Barbara Coish: Recognized by All in Windham Gets Recognition

September 9, 2016


by Barbara O’Brien

Known to some people as Barbara; others as Babs, and a chosen few as Mom or Grandma, Mrs. Coish is a fixture in the Town of Windham; equally involved in town and school district activities.  On the rare occasion that she’s not in attendance at some Windham event, it is obvious that someone important is missing.

As a result of the numerous hours she spends helping out others in the community, Barbara Coish was a virtual shoo-in for this year’s Senior Service Award, presented annually by Windham Terrace Assisted Living; an honor she received on Aug. 17.

Barbara and Ron Coish have called Windham home for decades, raising their son and daughter and watching their grandsons growing up along Cobbett’s Pond.  Since retiring from her career as a dental hygienist, Coish has devoted an amazing number of hours volunteering; serving on the school board, the cable committee, ceaselessly promoting Windham’s sister city Suzdal, Russia, videotaping countless municipal and school district meetings, working at the polls and driving other seniors to appointments and taking them shopping.  In addition, for the past 17 years, Coish has managed Windham’s Senior Center; located in an historic town-owned building across North Lowell Road from town hall.  The senior center has become Coish’s home away from home, where she can be found several days each week making certain that other seniors have access to the resources they need and just having a place to socialize with others.

The Senior Service Award is given to a senior volunteer who dedicates time for the benefit of other local seniors and acknowledges the important work seniors do in giving back to their community.  That description fits Barbara Coish to a “T.”

Coish has received awards before for her dedication to the community, but was still surprised when she learned of this latest accolade.  “I knew the award was out there, but never expected to receive it myself,” Coish said.  “You don’t volunteer because you expect to get an award.  You do it because you want to help,” she said, adding how fortunate she is to have the time and stamina to continue doing something she loves.  “It’s truly a joy to help others,” she said, “And it’s an honor to know that what we do is appreciated by others.”  The Windham Senior Center is run completely by volunteers, including two Windham High School students who spend time helping their elders and enjoying the company of an older generation.

Coish said Windham Terrace really tried to keep the award a secret from her, simply asking seniors to share in an ice cream social with the residents on Aug. 17.  “Having ice cream for dessert on our game day was a perfect addition,” Coish thought.  As it turned out, lots of other people knew about the award.  “A very nice crowd of seniors was on hand,” Coish said.  “Just before 2 p.m., the chef and the staff from Windham Terrace arrived at the senior center, carrying vanilla ice cream, toppings, sprinkles, whipped cream and lots of root beer for good old-fashioned ice cream floats.”

During the ice cream social, Coish was presented with a traditional blue box from Tiffany’s.  “After unwrapping yards and yards of bubble wrap, I found an engraved crystal platter,” Coish said.  “It’s absolutely beautiful!”  Coish also received flowers and two “giant” check replicas; one for $500 for the Windham Senior Center, the other for the Coish Family Scholarship at Windham High School.  The scholarship is administered by the Windham Endowment.

“It is a special honor to be chosen to receive this recognition,” Coish said, after the presentation.  “I have been blessed to be able to volunteer for so many years and I hope that I have many more years of volunteering to come in my life.”  “However, the real benefit of this award is that the senior center and the endowment scholarship have received a financial donation and the spotlight is shining on those organizations!”

“We’re honored to recognize an individual like Barbara Coish, who is so dedicated to providing services that focus on the well-being of seniors in our community,” said Lynda Brislin, executive director of Windham Terrace.  “Barbara and the other volunteers at The Windham Senior Center are an inspiration.”