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On Wednesday, April 23, Gun Hill Road resident Lena Trippardella celebrated her 98th birthday, and then she went back to work.
Since her husband’s death 37 years ago, Trippardella’s dedicated her time to serving others.
She recalled the day it all began. Sitting in the lobby at Saint Joseph’s Medical Center in Yonkers, patiently waiting while her husband received treatment, she approached a doctor saying, “I want to volunteer, but I don’t know how.”
That day changed everything.
“The people here are wonderful,” Trippardella said about her more than three decades of service at the center. “These are the best days of my life.”
So much so that she travels a great distance to arrive at the center by 8 a.m. three days each week.
“She takes two busses going and two busses coming home,” her daughter Theresa Cirdullo said.
When asked about the substantial time commitment, Trippardella simply stated, “I have all day honey, so it doesn’t bother me.”
When she’s not volunteering, Trippardella said she loves playing BINGO and visiting her senior groups – though not too often. “They’re nice, but they’re too old,” she said laughing.
Along with her work at Saint Joseph’s, Trippardella spends a great amount of time at her neighborhood church, Immaculate Conception.
“She’s active in all that goes on in the parish,” her daughter explained. “She’s just a unique lady.”
Acting as a Eucharistic minister for Mass and knitting items for various functions, Trippardella said she couldn’t see herself anywhere else.
“She’s a very, very faithful lady,” Cirdullo said. “Maybe that’s why God keeps her here, so she can continue to help others.”
At 70, Cirdullo said her own eyesight not being what it used to be, she looks to her 98-year-old mom to read the food labels at the grocery store.
“Nobody takes care of her,” she said. “She takes care of everyone else.”
Born in Manhattan in 1910, Trippardella moved to the Bronx in her early teens. She raised two daughters and a son, two of which preceded her in death. Loving her community, she’s made it her mission to give back.
“She’s an inspiration to many, many people,” Arlene Penn, coordinator of volunteers at Saint Joseph’s said. “We’re very blessed to have her here.”
Trippardella’s infectious optimism and sense of humor made her a favorite among the center’s staff and residents.
“She’s truly an asset to us,” Penn assured. “She always has a joke and a smile.”
Laughing, Trippardella said a friend once asked her if she goes to bed with a man every night. Instantly she replied, “Yes, every night I sleep with Carlo Rossi.”
While her daily glass of wine may contribute to her longevity, she said it’s her lifestyle choices that make the biggest impact.
“When I have nothing to do I have my crossword puzzle,” she explained. “That keeps me going.”
Trippardella urges everyone to get up and add years to their own lives through a little self-giving. “Get something to do,” she urged. “Start volunteering because it’s good for your mind and good for your body.”
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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