More than a quarter of a century in corporate finance and years of dedicated volunteer service make Joanne Conlin a great fit for any nonprofit. The Payson Senior Center is the lucky recipient of Conlin’s expertise. She became the Center’s direct Sept. 14.
Conlin took over the post after Reed Cox’s resignation this summer.
“Reed was an outstanding executive director with all he did for the Center and that’s going to continue. He left me with a wonderful place to come into,” Conlin said.
Before taking over the Center’s administrative reins, Conlin was on its board of directors for about two years. She is also treasurer for the Humane Society’s board of directors and served on the board of the Irish Cultural Center in Phoenix for many years.
“When the opportunity came up (at the Senior Center) it was where my heart wanted to be. I can’t say how thrilled I am to be part of it in this way,” said Conlin, who has made her home in Payson since 2003 and visited the area since the 1990s.
She said she is moving forward with things Cox and the board put in place and looking into ways to expand what the Center does.
Conlin said she feels the role the Center plays in the lives of the area’s seniors is especially important in keeping them connected socially, providing them with a sense of community and family.
“We’d like to draw more seniors into the Center and especially reach out to those who are isolated. The saddest thing is for an isolated senior to think they’re all alone.”
To that end, Conlin wants to further develop the Center’s outreach programs. Currently the Center provides the Meals on Wheels program in Payson, the congregate lunches at the facility’s dining room, transportation services, plus a variety of activities.
Conlin said those activities will be expanded some after the first of the year: she will be teaching a computer class at the Center and the members will be presenting their quarterly pancake breakfasts again.
Conlin said she is still learning, talking and listening to what the members of the Senior Center want and need. She also hopes to meet with other Rim Country providers of senior services to see what is available and what can be done to reach more of the area’s older residents.
She said she would also be seeking grant money to help fund the Center’s work.
Conlin said the staff and volunteers at the Center are a treasure. “They are a group of hardworking, committed people who care very deeply in what they do. We are very grateful they have chosen to volunteer (and work) at the Senior Center.”
The Center has a new cook too. Tim Hilgendorf came on board in early October and is already spoiling the seniors, volunteers and staff with his homemade bread, Conlin said.
To enjoy the bread and the rest of the meal, call 24 hours in advance for a lunch reservation at (928) 474-4876. Meals are served at noon, Monday through Friday and cost $3 for those 60 and older and $5 for those under 60.
The Payson Senior Center is located at 514 W. Main St.