Connie Smith didn’t hesitate when offered the job as director of the McMinnville-Warren County Senior Center.
“I packed my clothes in the car and drove down here right away,” said Smith, who was living in Lexington, Ky. “I didn’t even have a place to stay. So far I’ve been staying with friends.”
Smith took over as Senior Center director on June 24, replacing longtime director Cheryl Mingle. Smith had been in the assisted living industry for more than 20 years and decided she was ready for a change.
“I wanted to become involved with more vivacious seniors who still have a lot to give and still have a lot to do,” said Smith. “The people who come here are independent. The goal is to keep them active and alive. I want to address senior needs before they are forced to have so much assistance.”
Smith, a widower of eight years, has family in Coffee County. She learned about the position when it was posted and decided she would apply.
The Senior Center typically serves residents from 70 to 80 years old. Smith said she would like to increase participation to make it more of a 60- to 80-year-old demographic.
“I have a bunch of ideas,” she said. “I’d like to start a kayaking program because we have such wonderful opportunities for that right here. And we’ve already started a program to teach seniors about Facebook, tablets and smartphones. A teenager comes in and works with them and it’s been really popular.”
Smith says she has some new ideas, but she isn’t going to come in and change established programs already in place. She said regular exercise routines are held Monday, Wednesday, and Friday with classes starting at 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
“We had 45 in exercise class today,” she said Friday afternoon.
Another established offering that’s gaining steam is called Picking and Grinning. It’s held every Tuesday at noon for people who want to show their musical talent.
“We want to encourage everyone to come out and bring their instruments and their voices,” said Smith.
She also talked about line dancing at night and other programs to get people active with the Senior Center.
In addition to Smith, the Senior Center has two part-time employees. They are assistant director Vickie Derriso and program coordinator Diane Bond.
Smith said the Senior Center is constantly in need of volunteers to help conduct its programs. To find out more information, call 473-6559.