Dining Ambassadors Welcome New Neighbors at Charlestown

CATONSVILLE, MD (March 17, 2014) -- When was the last time you invited your neighbors over to dinner? If you're Sally Pound and Mary Ann Ressler, the answer is all the time. In the last year, the duo has wined and dined more than 70  of their new neighbors through the Dining Ambassador Program they helped start at Charlestown retirement community. Each month, Pound and Ressler plan one dinner party in each of Charlestown's four full-service restaurants. Armed with a list of new residents, the two get to work scheduling dinner dates, mailing out invitations, and planning the details. They also enlist the help of 13 dining ambassador volunteers who greet and dine with the guests. The dinners are relaxed and filled with laughter and the tables are beautifully set with name cards and flowers. Complimentary wine and hors d oeuvres are served before dinner, and the chef always stops by the table to greet everyone. The Dining Ambassadors enjoy helping new residents feel comfortable and easing their anxieties about this new phase in their life. Attendees at the dinners routinely exchange telephone numbers so they can get together and build new friendships. Charlestown Community Resources Manager Mary Evans said Pound and Ressler have done a remarkable job of taking an idea that otherwise might not have materialized and turning it into an incredibly successful program. "[Someone] in my office told me about these two delightful ladies who had just moved to Charlestown and were looking for something to sink their teeth into," said Evans. "There was no coaching or trying to encourage them to get involved; it just came naturally," Evans said.  "I think they both had good experiences moving into the community and wanted to make the experience for others as good, if not better.