Dorothy and Keith Gabbett are “people people”. Within the first moments of talking to them, this fact becomes apparent.
“I like helping other people who need help,” Keith explains. If he sees someone in need, it is his instinct to do what he can to assist. This instinct led him to a career in human resources, first for Swiss Bank, then for Fujitsu. For Swiss Bank, he helped workers from Switzerland transition to their jobs in the U.S. in a transfer program. Working for Fujitsu, Keith interfaced with immigration lawyers to help Japanese employees obtain work visas.
Dorothy spent her entire working life as a social worker, getting “down and dirty” in the streets of Somerset County to help the mentally ill homeless. She loved the job, and realized she needed to be out there. “Some people just can’t sit in an office, and I’m one of those people,” Dorothy says of her vocation. After that, she worked as a patient advocate in nursing homes. “Basically, I made sure the nursing homes were obeying the rules, although the part I enjoyed most was interacting with the residents.”
It’s no surprise, then, that the Gabbetts would direct their caring natures toward volunteering.
Dorothy and Keith met when they were both communicants of St. Peter’s Church in Spotswood, NJ. Now, twenty-seven years of marriage later, Keith credits their common interests, and different experiences, with keeping their connection strong. “Here I was, planning a corporate dining room with fancy linens, dishes, silver and crystal, and she was working with homeless teaching them how to recycle their belongings,” he says, laughing.
One thing they really love to do together is travel. They’ve visited all the national parks except Yellowstone (a bucket list item), taken cruises to Alaska (a high point) and the Caribbean, and enjoy taking bus tours. Their favorite trip? A river cruise to the European Christmas markets.
Through it all is their commitment to church and the community. Over the years, they have been extremely active with St. Peter’s, and the Community of Hope ministries in Spotswood. Dorothy helped restructure and expand their food pantry. As a case worker, she assisted people in finding housing, and advocated for people with entitlement programs. Keith picked up food weekly from Costco and local restaurants, which was then served at the community suppers at St. Peter’s. He also drove people to doctor appointments for the Interfaith Network of Care.
So when they moved to Toms River from New Brunswick three years ago, the Gabbetts were looking to turn their attention, once again, to helping others. They had heard about CVCJ through several sources, including their community newsletter and several individuals in their circle of new friends. As usual, it was their church, Christ Church in Toms River, that solidified the deal. “Once we heard your presenter talk about Caregiver Volunteers of Central Jersey at our church, we knew we had found our niche,” Dorothy says.
Dorothy makes friendly phone calls for CVCJ, while Keith has been driving people to doctor appointments. Although new to CVCJ, Dorothy has already made several friendly phone calls to one of our care receivers. “This person has only recently become homebound, and really appreciates having the connection to the outside world. Although she has a live-in caregiver, talking to someone on the outside helps fill in the gaps as she learns to adapt to a less active lifestyle. She is very upbeat when we talk, and really appreciates everything CVCJ has done for her. She is very comfortable talking to me, and I love making that personal connection.”
“I’ve been very blessed with good health and financial position, and I have a car and can help other people. I get a great deal of satisfaction knowing that. I may one day be in the position of need and hopefully there will be someone who will do the same for me,” Keith explains.
Our CVCJ care receivers are equally blessed to have the Gabbetts serving them.