Fulham Brings National Experience to his Own Backyard
It’s no secret that many seniors in the area enjoy regular visits to the Estuary Council of Seniors, Inc. (ECSI) for the many services offered there. The person now in charge of making sure all the programs run smoothly is Garith Fulham.
Garith just began his role as program coordinator at the ECSI about three weeks ago, but he has wanted to work there for a long time.
“I had known for a long time that it would be a great spot to work,” Garith says, noting he has long history working in community supporting organizations.
ECSI is a nonprofit based in Old Saybrook that seeks to help seniors and older adults in Chester, Clinton, Deep River, Essex, Killingworth, Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook through programs, advocacy, and activities aimed to promote health and healthy aging.
“I’ve worked in nonprofits basically all of my life. Most of that time was spent working with the HIV and AIDS community,” Garith explains.
Garith says that he happened to fortuitously notice a job opening at ECSI and so he applied.
“It’s been great so far. We live right downtown, so a lot of people who go to the Estuary are actually my neighbors,” Garith says.
Of his role, Garith says, “Technically what I do is oversee every program we do.”
That includes responsibilities as varied as dance classes, food provision, and tai chi.
“A lot of it is making sure that people who come in have all the resources they need and then making sure that clients get everything out of our services,” says Garith.
Additional duties include meeting new members, making sure rooms are set up, and “working with volunteers on a regular basis.”
Garith is quick to point out that part of the mission of the ECSI is to provide food for seniors both through a Meal on Wheels program as well as in-person lunches and grab-and-go meals.
“Your job is to care about everything. It really does feel like a family here,” says Garith.
Though he’s only been on the job a short time, Garith says he already knows his favorite part.
“As corny as it sounds, my favorite part is the people. Right now, after the year we had, people are finally coming back and they’re so excited and joyous it’s great,” says Garith.
A project he’s particularly eager to see com to fruition is going to require a little patience,
“I’m excited to expand on the wonderful existing programs and looking forward to the spring when our beautiful new patio and outdoor area opens,” Garith says. “With great views of the marsh and North Cove, it is the perfect place to host live music, outdoor art classes, and social events.”
Working to help others is nothing new for Garith—”I started at a very young age,” he says.
When he was a teenager, he began volunteering in high school and liked it so much he kept doing it.
“It started when I was 14. I volunteered at a hospital all summer and then liked it so much I even kept doing it during the school year,” says Garith.
That legacy of volunteering has stayed with Garith as he has grown older and become active in a number of organizations. Prior to his role at the ECSI. Garith did advocacy work with an organization that works with the HIV and AIDS community.
“I stayed in that field for a long, long time,” says Garith.
While he enjoyed the work, Garith says it was very stressful and included a lot of days on the road as he traveled around the Midwest and New England.
Garith says that some aspects of that job actually come in handy with his current one.
“You have to deal with people and make sure you can get them all the help with everything they need,” Garith says.
Garith finds time to volunteer locally with the Friends of North Cove Association, which aims to protect the natural beauty of the North Cove section of town. Garith also still serves with some organizations that he had volunteered with in previous places he’s lived.
“I’ve always stayed very active with volunteering,” says Garith.
Garith originally grew up in Western Massachusetts but has called Old Saybrook home since he and his husband Mark moved to town in 2017.
“We just fell in love with coming here,” says Garith.
Garith recalls that they used to come to town for dinner and visit and when they began looking at neighboring towns, a realtor suggested they look in Old Saybrook and gave them a tour. “They drove us around going to places in town we had had no idea existed and we loved it all,” says Garith.
When not working or volunteering, Garith says he can be found walking his dog and spending time with friends.
“We really enjoy Old Saybrook to the fullest, that’s for sure,” says Garith.
“I absolutely love the river, the wildlife in the town, as well as the sense of community we’ve found since we moved here,” says Garith.