Sharon Ritchie, Director of Food Service
Sharon was born and raised in Longmeadow, MA. She started working at JGS Lifecare just prior to her 16th birthday in 1991. She was hired part-time as a dietary aide in the kitchen of the Leavitt Family Jewish Home. After her graduation from Longmeadow High School in 1993, Sharon started working full-time. In addition, she attended STCC and pursued training as an EMT but never continued in that field. She stayed at JNH and kept getting promoted: from dietary aide, to nutrition assistant, to kitchen supervisor, to Assistant Director (for over 15 years) and as of Jan. 2019, Director of Food Services, managing a staff of 28.
Why has she stayed so long? “I like what I do,” Sharon smiled. “I love the residents and the interactions I am able to have with them. I enjoy being part of this facility and being a part of all the changes that have happened over the years. I like the people I work with both in the kitchen and in other departments. They really are like my extended family. Some of us spend as much time here as we do with our families at home.”
Sharon has a lot of photos posted in her office, of residents and co-workers. There’s one of Ester Cohen, with whom she started working in the Dietary Department years ago. There’s a picture of Abe Neigher, a longtime JGS volunteer and then JNH resident. There are photos of staff working together for many special events at JGS, including Passover seders, Volunteer Dinners and much more. There’s a photo of the members of the Employee Activity Committee, on which Sharon served for many years, helping to plan all kinds of fun events for staff.
For many years, Sharon (along with her brother) has been helping her parents as they have aged, taking care of many of their needs. Although her mother passed away 2 years ago, Sharon continues to be extremely attentive and helpful to her dad who is now living nearby, in Springfield. In her quiet time, she enjoys her home in East Forest Park, planting flowers and taking care of the yard.
As she reflects on her 29 years at JGS, Sharon recalls a number of good mentors including Steve Lawrence and Tony DalZovo. And now that she is the Director, what does she look for when she is hiring? “Someone who brings a special personality,” she says, “an open mind, a willingness to learn new things (including the Kosher dietary practices), and a positive attitude.”
We celebrate Sharon’s long and devoted tenure at JGS and thank her for the positive spirit she brings to each person with whom she interacts. She truly believes in the mission of this organization and is a valued leader, leading with a compassionate and caring heart.