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"A new face, voice for seniors"

"Three weeks into the job, Barbara McGilvray is already determined to improve and expand the Bainbridge Island Senior Center. The center's new director also hopes to make sure the individual interests of its members are included in its activities.The thing that makes a senior center successful is developing activities that the members themselves are excited about, McGilvray said. One of my roles is to listen to what members want and then implement their ideas.McGilvray comes to the island senior center having served at more than 23 similar centers around King County.Most recently, she worked with Seattle's Meals On Wheels, an organization of volunteers that prepares and delivers hot meals to elderly people who are unable to leave their homes. McGilvray said she is excited to finally work in her own community, and hopes to use her experience with seniors to facilitate growing membership and enthusiasm. Born in Austin, Texas, McGilvray has since accumulated a diverse geographic background. She majored in history at a small college in Maine, worked as a guidance teacher in Massachusetts, then began working for the elderly and focused on age studies in suburban Chicago, Ill. In the mid 1980s, she moved to Bainbridge Island and began her work in King County. When she is not involved with senior services, McGilvray enjoys mountaineering, reading to excess and attending the theater with her husband, Paul, who works with the federal Head Start Program in Oregon.The position at BISCC opened up for McGilvray when previous director Leigh Kennel resigned to work for the National Wildlife Federation in Seattle. McGilvray began working for the center on June 19, and said she has enjoyed a good reception by members. I've seen a wonderful atmosphere develop at many of the senior centers that I've worked for, McGilvray said. I was very impressed by the warm welcome that I received here. If they (the members) see a new face, they will make sure to talk to you right away and get to know you.BISCC was formally organized in the early 1980s, after local senior programs branched out of the park district and joined a local volunteer center.It was then formed into a non-profit organization devoted to the island's older residents.Today, BISCC has more than 700 members and receives most of its funding through the Bainbridge Foundation. Part of the reason the island attracts such a large community of seniors is because many have moved here to be closer to their children and grandchildren, McGilvray said. One of the goals of center is encourage these seniors to join the organization and become active in the community. Membership begins at age 55, but all ages are welcome to serve as volunteers and help out with the various programs.Activities at BISCC range from a photography club to chorale groups, to art and language classes - and, of course, bingo. The center also schedules a variety of day trips, and many members are outspoken supporters of the Seattle Mariners. McGilvray has made it her goal at BISCC to include events that will appeal to all kinds of interests. Even if seniors are not interested in the programs, she encourages them to come in and visit with each other over a cup of coffee. You do not have to come with a specific activity in mind, McGilvray said.There should not be a lonely senior on the island when there are friends waiting for them here. More information about BISCC, as well as a list of upcoming events, can be found online at bainbridgeseniors.org. "

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