FLINT TWP. — Pam Luna is ready, willing and able to take the helm of the Flint Township Senior Citizens Center on Graham Road.
Almost since she walked into the door as a volunteer nearly two years ago, she was in training for the position.
“I was hired first as like a recreation aide and then a little while after that I was asked by the previous director (Linda Moore) if I wanted to be her replacement when she retired” Luna said. “That is how it came about I became the assistant director.”
When Moore was let go last spring, Luna was the natural choice to take over on an interim basis, according to Jim McClung, chairman of the Senior Citizens Center Executive Board.
The board decided to evaluate Luna for a six-month trial, he said. They permanently promoted her to executive director last month.
When her hiring was announced at the Dec. 15 township board meeting, township Trustee Frank Kasle questioned why the position was not publicized in an effort to attract more candidates. But he added that he was not criticizing Luna’s credentials.
McClung’s response is that the center’s attorney told the executive board that they had the right to appoint from within.
He added that the Genesee County Senior Services Director supported Luna’s selection.
“What this job requires more than anything is compassion for the seniors,” McClung said. “This was mentioned by Lynn M. Radzilowski, down at the county, that was requirement No. One, as far as she was concerned,”
Luna said community response to her promotion has mostly been favorable.
“I feel that I have more supporters than naysayers, let’s put it that way,” she said.
Patrons have told her they like the direction of the center, how relaxed it is, and a comfortable place to come and meet friends and have a good time.
Luna, a retired General Motors worker, also finds it a good fit.
“It is just a wonderful job,” she said. “The seniors make me feel good. It is a happy place to come to every day.”
Before hiring in at the center, Luna served as a member of the senior citizens executive board and also spent time there through an affiliation with the Carman-Ainsworth softball program.
Girls on the C-A softball team would come to the center to help serve meals and also collected food for the pantry, she said.
Luna said new programs and activities are added to the center all the time and she plans to continue that. She’s brought back a hairstylist who comes in every other week. Maxwell Therapy is getting ready to start a Laugh Therapy program.
A parking lot rummage sale last summer was a new activity. More trips are being planned, especially for seniors who don’t want to go on the popular casino outings.
Last summer, a small group went to Port Huron for a dinner cruise and next summer they are hoping to take a group for a riverboat cruise on the Detroit Princess.
“A lot of people don’t know what we do and that is one of our jobs to get the word out, to let the people know, to let seniors know what they have available for them up here,’’ Luna said.
The goal is to meet the needs of senior whether it be companionship or help with meals, she said.
McClung is solidly behind Luna’s selection as the new director.
“The more the board looked at it, the more it made sense to do what we did,” he said. “She was hired by the previous director to succeed her when she left. She (Moore) was starting to train her. To bring in another person who didn’t work here or know anything about it did not make sense to the board.”
McClung has served on the center’s executive board since 2009.
“It is all about the seniors,” he said. “As long as we can make this a place they feel comfortable coming into … that’s what I am all about.”
Flint Township, which owns the building, and Carman-Ainsworth Schools jointly operate the senior center. The bulk of its funding comes from a senior millage which is managed by the county.