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Cynthia Wynant

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The Power of Social Circles

Celebrating Cynthia Wynant, Who Has Been Helping Seniors Make Memories with New Friends for Almost 40 Years

Nearly 40 years ago, Cynthia Wynant came up with what was at the time a novel idea. She didn’t realize that it would dramatically change the lives of hundreds of seniors in the Somerset Hills.

Wynant, a geriatric nurse who had recently resigned from Morristown Hospital, was having lunch with a friend who was mourning the death of her mother, who had been in her family’s care for 13 years.

“She finally had to put her in a nursing home,” Wynant says, “and she felt guilty because she had died two days later.”

Wynant, who had lived in Europe when her husband, Ted, was a senior executive at ExxonMobile, told her friend about the adult-care day centers that were common abroad.

“I suggested starting one, and she looked at me across the table and said, ‘Let’s do it,’” Wynant says.

In 1985, the Somerset Hills Adult Day Center opened its doors at the Somerset Hills Baptist Church.

Five days a week, the center, which since 2019 has been run by Atlantic Health, provides social activities, food and routine services such as hairdressing and foot care for seniors in the community.

“We offer social care, not medical care,” says Wynant, adding that the center is meant to give families a respite. “The fees are on a sliding scale and depend on the number of days the person comes.”

Since the beginning, Wynant has supported the center and has dedicated her life to it and other community services.

“I’m 89, but I draw lines through the numbers and tell people I’m 33,” she says. “I don’t act my age, but I do look my age.”

In addition to serving on the advisory board of Atlantic Health, Wynant is a Stephen Minister at Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church.

She also volunteers at the Far Hills Rummage Sale, where she works in the popular boutique tent.

She still lives in the same Basking Ridge house she and Ted—who has been “with the angels” for eight years—bought in 1960 and raised their son and daughter, who now have four grown children. 

She tends its gardens as well as the ones at the Somerset Hills Adult Day Center.

She drives around town to her various commitments in a beige Audi, which she says thankfully doesn’t have fancy gear like GPS. 

“Most people get ailments when they are 70, but I don’t have any,” she says. “So I don’t need to go to the Adult Day Center—at least not yet. But I do have a chair picked out, and I’ve told them that when they spray it gold, I’ll go.”

Given Wynant’s energy and enthusiasm, it doesn’t look like anyone will be picking up a can of spray paint any time soon.

Wynant has spent so much time doing things for others that she was “shocked and embarrassed” when she found out, via an email invitation that went to her and the general public simultaneously, that she is the honoree at the annual fundraiser she established 30 years ago to benefit the Adult Day Center. 

The event, held on November 6 at the Spring Brook Country Club in Morristown, will feature culinary tastings from some two dozen restaurants, fine wines and a silent auction with items donated by community members.

“I should not be standing there all alone because I didn’t do it alone,” she says. “I had an idea—and training—that’s all I had. There should be hundreds of people standing on that stage with me.”

Learn more about the Somerset Hills Adult Day Center at atlantichealth.org/conditions-treatments/visiting-nurse/adult-day-center.html.

Penne Con Pollo

Recipe by chef Michael Martinez at Portofino’s in Morristown, one of the restaurants participating in A Taste of the Hills. 

3.5 oz pasta penne

1 oz extra virgin olive oil

6 oz chicken tenderloin

2 oz asparagus tips

2 oz Chablis wine

4 oz tomato compote with fresh herbs

.5 oz salted butter

Pinch kosher salt and black pepper

Pinch chopped fresh parsley

Grated “Grana” Parmesan

Cook pasta per directions. 

Heat a small sauté pan over high heat. When hot, add oil.

Add chicken tenderloins and sauté for 3 minutes until cooked to 165° F.

Add asparagus, then deglaze with white wine.

Add tomato herb compote and pasta. 

Stir in butter and salt to taste. 

Serve on a warm plate. 

Add fresh ground pepper and top with parsley and a spoon or two of Parmesan. 


 

  • Taste of the Hills 2003
  • Taste of the Hills 2003
  • Taste of the Hills 2005
  • Taste of the Hills 2011
  • Cynthia Wynant
  • Cynthia Wynant
  • Cynthia Wynant
  • Penne Con Pollo
  • Penne Con Pollo
  • Penne Con Pollo
  • Michael Martinez, Portofino’s
  • Cynthia Wynant