Wanted: A director who has ‘flair’ with senior citizens

  • The South County Senior Center on North Main Street in South Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 8/16/2021 12:08:25 PM

SOUTH DEERFIELD — Town administrators in Deerfield, Whately and Sunderland hope the next leader of the Senior Center will bring about fresh ideas and be ready to make significant changes.

The administrators have finalized the job description, which will be posted after the South County Senior Center Board of Oversight finalizes the description and Deerfield’s Personnel Board approves it, Deerfield Town Administrator Kayce Warren said. The Senior Center’s previous director, Christina Johnson, resigned July 21 and Program Coordinator Sue Corey has been managing the center in the interim.

Whately Board of Oversight representative and Select Board member Jonathan Edwards said the person who takes the reins of the Senior Center needs to have the drive to make significant changes.

“We need sort of a visionary that is not afraid to stir the pot and be a change agent,” Edwards said. “(We’re) looking for someone who can and will think outside the box.”

Corey said the new director needs to have “fresh ideas and motivations” while also having the ability to work with seniors.

“They have to have that flair with seniors and know what their needs are,” Corey said. “The senior population is a particular population you have to deal with.”

Edwards added the current state of the Senior Center on North Main Street in South Deerfield, which remains closed and in need of renovations, cannot continue because the towns’ seniors deserve better.

“We all know our current situation is unsustainable,” he said. “We (the Board of Oversight) have fallen down.”

The board and town administrators agreed the minimum requirements for the job are an associate degree and two to four years of experience. Preference will be given to candidates who have a degree in elder services or social work because “elder services are becoming more complex,” according to Warren.

The annual salary will be set between $50,000 and $57,000.

Edwards said having lower requirements in the job listing allows someone who is passionate about seniors to apply for the job and not commit the rest of their career there.

“I have no problem hiring someone who lacks the experience. … I don’t want to close doors,” Edwards said. “Someone with just an incredible amount of energy. I don’t need somebody to be here for 10 years.”

Edwards said that kind of energy when facing the various obstacles in front of the Senior Center is the key trait they want to identify in a candidate.

“I hope we find someone who gets excited at the prospect,” Edwards said. “It’s a challenge.”

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