Jenny Walsh is stepping down as director of the Reynoldsburg Senior Center after 24 years, but she's not going too far -- she plans to keep working part time with seniors.
enny Walsh is stepping down as director of the Reynoldsburg Senior Center after 24 years, but she's not going too far -- she plans to keep working part time with seniors.
"It has been such a great journey and a great life," she said.
A party of about 200 seniors, volunteers and friends gathered with Walsh Dec. 17 at Berwick Party House to celebrate her retirement during a holiday luncheon.
"I had a wonderful time at the party," she said. "I always do a song for Christmas and all of our groups did something, so we sang and performed for two hours."
Walsh, 64, will serve her last day as director of Senior Citizens of Reynoldsburg (SCOR) on Dec. 31.
"I still plan on working at the center for 20 hours a week," she said. "As you get older, you hope to let someone else make the big decisions. Besides, these people are my peers now, too."
She said Judy Doran, who has been working at the center for the past 13 years, will become director.
"Judy will be a great leader and is a great listener," she said.
Walsh said SCOR was founded in 1971 with a group of 25 people. By the time SCOR moved into the center at 1520 Davidson Drive in 1988, there were 300 members.
"I started May of 1988 and I was the only staff for seven years, as we grew to more than 1,000 members," she said.
She said 1,800 seniors are now registered at the center.
"The changes I have seen over the years are many," she said. "The older members had a sure retirement and worked hard and were ready to relax. The younger retirees don't have as good benefits and many work part time and come here when they can.
"People are people, whether they are 5 or 95," she said. "They have the same emotions. It has been so terrific to learn from them as well as serve them."
Walsh said she has been working with seniors in some capacity for the past 35 years. She began working part time in Grandview and Columbus, then full time at a center in Bexley.
She has been married to her husband, Denny, for 43 years and they have one son and two grandsons.
Walsh said she has learned a lot from the seniors at the center.
"I've been fortunate to know many World War II veterans and to listen to their stories and I have grown in learning how people cope with things in their lives," she said.
"If you work together on problems, it can take the sadness away. Many people come to the center with problems, but they make good friends, have a good time and learn to care about each other."
When visitors walk into the center, they see colorful quilts, murals and paintings.
"Everything you see in the center was made by seniors," Walsh said. "This is their center and they take ownership of it."
Walsh teaches exercise classes at the center and plans all of the trips.
"Judy Doran also teaches three different exercise classes," she said. "We really feel it is important to keep everyone moving in some capacity, so we offer two hours of exercise classes a day, sometimes more. We also have art classes every day, cards, trips and bring in speakers. We try to hit everything people would like."
She said the Reynoldsburg center is successful because it belongs to the seniors.
"We have had a huge number of new retirees, which is a great shot of enthusiasm for everyone here," she said. "I really believe everyone deserves all the extras we can give them."
Walsh said she plans to help out more with her grandkids and "will do a little more exercise on my own, but pretty much enjoy every day as a gift."
"I have been blessed with not only building a fabulous program here, but with building relationships that will last forever," she said. "This is my family and it has been a joy every morning to come and make their lives a little better. But they enhance mine a hundred times over."
Information about the senior center is available by calling 614-866-5890. Members must be at least 55 years old; the cost is $15 per year for Reynoldsburg residents and $20 per year for all others.