Members of the Bainbridge Island Senior Community Center voiced their farewells and happy retirement wishes to long time director Jane Allan during a gala send-off at Saint Barnabas Parish Hall on Sept. 26, with representatives from the city of Bainbridge Island and the Metro Parks & Recreation District adding their thanks for her service to those of our members.
Partings are hard, but change is inevitable. Jane Allan’s plan to retire was the bad news.
Now here’s the good news. The Bainbridge Island Senior Community Center Search Committee has found us an excellent replacement in Susan Barrington, who has been at the senior center since Sept. 17, visiting our scattered activities at their various venues and learning the nuts and bolts of her new job.
But Sue is no stranger to the task. She comes to us from a similar position at the Sedona (Arizona) Community Center, where she was in charge of programming, grant writing, managing personnel and volunteers, Meals on Wheels, facility rental, building and grounds and public relations, which included writing a weekly newspaper column and creating radio and television promotions from 2005 to 2011.
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Sue in the midst of her busy schedule at the senior center. I was delighted to discover the warm, enthusiastic personality behind her impressive resume and career accomplishments.
I discovered we had many things in common. We share backgrounds in education and teacher training.
We both discovered Bainbridge in search of a cooler climate: Sue left the intense Arizona sun of Sedona; I fled the heat of Los Angeles. More important, I found a fellow believer in the value of elder wisdom and how much we seniors can and do contribute to the whole community.
I was pleased to hear of her strong interest in the value of sharing life stories. (She even has a copy of my book on the subject!)
My belief in gray power came in with my gray hair and wrinkles— life is a great teacher. I asked Sue what had brought her to the same interest in seniors. She explained that as an only child, she was the sole care-giver for her parents as they aged. This taught her the importance of the quality of life issues that confront us as we age, the positive opportunities as well as the negative drawbacks to be confronted.
In discussing her vision and hopes for our senior center, our conversation ranged over a number of topics, including the need to raise visibility of our growing senior population through interaction with the larger community.
Our members volunteer at the Bainbridge Isalnd Public Library, the Historical Museum, the Master Gardeners, Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers, One Call for All, schools, civic groups and advisory committees — the list goes on.
To this, Sue Barrington would add another dimension, looking forward to collaborating and forming partnerships with other non-profits with similar challenges to those encountered by BISCC. As allies with governmental, educational, for-profit and non-profit businesses and faith-based communities, we can better serve the needs of our community.
Among Sue’s other goals for the senior center are more intergenerational and interagency activities, ongoing lifelong learning projects and community building.
Speaking of buildings, here’s the latest on our reconstruction. First, as always, the bad news. The work is taking longer than anticipated, so our completion date will need to be revised. Look for the grand opening somewhere closer to the end of the year. What a great opportunity for a New Year’s party to welcome in our new home!
Now the good news. We’re under budget! In the building world, that’s considered a kind of miracle, so let’s rejoice in that. (Another reason to party?)
In all things, there is always a silver lining. Our building will be late, but it won’t break our budget. We’re losing one dedicated director, but gaining another with the experience and enthusiasm to move into Jane Allan’s shoes.
Sue Barrington may find them hard to fill at first — but who wouldn’t. Having met Sue, I have a feeling it won’t be long before they’ll fit just fine.