Hello.

Welcome to Life at Benchmark. Explore the stories shared by, families, people, innovators and leadership that add a spark that light up our community. 

Tornado Victim Finds Shelter at BSL at Hamden

Tornado Victim Finds Shelter at BSL at Hamden

On May 22, four tornadoes and several damaging macrobursts struck Connecticut. The storms downed trees and power lines and left more than 120,000 homes and businesses without electricity. Schools closed for several days while tree and line crews from Connecticut and neighboring states worked to open roads and restore power.

One tornado struck Hamden, home to Benchmark Senior Living at Hamden, and the home of Adele Volpe, the wife of a resident at the community. While the community did not sustain damage, the tornado tore through Adele’s neighborhood.

Standing amidst the devastation, Adele’s first concern was her husband. She called to ask how he was and the condition of the community. As she relayed the gravity of her situation and fear of not being able to see her husband, Front Desk Receptionist Chelsea Leach sounded the alarm.

  Adele’s neighborhood was one of the areas hit hardest by the tornado.

Adele’s neighborhood was one of the areas hit hardest by the tornado.

Standing amidst the devastation, Adele’s first concern was her husband. She called to ask how he was and the condition of the community. As she relayed the gravity of her situation and fear of not being able to see her husband, Front Desk Receptionist Chelsea Leach sounded the alarm.

Executive Director Jacquelyn Gaulin and Director of Community Relations Marlea (Mia) Criscuolo headed for Adele’s house. A few miles from her home, they hit a police roadblock. Following their GPS for an alternative route, debris blocked the path roughly a half-mile from their destination, so Jacquelyn and Mia made their way on foot through the devastation.

“We felt like we were in a disaster movie,” says Mia. “With all the fallen trees and telephone poles, we couldn’t even see the street.”

The pair traveled through front yards and over fences and power lines. They climbed over and crawled under fallen trees. Homeowners surveying the damage offered directions. Others, knowing that help was days away, used chainsaws to open the street.

“Adele was outside with a neighbor when she saw us coming,” says Mia. “She couldn’t believe her eyes.”

“They had to walk a half mile under wires and through downed trees,” says Adele. “It’s amazing, I don’t know what I would have done if it were not for them!”

After taking pictures for the insurance company, Mia and Jaquelyn helped Adele pack some of her belongings in a backpack.

  From left, Mia Criscuolo, Adele and Jacquelyn Gaulin with a backpack filled with Adele’s belongings.

From left, Mia Criscuolo, Adele and Jacquelyn Gaulin with a backpack filled with Adele’s belongings.

Mia and Jaquelyn carefully helped Adele walk to their car in what Adele called a “war zone.” With frequent stops for rest and water, it took about an hour and a half to reach the car. “It’s a good thing I had my gym bag with my fitness clothes that day,” says Mia. “I wore a dress to work.”

  While Adele’s car was in her garage, her neighbor was not so lucky.

While Adele’s car was in her garage, her neighbor was not so lucky.

Hours after a 911 operator told Adele it would take three days to reach her; Adele rested in a model room in the memory care wing where her husband resides.

“As a daily visitor, Adele is a part of our family,” says Jacquelyn Gaulin. “We loved having her in our home.”

During her stay, Hamden associates brought Adele shopping and, when the roads opened, to retrieve things from her home.

On one of her first trips home, Adele, who loves cooking and baking, retrieved steak and shrimp from her freezer. To express her appreciation for the community, she cooked fine dinners for associates every evening.

“I had nowhere else to go and Benchmark was a place of refuge for me,” says Adele. “They were just wonderful to me. I’ve told everyone in the world how wonderful they were.”

  Fallen trees penetrated Adele’s living room, a bedroom and the garage.

Fallen trees penetrated Adele’s living room, a bedroom and the garage.

Adele’s unsafe house was condemned and will take six months to rebuild. After living in the community for two and a half weeks, Adele’s insurance company moved her into a furnished apartment right next door to the Hamden community.

“We truly care about Adele,” says Jacquelyn. “We’re delighted that we could help in her time of need.”

  Jacquelyn Gaulin, Adele and Mia Criscuolo story was also published in the New Haven Register.  

Jacquelyn Gaulin, Adele and Mia Criscuolo story was also published in the New Haven Register.  

Sturges Ridge Partners With Community Groups to Help Keep Fairfield Strong

Sturges Ridge Partners With Community Groups to Help Keep Fairfield Strong

Congresswoman Ann McLane Kuster Visits The Birches at Concord

Congresswoman Ann McLane Kuster Visits The Birches at Concord