Busy Mount Si Senior Center is re-emerging and thriving
May 30, 2012
By Sebastian Moraga
Paid human membership, way up. Unpaid rat membership, way down.
It’s life at the Mount Si Senior Center, after six months under the direction of BJ Libby.
“We had mice and rats,” she said of her first days at the helm. “I set the traps myself.”
A half-year later, she declares her center’s four-legged guests a thing of the past. The rats are dead, she said, but the center has come alive.
Waltz lessons, two-step lessons, exercise groups, field trips, even a talent show and a golf tournament are either happening or in the works for the center.
“We’re moving forward,” Libby said.
It has not always been easy, she said. The learning curve was steep. Longtime program director Janet Fosness was fired and replaced by Paula Edwards. And with gas prices up, the budget got a little slimmer.
“I get sick to my stomach when I sign a check for $8,000 to pay for the gas that we use in our buses,” she said. “We are looking for ways to reduce that.”
The center’s floors need “a little TLC,” she said, and the center needs an ADA-compliant front door and new windows.
Challenges aside, she said, the seniors motivate and inspire her.
“I’ve had those days when I say, ‘What the heck am I doing here?’” she said. “Then a senior will pop in and give me a hug.”
Libby said that she found her second passion at the center. Center members seem to agree with her.
O.J. Hjelt said the center is the “best ever” since Libby took over. Member Sandra Guthrie agreed, highlighting the center’s friendly atmosphere.
Hjelt, Libby said, told her the center had a lot of talent within its walls. Libby said she agreed with him. Before they knew it, a talent show was born.
The July 21 show will have as its closing number a rap prepared by Chuck Smith, of school-bus-safety-song fame, and performed by the seniors. The event will be open to the public.
“It’s going to be called the Rockin’, Swingin’ Singin’ seniors,’” Libby said.
The business side also has some important days ahead, the 2013-15 transportation grant from the state is out in August. Other dates are just as important, she said.
On Sept. 28, an idea of Libby’s since before she took over the center will occur: a fundraising golf tournament. The center is still looking for sponsorships.
“We need money,” she said. “We need it to get the building up to speed.”
Even if the coffers are light, Libby said, things will keep happening. An attorney will give a lecture about avoiding computer scams, the King County Sheriff’s Office will send someone to talk about home safety and answering or not answering the door, and a pertussis (whooping cough) vaccination clinic might find its way to 411 Main Ave. S.
All in the name of keeping our eldest citizens active, happy and safe.
“I have a really deep bond and connection with the seniors,” Libby said. “I work for them.”
Sebastian Moraga: 392-6434, ext. 221, or firstname.lastname@example.org.