If you were to walk the halls of Adira at Riverside Rehabilitation on any given Tuesday, you would likely see the smiling face of Tony Martelli. Given the pep in his step and the warm welcome, you might mistake him for the family member of a patient, an administrator or even a member of the nursing staff. It would be an understandable assumption given his friendly, welcome to our home demeanor but he falls into none of those categories.
Tony is Adira’s most dedicated volunteer.
Adira may not be Tony’s home but he considers it a home away from home and has volunteered here every week for the past several years. When I asked why he chose to dedicate so much of his precious retirement time to volunteering, his answer was rooted in personal experience. Both of Tony’s parents spent their last days in nursing homes and, to put it simply, Tony wanted to give back.
A Yonkers resident for 42 of his 64 years, Tony is a retired Teamster and Labor Supervisor with the Yonkers Sanitation Department. Although, calling him ‘retired’ seems like a misnomer. In addition to volunteering at Adira, he works at Costco three days a week and is heavily involved with the Holy Name Men’s Society at St. Bartholomew’s church, his local parish. No moss grows here. Tony is more active than many non-retired individuals.
When asked what he enjoys the most when volunteering at Adira, he said, “Spending time one on one with the residents…. In fact, there are four people I have to call when I go on vacation. I get the international plan!”
If he’s not giving his friends one on one attention or making them laugh with his stories, he participates in many of the activities that Adira provides our residents. In addition to music, the balloon/ball toss is his favorite because sometimes he likes to sneak in a second balloon to keep things interesting. “I like to go outside the box.”
The positive impact Tony has at Adira is evident in the warm welcome he receives from the residents, patients, and staff. His energy, smile, and dedication are infectious. However, Tony admits that it benefits him too and he’s not alone. According to a report from the Corporation for National Community Service, older Americans who volunteer, frequently live longer and report less disability.
Tony sees his time spent with the patients as not only helpful for them but also for their families. Many people are unable to visit their loved ones as often as they would like and knowing that people like Tony spend time with them is a priceless comfort. A staunch Catholic, Tony makes it a point to attend the wake of any resident he has befriended and the hugs he gives out at Adira, are shared there as well.
When Tony isn’t engaged in one of his many “retirement” activities, he enjoys traveling the world with his wife of 39 years, Ann Marie, and his beautiful daughter, Laura Ann.
While Tony has received many honors and recognitions during his career, his is most proud of the Home Town Hero Award which was given to him by the City of Yonkers, naming August 3rd Tony Martelli Day.
Tony may be a City of Yonkers Home Town Hero but he is a hero to many at Adira as well.
If you’d like to join Tony and volunteer at Adira or at our sister facility, Sprain Brook Manor Rehab, please email Sara Humphreys, Director of Marketing and Communications at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 914-721-3954.