DANBURY, Conn. --- This Valentine's Day, many couples are making reservations to wine and dine each other, cook a meal, buy flowers, or indulge in chocolates, but some locals have found a more meaningful way to rekindle their romance -- they volunteer together.
"There's a special feeling you get inside when you give of yourself," said Jill Kaplan who, along with her husband, Harold, volunteers at Danbury Hospital. The two, married almost 44 years, often compare their volunteering to a date night.
While in his 40s, Harold had a heart attack and was treated at the hospital and said he was impressed with the level of care he received. After his experience -- which included being transferred to Yale to undergo quadruple bypass surgery, which was not available in Danbury at the time -- he knew he wanted to become a volunteer.
Added Jill: “As a caregiver, I lived through the tough decision-making process when Harold needed care,” so after Harold became a volunteer, I often thought about what caregivers are called upon to do and I always knew I wanted to help families in some way.”
Married nearly 50 years, John and Josephine Luicci echo the sentiment. They’ve loyally served in a volunteer capacity for more than 35 years. Nearly inseparable since a chance encounter while in Josephine’s Bronx, New York elementary school classroom years ago, she fondly recalls the young dapper John visiting her students while in uniform to discuss what it was like to serve the community as a police officer.
Somehow she knew then, the two would be destined to make a difference in the lives of others. While on sabbatical from school, Josephine started volunteering at the information desk.
She has seen the hospital grow by leaps and bounds over the years. Once she went back to work, she continued to volunteer during the summer and while on school vacations until she retired. At that point, volunteering became even more of a passion for her.
It took no nudging for John to become a volunteer ambassador at the hospital shortly after Josephine started. “It’s nice to volunteer as a couple because you share your experiences with each other,” said John.
In addition to volunteering at Danbury Hospital, they also volunteer at Connecticut Radio Information Service (CRIS), a sideband of Danbury,'s most listened to radio station, 98Q, WDAQ-FM where they read the “Danbury News-Times” to blind and print-handicapped listeners.
“We highly recommend volunteering as a couple if you have the chance,” says Josephine. “John is my best friend. There is nothing more meaningful than volunteering together.
"As a couple you both get more out of the experience then you will ever imagine.”
To learn more about volunteering, call 203-739-7384 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.