Salt Point Center Staff donned Sparrows Nest T-shirts for Sparrow's Nest Dress Down DayDutchess BOCES joined other school districts and businesses for Sparrow’s Nest Dress Down Day, March 15, 2024. Named Sparrow’s Nest Day by County Executive Sue Serino, the day raises awareness and funds for the charity. This year, BOCES raised $1,780.

Founded over ten years ago by Krista Jones, Sparrow’s Nest has become a vital organization touching the lives of hundreds of families throughout the Hudson Valley. The charity provides weekly homemade meals to those that live within 35 miles of the Wappinger’s Falls kitchen, have children 18 and under living in the home, and are actively receiving treatment due to a cancer diagnosis.

“They are a local charity and they really step up to the plate for people in need,” shared Rosalia Reid, a school social worker at BOCES who acts as a liaison between Sparrow’s Nest and the campus. Sparrow’s Nest helped support Reid, who was personally impacted by cancer, although she had been supporting the charity well before her diagnosis. Reid, proudly wearing her Sparrow’s Nest apparel, added that this year, funds raised by Dutchess BOCES faculty and staff, including those from Astor Services, are being donated in honor of Sheena Volkmann.

Volkmann, who started working for Astor in 2008, most recently working at BOCES as Site Supervisor, passed away this January. A passionate supporter of Sparrow’s Nest even before her diagnosis, she was named the recipient of the year by Sparrow’s Nest in 2023.

Lesley Dreyer, school social worker, worked under Sheena at Salt Point Center. “Sparrow’s Nest was amazing to her and her entire family from the time she was diagnosed all the way to now, and they are still providing meals for her kids and really taking the time to support them. I think it’s an amazing organization, and I am happy to be part of it,” Dreyer said.

The meals still being provided to Volkmann’s family are part of Sparrow’s Nest’s Aftercare Program, which supports families for up to one year after losing a loved on. “They do so much, and it just bloomed,” shared Reid, speaking about all of the ways the charity grew after its inception, including the aftercare program and so much more. Starting out supporting mothers and their families, Sparrow’s Nest has expanded to fathers and children facing a diagnosis.

Salena Gray, Deputy Director for Astor Day Treatment in the Hudson Valley, worked closely with Volkmann. “Everyone used to call us Shalena because we were always walking around together. They knew the difference, but when it came time to say our names, that’s just how it came out,” she shared.

One thing Gray loves about Sparrow’s Nest is the personal touch they ensure in their delivery. She shared that recipients often develop a rapport with the volunteers who deliver their food. “They don’t turn anyone away,” she added.

“Sheena was an absolutely amazing person, one of the best people that I’ve ever met,” Dreyer shared. “She was such a loving, kind, and compassionate human being and I miss her terribly. I’m happy that we can honor her today.”

Sheena Volkmann smiles for the camera