Supporting the elderly with Betsy Narrow

Betsy Narrow
Betsy Narrow (Michael Diamond Photographer)

Even though it was necessary to move Levindale Auxiliary Inc.’s June 9 wine-tasting fundraising event online due to the pandemic, Betsy Narrow, a former president and current board member of the Auxiliary, was excited to participate in the event, which honored herself and her husband for their work for the organization.

“For an event like this to be so exciting, even though everybody kept saying to me, ‘I’m sorry it’s not in person,’ we had a real village to put the whole thing together,” said Narrow, 70.

At the event, Narrow and her husband, Lou, received the Lifetime Volunteer Award for their work for the Auxiliary, the supportive arm of the Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Nursing Home and Hospital. Narrow is a resident of Pikesville and a member of Beth El Congregation of Baltimore, and she has two children, son Eric and daughter Julia.

Growing up in Harrisburg, Pa., Narrow was very active in both her synagogue, Beth El Temple, and the local JCC. Her father was involved in business, while her mother was a homemaker. Both were active leaders in their community, with Narrow learning from their example.

Narrow graduated from Pittsburgh’s Chatham College, which is now Chatham University, with a degree in drama and a minor in elementary education.

Narrow later found work as a personnel recruiter for Temple University in Philadelphia, she said. When her husband’s job required him to move to the Baltimore area, they relocated in 1983. The fact that several of her relatives were already living in the area at the time helped to smooth out the transition.

Narrow first came to learn of Levindale a year or two after moving to the area. At the time, she was part of a synagogue singing group that performed at different locations, including nursing homes like Levindale. In 1987, she was invited to join the board of the Auxiliary, where she has made lifelong friends.

The basic goals of the Auxiliary, a volunteer nonprofit organization, is to enhance the Levindale residents’ lives through outings, activities and interactive events, which the Auxiliary works to fundraise for, Narrow said.

The activities that the Auxiliary has helped plan and organize at Levindale have included bingo, bartending during happy hours and “snowball parties” during the summer months.

“We help with decorating the sukkah. During Purim we’d get dressed up in our costumes and walk around, just anything that we could do to help them,” Narrow said.

The Auxiliary has also donated funds for Levindale’s facilities, such as the “Auxiliary sensory garden,” Narrow said. In past years, the Auxiliary has managed to raise as much as $25,000.

The Auxiliary has also helped to support Levindale’s staff, such as with pizza parties, Narrow said.

While Narrow was only supposed to be president of the Auxiliary for two years, she ended up holding the position for three, from 2010 to 2013, she said. She was proud to have personally met as many of Levindale’s residents as she had, and to meet so many of the people involved in the Auxiliary.

Narrow was also glad to be part of the groundbreaking of Levindale’s “households.” Designed around the concept of helping residents feel more at home, the households are made up of nine people in a space that includes a central kitchen area where residents can choose what they want to eat.

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