|Hale retires after 27 years as senior center director|
|Thursday, June 19, 2014 8:23 PM|
BY NANCY SPENCER
DHI Media Editor
“The most satisfying part of the job has been being able to help people that need help,” Hale said. “Older people are slow to ask for assistance and it was my pleasure to see they get what they deserve. They have supported the community and city and when it’s their turn, they need to be connected with programs for support.”
Longtime Delphos Senior Citizen Center, Inc., board member Rick Miller called Hale a “watch dog.”
“She ran a tight ship in order to make ends meet,” Miller began. “With county and state funding going down every year, through Joyce’s watchful eye we were able to keep services at the expectations we wanted.”
Hale’s job was not without challenges. Delphos lies in two counties, Allen and Van Wert, and the center serves residents from three (adding Putnam). That meant Hale had to travel to Van Wert and Lima agencies that assist seniors to get funding for programs and fulfill reporting obligations.
“I was always going somewhere to get what we needed,” Hale said. “A lot of help came from right here in Delphos.”
Hale remembers an instance when she visited a woman who lived alone and when they began talking, she realized the woman had no food and was sustaining herself on coffee, toast and soup made from water and ketchup.
“I asked her if it would be OK if I looked in her refrigerator and the only thing in there was a bottle of ketchup about one-third full,” Hale said. “I told her I’d like to get her some food. She said she was alright but I convinced her she needed it and it was available at a food pantry here in town. She finally relented.”
Hale also opened a few local eyes during her years at the senior center.
“I remember I was talking to a group of people and they told me, ‘We take care of our own’,” she said. “I remembered that woman who was eating ketchup soup and told one of the men there that I had a project for him. They didn’t know that was happening right here in their town.”
While at the helm of center, Hale has overseen all aspects of operation from chores, to outreach, to special activities and more. None of which would have been possible without her staff by her side.
“I have such a wonderful staff,” she said. “They are willing to do whatever it takes to make something work and assure our members are taken care of. When I started here, I was a one-woman show and I could have never provided everyone with what they needed.”
When Hale first took over the position, there was no meal site and vehicles were borrowed from other agencies to get members to doctor appointments and to run other errands. Today, the center has its own vans and offers a daily lunch and assistance with paperwork from Medicare and Medicaid to tax preparation.
The size of the center has grown under Hale as well. A garage was added to house the transportation fleet and renovations ensure the center is pleasant and welcoming for members.
All the while, Hale was fighting for every penny the center received.
“It seems like every time there are cuts, it’s to funding for the elderly,” she said. “It’s a shame that the people who have gotten us to where we are often get the short end of the stick.”
Office Manager Angie Goodwin said she is going to miss her mentor.
“Joyce got things done,” Goodwin said. “She headed the renovations and the addition of the garage and kept up with day-to-day issues. She has done a lot for this agency and we’ve learned a lot from her. She taught us how to treat our members and see to their needs and sometimes even anticipate them.”
Hale doesn’t have plans for life after retirement. She said she pretty much did the things she wanted as she went.
“Everybody’s busy but if you want to do it, you will,” she said. “There’s no reason to wait.”
She said she’ll enjoy spending time with her children and grandchildren but hopes she can still lend her expertise to the center in an advisory capacity.
“Joyce told me as we left her party that if we ever needed anything, to call her,” Miller said. “She has a lot of knowledge and she made the board’s job a lot easier because she kept up with the ever-changing state laws. You don’t see the dedication Joyce has given to this job very often. We were very fortunate to have her.”