2018-02-15 / Front Page

Senior center sees change in leadership

BY RYAN GIBBS

They may share a last name, but the two newest faces at the senior center have more in common — their passion for the town’s largest demographic.

Senior coordinator Betsey Anderson and meal coordinator Carrie

Anderson began their jobs on West Street within six months of each other. The two women, who are not related, have been collaborating for three weeks as co-workers.

“Betsey’ s been an amazing addition to our team,” said Carrie, who was hired in September.

“We’re excited to see what she has planned going forward. She’s very enthusiastic and energetic about being here.”

Prior to her appointment last month, Betsey was assistant director for the senior center in North Kingstown, a position she had for nearly three years. She started as the kitchen supervisor, then became program coordinator before then named second-in-command. She said her favorite part of the job is interacting with seniors. While she misses the familiarity of the North Kingstown constituency, Betsey already is meshing with the Conanicut Grange guests.

“I’m feeling very welcomed here,” she said. “It’s definitely eased the transition from one job to the other.”

Betsey, 44, is a North Kingstown native who began working with seniors as a certified nursing assistant while in high school. She currently lives in East Greenwich with her husband, Peter, who is the school district’s maintenance director.

When the job opened following the departure of Ellen Vietri in the fall, Anderson applied because she wanted to leave her mark on a new community. Andy Wade, who oversees the senior center as the town’s recreation director, said Betsey stood out from other candidates because of her experience. He was impressed by her ability to implement programming, “which is exactly what we’re asking her to do here.”

“She worked her way through the ranks, and all those ranks really encompassed all the details of this job,” he said.

Betsey is the fourth director of the senior center. The late Charlotte Richardson led the center from its founding in 1992 until her retirement in 2014. She was then replaced by Annie McIntyre, who resigned in January 2015. Vietri was appointed four months later.

Apart from the size, Betsey said there aren’t any striking differences between the North Kingstown and Jamestown senior centers.

“The same types of programs are provided here, just at a smaller scale,” she said.

While Betsey is a newcomer, Carrie has been familiar with the town well before she was hired at the senior center. The 40-year old Philadelphia native has lived on the island for 11 years with her father and daughter, but she had summered in town since she was a child. In addition to her role at the senior center, Anderson is the aquatic director at the Newport Athletic Club in Middletown.

Carrie applied for the job so she could get to know the senior population in her hometown.

“I’ve become a part of their daily routine of coming in and having a nice meal,” she said. “I’m new to the food services industry, and I absolutely love it.”

During weekday mornings, Carrie and her crew receive the day’s meals from their caterer at 8:45 a.m. The hot lunches are then prepared for the senior center and Meals on Wheels.

“It’s busy from the get-go,” she said.

Although no food is made in the kitchen, Carrie makes suggestions to the caterer based on the taste buds of her customers.

Betsey said she already has noticed the rapport between Carrie and lunchtime regulars.

“The atmosphere down here is very welcoming,” Betsey said. “The seniors obviously enjoy engaging with her and vice versa. Being that the meal site is the core of the senior center, they’ve been impressed.”

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