Serendipity is the byword at SilverSource, the Stamford nonprofit that for the last 100-plus years has served the needs of area senior citizens. Not only was it in search of a new board chair, but its selection, Thomas Getreuer, had recently retired from his career as a dentist.
“Retirement was in the works for me for the last five years,” Getreuer told the Business Journal. “It was a complete coincidence that the board approached me with the idea and that it just fit into my plans.”
While Getreuer has served on the SilverSource board since 2013, and also chairs the Stamford Health Commission, he said he had “not at all” been aware of the nonprofit when a fellow dentist introduced him to it several years ago.
“It’s very much a situation where, if you like what they’re doing, you can’t help but get sucked into it,” he chuckled.
SilverSource was founded in 1908 as the Stamford Home for the Aged. Located in a residential home known as Denehurst, the organization originally provided housing for eight people.
As the nonprofit grew, it changed its name to better reflect its mission: First as Senior Services of Stamford and, in 2015, as SilverSource. The latest moniker, adopted to better represent of the group’s expanded services, which today includes:
- Financial assistance, counseling and advocacy designed to keep older adults in their homes, including eviction prevention, and help with utility payments, medical devices and alerts; it says it helps some 500 seniors a year with that service;
- Financial support for prescriptions – over 1,500 filled per year – hearing aids, homecare and medical safety equipment;
- Home delivery of over 2,000 meals in 2019; and
- A number of community outreach programs to facilitate socialization and visits to homebound and hospitalized older neighbors.
“When the organization started, it was to serve the elderly, who were the most neglected group in Stamford,” Getreuer said. “And to some degree that’s still true today. But over the last 10 to 15 years, SilverSource has really taken off, and now does a lot more for seniors than ever before.”
He gave much of the credit for that to the organization’s CEO Kathleen Bordelon, who he said was instrumental in helping SilverSource pivot during the Covid-19 pandemic; in the spring, the group added a volunteer home grocery delivery service.
Jerry Berkman, a former SilverSource chairman and longtime real estate attorney for Day Pitney, expressed confidence that Getreuer would be a success in his new role, and noted that, like his successor, he was originally unfamiliar with the group.
“Like many others, I had been involved in various charities and community and arts organizations over the years,” Berkman said. “But I had never really focused on the problems of our seniors. I guess as I have become more of a senior myself,” he added waggishly, “I’ve thought more and more about it.
“We have such an obligation to help them,” he continued. “They are so important to our community, and we need to assist them in every way we can after all they’ve done over the years.”
Getreuer said that the city of Stamford – whose concern for the elderly was not much in evidence when the nonprofit started – today is a strong partner of SilverSource.
“Our challenge today is to find different ways to deal with new and emergent needs for this population,” he said. “It may not be why I retired from my day job, but it’s obvious that this is what we need to do moving forward.”