INTERVIEWS


—  Our Executive Director
An Interview with Jane Nyce, Executive Director
—  Our President
An Interview with Tom Ferguson

 

Photo of Jane Nyce

Our Executive Director Lives Up to Her Name An Interview with Jane Nyce, Executive Director, Staying Put in New Canaan

In getting to know Staying Put's Executive Director, Jane Nyce, one quickly discovers that she lives up to her name, which is pronounced "nice." She has a merry twinkle in her eye, a good sense of humor, and a compassionate personality. Members, potential members, and their families always feel comfortable in discussing their personal situations and needs with her.

Jane is invaluable to every service Staying Put offers. She coordinates the staff and more than 100 volunteers. She makes regular check-in calls and home visits to some members, responds to questions, provides information, counseling, referrals and contacts with other organizations, and qualified service providers including home health care agencies.

We asked Jane: Q: What kinds of requests do you receive? A: Last year we responded to nearly 1,700 requests for services. The most frequent request we have is for rides. Fortunately, we have a very good computer program that coordinates rides with drivers and a group of wonderful volunteers who are always ready to drive.

I've also had calls from members who need grab bars installed in bathrooms, who need help picking up their mail on icy days, or who would like a weekly visit from a companion. One member wondered if we have "someone young enough to catch the cat and put him in his cage for a vet visit." The answer to all these members is "YES!" "Everybody joins for a different reason and I like to get to know what their expectations are for Staying Put and what we can do for them."

Q: What other services do you provide? A. We have a lot of social opportunities for our members to get out and meet new people and make new friends. Last year we organized more than 85 special events and outings for members including dinners out, field trips, talks, art tours, parties, and our popular Men's Coffee and annual Birthday Party. We have a list of more than 50 vetted suppliers we can recommend for indoor and outdoor home maintenance such as snow plowing or carpentry and personal services such as house cleaning and meal delivery.

A Smith College alumna with doctoral studies in psychology at Cornell, Jane first worked in consumer research, marketing and consulting. Her experience in caring for aging family members prompted a career change and inspired her to pursue a degree in health advocacy at Sarah Lawrence. She speaks of having seen "the effort it takes to stay healthy and confident in your ability to keep your home running smoothly and safely as you grow older," and she is committed to supporting seniors on an individual basis, after having come to know them personally.

Staying Put has also become a leader in the growing aging-in-place movement and Jane is frequently consulted by other communities who use New Canaan as a model for their programs.

Staying Put president Tom Ferguson praises her talents and warmth. "There doesn't seem to be anything Jane can't do. She's wonderful with people, and we're just incredibly lucky to have her on board." Every day, seniors in New Canaan are enjoying the difference Jane and Staying Put can make in many lives, and what a pleasure that is!



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An Interview with the President of Staying Put in New Canaan, February, 2009

Photo of Tom Ferguson

Our President of Staying Put, Tom Ferguson, seems uniquely qualified for his new role, with diverse experience consulting in human resources, insurance and healthcare. Prior to retiring in 2002, Tom spent 15 years with Mercer Human Resources Consulting, where he was a Worldwide Partner and the Northeast Regional Leader of the firm's healthcare and benefits practice. His consulting assignments spanned a range of issues including employee benefit strategy and design, retiree medical issues and managed care. His clients included Verizon, GTE, Eli Lilly, Unisys, PepsiCo and General Electric. From 1969 through 1987 Tom worked at Equitable Life in a variety of actuarial and management roles including seven years as Vice President of Marketing for the group health insurance division.

Tom has served as Vice President of Staying Put since its inception in 2007, and he is also a director of the United Way of New Canaan and serves on the Town of New Canaan Health and Human Services Commission. An avid tennis player, he is treasurer of the Lake Club.

Tom and his wife Karen have lived in New Canaan since 1987. Karen, now retired, had a career in banking, most recently as a senior banker in the Citigroup Private Bank. Tom and Karen met while attending Brown University where Tom received a B.S. in Applied Mathematics in 1967. Their son Matthew, now a NY attorney, attended Saxe Middle School and graduated from New Canaan High School in 1994.

When Tom heard about the formation of a committee to launch Staying Put, he volunteered his help and quickly became involved in a major way. He notes that the dues charged for Staying Put membership amount to about half the cost of running the organization and providing services. In order to retain low membership fees (in relation to similar organizations on the East coast), he says "we'll need the generosity of citizens and foundations to supplement our dues. We want more people to join."

"A large population of our people over 60 should join", he continues. "They'll find we are very inclusive. Also, we really do want to identify people in need and support them with scholarships, which are totally confidential. And the more members we have, the more special events we can plan. We recognize that the need for socialization is especially important to our members as they grow older, often living alone. Staying Put provides the opportunity to make new friends to replace old ones no longer here."

In building membership, Tom mentions the issue of people who say 'We don't need it yet.' "If everybody waited until they really needed it, we wouldn't be able to provide all the services. It's like buying an insurance policy just before you become very ill." On the positive side, Tom adds, "We have a very good rate of membership renewals. We also have a very active Board of 25 people and many volunteers. Our director Jane Nyce and her assistant Donna Simone excel in their caring for people. If I had a problem, I can't think of any two people I'd rather call on. They have a very personal connection with each member. That's what makes Staying Put the success that it is."


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