Some say VNA stands for 'very nice association'
Charlie Seewald, 95, was tapping his toes to 1950s music and savoring the smiles and laughter.
For the past seven years, Mr. Seewald has been a New Milford Visiting Nurse Association client and April 5 he was happy to be enjoying the VNA's inaugural charity breakfast at Three Brothers Diner on Route 7.
He credits the nurses with helping him age with dignity.
"I have a pacemaker and a wonderful VNA hospice nurse -- wonderful,'' Mr. Seewald told a crowd that filled almost every seat in the restaurant.
He was introduced to the VNA when his wife, Alice, was diagnosed with pneumonia in 1993.
The couple was married for 61 years before she died on their anniversary, April 18, 1994.
Since then, the VNA has played a role in keeping Mr. Seewald healthy, with nurses regularly checking on him and helping him stay as fit as possible despite circulation and other age-related problems.
"They're why I'm still here,'' he said.
The New Milford VNA was founded as a community health agency during the influenza pandemic of 1918, said Andrea Wilson, executive director.
In its early history, VNA nurses visited one-room schoolhouses to immunize children against the deadly disease, she noted.
Since that time, the VNA's community health reach has extended to include hospice care, bereavement services for adults and children, travel vaccinations, blood pressure monitoring and cholesterol screenings, chronic disease management, Lyme disease prevention, and regular in-home health checks for those who need them.
Client Dorothea Cosentino said the agency's nurses and staff are always patient, kind and eager to make sure she gets her care.
"They have been very, very good to me,'' said Ms. Cosentino, who suggested the VNA acronym should stand for "Very Nice Association.''
Mary Schroeder said she was introduced to the VNA when her husband, Robert, died at age 54, some 25 years ago.
She joined a bereavement group and soon discovered that she was not alone.
She started doing volunteer work for the agency, from stuffing fundraising envelopes to helping with seasonal flu clinics.
"I always feel that what you give in this world you get back tenfold,'' Ms. Schroeder said. "They (VNA staff) appreciate us. I get much more from them than I ever can give."
She joked she sees her work with the VNA earning her brownie points for heaven.
"Because I can't stand the heat,'' Ms. Schroeder said to a roar of laughter.