What the hell?

Marva Savariau being fed a load of crap

Via Bill Clark, The Greenwich Senior Center has fired their cook. I’m sure I read just a week or so ago that the food service people who took over the operation had sworn to keep this popular woman on. Liars, obviously. They run Nathaniel Witherell’s food service and will now be sending canned food over to the seniors on Greenwich Avenue. I’ll be back with more.

UPDATE: Here’s the Greenwich Time article; Bill Clark’s post is below.

The Senior Center has contracted with Morrison Management, which provides meals at the town-ownedNathaniel Witherell nursing home. The center’s food program is currently run independently.

Though the contract will cost the Senior Center an additional $70,000, an increase that went through with the passage of the 2010-11 town budget, the center is expected to save more than $36,000 through bulk purchasing with Morrison, and by using the company’s bookkeeper, said Sam Deibler, director of the town’sCommission on Aging.

The Senior Center also will have coverage by a certified food operator for the days when the center’s cook is sick or on vacation.

The change will cost seniors a little more money, thoughLaurette Helmrich, Senior Center administrator, noted the price of lunch at the center has not increased in more than 10 years, and is still cheaper than many other senior centers in the area. The Greenwich Senior Center averages 65 to 70 meals a day.

“For what we’re providing, it’s certainly a very good value,” Helmrich said.

Izzo said that when some members learned about the changes recently, they also thought cookMarva Savariau would be let go. Izzo said she circulated a petition asking for her to stay. But Helmrich said the plan was always to keep Savariau on.

Bill Clark:

[T] his morning Marva [Savariau], one of the Town’s most dedicated and hard-working employees, who for many years has prepared and served many tens of thousands of tasty home-cooked meals to the folks at the Senior Center, was summarily fired. Laurette Helmrich and Sam Deibler marched into the kitchen together and demanded her keys. She was told to put her personal effects into a cardboard box, and to leave the building and not come back.

As a Town building, the Senior/Arts Center is open to anyone and everyone during its regular hours. Marva, who also happens to hold a part-time job in the building with a private non-governmental agency, has as much right to be in the building as anyone else. Laurette and Sam’s high-handed behavior is a textbook example of a lawsuit in the making.

As for Marva, she is in shock. She has worked for the Town for decades, and is only a year or so away from being eligible for her pension. Do you think something may be rotten in the Town of Greenwich, dear reader?

Marva is one of the most competent and dedicated workers this Town has ever seen. The seniors adore her. If the Senior Center were still under the purview of the Parks & Rec Department, this would never have happened.

But things changed. The Commission on Aging took it over. Laurette, who came to the Senior Center from Nathaniel Witherell, has been agitating for several years to bring in the same commercial for-profit food service company used by the nursing home, and to get rid of the independent Town of Greenwich employee Marva and her smoothly-running operation. Recently, food service executive types in fancy suits have been prowling around the Senior Center, sniffing out and scenting a new source of revenue in the offing. And sure enough: it was recently announced that they will be taking over Marva’s operation on July 1.

The price of the new portion-controlled assembly-line meals will jump 33%. The quality will almost assuredly go down–how can you improve on Marva’s home cooking? But Laurette and Sam will no doubt have earned the gratitude of the food service honchos for their help in landing this profitable new contract, and if the seniors get the short end of the stick, well, they’re not exactly the most vocal or powerful constituency in Greenwich, are they?

It’s too bad that Charles Dickens is no longer around to roast the Town of Greenwich for this despicable and rotten behavior towards Marva, not to mention the many people for whom her cooking has long been their main meal of the day. But he’s not, and his type of righteous indignation is not considered fashionable in this Town these days. Probably most people in Greenwich will simply shrug their shoulders and say, so what?

But if there are any people out there who happen to believe that what happened to Marva this morning is shameful and wrong, here are the names of your neighbors who are in charge of this fiasco:


’11 Lori Jackson (Chairman) 2005 698-0158 (H)
46 Keofferam Rd.
Old Greenwich, CT 06870

’11 Catherine M. Brennan (Vice-Chairman) 2005 869-6222(H)
1 Meadow Drive 536-9576© Cos Cob, CT 06807 869-0080(O)

’10 Kristen N. Browne (Sec) 2007 203-661-0693 (H)
4 Grange St. 203-863-3206 (W)
Greenwich, CT 06830 Kristeng@greenhosp.org

’12 James B. Dougherty 2009 203-661-4865(H)
747 North Street 203-869-3085(W)
Greenwich, CT 06831 Jdough1928@aol.com

’10 Karen LaMonica 2004 661-0216 (H)
34 Benenson Drive 914-997-7912 ext. 750(W)
Cos Cob, CT 06807 203-536-7062 ©
914-997-0024 (F)

’12 John “Jack” Morris 2009 203-637-2143 (H)
49 Lockwood Ave. 203-253-0567 ©
Old Greenwich, CT 06870-1718 morrislj@optonline.net

‘11 Howard “Chip” Serrell 2007 661-2498 (H)
12 River Lane 769-2542 (W)
Cos Cob, CT 06807 howard.serrell@wachovia.com

Staff: Samuel E. Deibler 862-6710 (O) 867-6711(Direct)
1 Mill Pond Court 862-6701 (Fax-office)
Cos Cob, CT 06807 661-9343 (H)

Chicky Krois 862-6710 (O)
862-6701 (Fax-office)

Oh, and you might consider calling or emailing the Board of Selectmen as well. Peter Tesei, Dave Theis, and Drew Marzullo can all be reached athttp://www.greenwichct.org/ –just click on “Board of Selectmen” at the right margin on the home page.

In a perfect world, Marva would be re-hired, and Laurette and Sam would be the ones told to put their personal belongings into a box and get out. And the greedy for-profit food service people would be told to get out and stay out. But Greenwich, Connecticut is far from a perfect world, and today it has become markedly less so.

UPDATE II: I have received a somewhat cryptic email from one of the Board members urging me to get my facts straight. Well I can’t really do that if he won’t provide the facts, but in fairness, I will say that there appears to be another side to this story. We will have to wait, I guess, to see what that other side is.


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5 responses to “What the hell?

  1. Anonymous

    i’ll give you three to one odds that there will be a lawsuit, two to one odds that the town will defend at a cost of more than $100,000 and five to one odds that the town will lose the suit. [no analysis; just looking at history.]

  2. anonymous

    “The Senior Center also will have coverage by a certified food operator for the days when the center’s cook is sick or on vacation.” I believe this was the cause for the dismissal – an on-going problem over the years and a potential BIG liability for the town, as there was not $ in the budget for a second cook and union rules only required minimum notice for a sick day. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

  3. So Greenwich

    She is better off suing the town and recovering more that way than trying to get her job back and collect her pension. Seriously, did they not think of this when they told her to go?

    • So Greenwich, I’m hearing that there may have been some real issues with the woman. It’s so hard to tell what the truth is here, because the town’s constrained in what it can reveal and yet, it’s easy to hide behind that shield while maligning a person’s reputation. I’m inclined to think that the volunteers who give their time to the Seniors Center are acting in good faith and I give them the benefit of the doubt, but it’s frustrating to have no facts.
      It’s still a shame that the woman was fired when she was so obviously appreciated by the Senior Center patrons, but I just can’t tell what really happened here.