October 11, 2023

Get to Know Jimmy and Shellie Honohan!

Jimmy and Shellie Honohan

Who do you call when you want to host a fun and successful event? Jimmy and Shellie Honohan! The dynamic husband and wife duo have been an integral part of the Chelsea Jewish Lifecare recreational team for over 20 years. Shellie Honohan, Activities Director at CJL, joined the organization in 2002, after getting her CNA certification at Bunker Hill Community College. (She still has the certificate!) When a position opened up in the Activities Department, Shellie accepted it and hasn’t looked back since.

Jimmy, who early in his career managed grocery stores and warehouses and owned an ice cream truck business with Shellie, also drove oil and trailer trucks. In fact, he was driving an oil truck one day in 2006 when Shellie called to tell him she had “volunteered” his services as the sole entertainer at a Florence & Chafetz tea party. Jimmy remembers his surprise. “At the time, I was in a band but had never played solo,” recalled Jimmy. “I was petrified!” Not surprisingly, the residents and staff loved listening to him and and on May 15th, 2007, Jimmy became a Chelsea Jewish Lifecare employee.

For the first three years Jimmy worked as an activity assistant, driving the bus, and overseeing activities, while also driving an oil truck in the fall and winter. He vividly recalls the phone call that changed the course of his career. Mr. Berman called to ask him: “What will happen to my residents if you get hurt driving an oil truck?” Jimmy admitted he had never thought about it. The rest, as they say, is history.

The couple, who went to their senior prom together, got married on February 4, 1978, right before one of the biggest blizzards ever hit New England. Both Jimmy and Shellie are originally from Charlestown and lived there for twelve years. They settled in a house near the ocean in Revere, where they raised two sons and now have two grandsons. Tragically, they lost a grandson, who was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder, when he was only 4 ½ years old.

How does a couple married for 45 years manage to work together day in and day out? According to Shellie, they both have a strong work ethic, which helps to put things into perspective. “Neither of us shy away from doing what has to be done,” remarked Shellie. “We see the results of our efforts by the feedback we get from the residents. All in all, we make a very good team!”

Coming up with activities takes a lot of creativity as well as attention to detail. Bingo is a must (everyone loves bingo!) as are trivia games. Daily physical exercise is crucial. They also incorporate bowling, beading, restaurant trips, book club, beach outings, sightseeing tours and more. Most importantly, they are open to new ideas. As Shellie explains, “If a resident suggests an activity or outing, we talk about it and, if we think it can work, we try it. It’s a true collaboration.”

Not being Jewish, Shellie and Jimmy wanted to know more about the culture, so Shellie enrolled them in a six month Introduction to Judaism course,” explained Shellie. “It is usually the first step people take to convert to Judaism, and although we were not planning on becoming Jewish, we really wanted to understand as much as we could about the Jewish holidays, rituals, and traditions. The course helped us to bring the true essence of the holidays to our Jewish residents as well as help our non-Jewish residents understand the meaning of the holidays.”

Jimmy and Shellie feel lucky to be part of the Chelsea Jewish family. “Shellie and I have worked at a good number of jobs over our lifetime but have never worked for people who care as much as Mr. Berman, Adam Berman, and Mrs. Mullen,” said Jimmy. “They inspire us every single day.” Jimmy also applauded the CJL staff. “Shellie and I work alongside some of the most compassionate people I have ever met,” stated Jimmy. “The staff are never afraid of taking on big projects. They lead with their hearts. We feel so very grateful to be a part of this organization.”

When asked about what the couple liked best about working at Chelsea Jewish Lifecare, Jimmy was quick to respond. “The happiness we bring to our residents fills our hearts daily,” enthused Jimmy. Added Shellie, “We love the fact that we are able to make a profound difference in the quality of life for our residents.” Thank you, Shellie and Jimmy Honohan, for making all of our lives so much better!