clark Building.

“When I first came to Milford in 1984 as the Executive Director of the Milford Mental Health Clinic Carol Nardini reached out to me very quickly. I was immediately struck by her commitment to serving Orange residents from all walks of life with an emphasis on making sure that those most in need had access to social and mental health services,” Kasden said.

“Carol has been an outstanding professional. In the true tradition of her Social Work discipline, she recognized that people at all levels of life, from all demographics….young and old would need a wide range of human services that should be available in their local community. She was the ultimate collaborator, advocate, and innovator who used her social work skills to address the human service needs of Orange residents. Carol nurtured and grew a human services system that the Town of 0range can be very proud of her. said Barry Kasden, president and CEO of Bridges, A community support system.

“Carol has always been a professional with the community service department,” First Selectman Jim Zeoli said.

“She has (greatly) advanced the department from when she started. With Orange having the highest senior population in New Haven County the demand for senior services has been strong, but she has managed to help all who came through her door,” Zeoli said.

Community Services Commissioner Peter Boppert has worked with Nardini for many years.

“She is leaving very tough shoes to fill,” Boppert said.

“She has done an excellent job. She has revamped the entire department. She brought in Joanne Byrne who took our senior services to another level and she definitely has concern for the town,” Boppert said.

Woodbridge Human Services Director Mary Ellen LaRocca has worked collaboratively with Nardini.

“I truly wish Carol many years of happiness in her retirement. Since I was the first Director of Human Services in Woodbridge and starting a new department, Carol was one of the first colleagues I contacted to inquire about programs especially since both towns were in the Regional School District,” LaRocca said.

“I always have admired her expertise in the area of social services. I congratulate Carol on all that she has accomplished in Orange and am truly grateful to have had an opportunity to know and collaborate with Carol for the past 25 years. She truly will be missed,” LaRocca said.

Nardini said there have been disappointment in her career.

I would have loved to do a communitywide needs assessment similar to what was done in New Haven. Everyone (in town) would have a voice. Then we would have had a map of what our needs were,” she said.

She would also have liked to develop an adult daycare program.

“We would be able to better serve our older population,” she said.

Nardidn said the lunch program shows there is a need for the these types of services for the older population in town.

The first thing she is doing after retiring is to go to Ghost Ranch in New Mexico to reflect on her retirement.

According to its website “Ghost Ranch is an interfaith education and retreat center of the Presbyterian Church.”

She also will be taking a volunteer appointment on the New Haven Transit Board as a representative for the City, and she plans to offer her expertise to the Agency on Aging working with seniors in choosing insurance.

Nardini said she is looking forward to her retirement years spending time with family and friends and finding more time for her other hobby – cycling.

A retirement dinner is planned for Aug. 26. Contact Kim Callahan for additional info 891-4788.

Best of luck Carol!