Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Senior center director stepping down

By CLINTON DICK, Herald Staff Writer | 6/21/2013

Florene Hart has seen a lot of people come and go, as well as many changes, in 33 years at the Ottawa Senior Center, she said.

“Back in the old days, people would do different kinds of things together,” Hart, director of the center, 130 S. Main St., said. “We would have cake walks, and people would dress up for different holidays. We even took out the pool table last year because not enough people were using it. People don’t want to do that anymore.”

Florene Hart has seen a lot of people come and go, as well as many changes, in 33 years at the Ottawa Senior Center, she said.

“Back in the old days, people would do different kinds of things together,” Hart, director of the center, 130 S. Main St., said. “We would have cake walks, and people would dress up for different holidays. We even took out the pool table last year because not enough people were using it. People don’t want to do that anymore.”

Hart hopes to retire July 15.

Patricia Shultz, Pomona, is set to take her place.

“I feel like I am coming into a program that has done a great job,” Shultz said. “Florene has paved the way for me, and it will be much easier coming in after Florene.”

On a daily basis, Hart oversees the senior center’s 35 to 36 volunteers. And about 80 people are signed up for home-delivered meals, she said.

“We have seven routes with seven drivers every day,” Hart said. “Some drive twice.”

Hart also is in charge of securing entertainment for the center.

“We used to have some sort of entertainment in the evenings,” Hart said. “Most people now come in the mornings and leave after lunch, so we have our entertainment now at 11 a.m.”

Despite the many changes Hart has seen through the years, she said, she always has loved her job. Hart also has done extensive work as a volunteer for the Salvation Army. Adam Lynch, Salvation Army volunteer, said her retirement is well-deserved.

“She has such a tender heart for those less fortunate,” Lynch said. “I started volunteering for Florene as a bell ringer eight or nine years ago, and she passed the torch over to me about six years ago. She has been very helpful and supportive.”

Sharon Geiss, executive director of Mid-America Nutrition in Ottawa, is Hart’s supervisor and said she has done an outstanding job.

“Florene is a very caring and well-organized individual,” Geiss said.

As for finding ways to keep busy after her retirement, Hart said she isn’t worried.

“I’ve got a big house and a big yard that I am involved in,” Hart said. “I am also very involved in the Calvary Baptist Church. Family, too, of course. I just had my first great-great-grandchild about a year ago. My oldest daughter is 68 and my next daughter is 58.”

Apart from her family and her church, Hart said she is just thankful to be where she is now.

“I am thankful every day that I have good health,” Hart said. “I am thankful that I could keep working this long.”

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