There were hugs and dancing and plenty good treats on Wednesday as the folks at the Washington County Senior Center said goodbye to executive director Deb Anderson as she officially retired.
“Deb welcomes anybody,” said Carolyn Volk of West Bend. “It doesn’t matter what your age is or disability, she makes it family, this is what we all need in this community, this is my family.”
Anderson started at the Senior Center Nov. 1, 2011. “When I was interviewed for the job they asked if there was one thing that stood out that I’d like to do and I said I’d like to get the Senior Center into a place that was not institutional.”
Four years ago Anderson saw the need, as baby boomers in the community age and she saw the Senior Center had an ability to do more.
“This is a place where senior citizens can come get recreation, education and social programs and last year our seniors donated over 4,000 volunteer hours,” Anderson said. “My other goal was that we become part of the community. Not apart from, but a part of.”
Anderson said she saw the impact the facility had, especially for a majority of seniors who come following loss. “They’ve lost their home, their health or their spouse,” said Anderson. “So they come here and they have to build up. But seniors who have been here many years and go through loss, they already have established friendships here; they move along in their next stage in life. We are a support place.”
During the afternoon gathering at the Senior Center the members talked about gaining friends and how the Senior Center and its activities make them feel relevant.
Linda Marquardt is a volunteer at the Senior Center. “Deb’s brought a lot of stuff to this place,” said Marquardt. “She got us out there so people know we’re here; she always has a smile on her face and she never says no.”
“Deb came in with the idea to make a difference,” said Deb White. “And get us into a new place and she’s finally succeeding.”
The Senior Center will be moving into a new space next to The Threshold this Spring. Anderson was an integral part of making that happen.
“She was so energetic and helped in all ways,” said Sharon Tesker, manager at Senior Center. “She’s going to be missed but Mary’s going to fill in and I have confidence in her.”
Mary Russell will be taking over as executive director of the Senior Center. Watch for her story on Washington County Insider on Friday.