Hi again from the Shawnee Senior Center.
I’ve been thinking about the list of people I have written about for this column.

Hi again from the Shawnee Senior Center.

I’ve been thinking about the list of people I have written about for this column. Some of them work at the center, some come to the center, and even some of the members of the board of directors for the center. I have, of course, spent many columns reminding you about the multitudinous things that go on at the center. And I just realized now that I have missed telling you about the one person who has been the glue that holds everything together here at the center. And, of course, that’s Ms. Kate Joyce, our cruise director.

So this column is going to be about her. And because it is about the center’s cruise director (executive director is her official title, but cruise director is her favorite) I need to start this story with the how the title cruise director came about.

As you all should know (because I ask you to listen in every column), Kate is on the air at KGFF Radio (FM100.9 or AM100.9) joining radio personality Mike Askins every Wednesday at 8:35 in the morning on the long time running “Mike in the Morning” show.

A little over a year ago it was decided by Kate and staff that the center needed to become better known in the Shawnee community.

If you remember way back then, we no longer wanted to be the “Best Kept Secret in Shawnee.” An invite to KGFF’s Mike Askins brought him to our center, where Kate took him on a tour and introduced him to the staff.

Mike was courteous and agreed to a weekly visit with someone from the center to talk about what goes on within its walls. Now all that had to be decided was who was gonna be our spokesperson. Kate positively agreed we needed one and also positively decided it was NOT gonna be her. To the rest of us it seemed like the perfect fit. The Director and the Radio Guy! Kate said talking to large groups were not her thing and it made her nervous. Staff said she could do it and they said that to her over and over again for the next week or so.

She finally agreed and said she would do the show once. The day came and the first “Mike in the Morning” show featuring Kate and the Shawnee Senior Center was on the air.

It went well. We were all impressed with Kate and Mike and the interaction between the two of them. Afterwards I, being the oldest and mouthiest one there, mentioned she didn’t sound like she had a problem at all talking on the radio and she said “That was because I was cruising in my car around downtown Shawnee the whole time I was talking to Mike and since my husband’s name is Mike and I talk to him on the car phone all the time, I forgot I was on the air.”

Of course, I had to mention that to “Mike in the Morning” and that next week the theme from “The Love Boat” TV show was the opening of the senior center’s moment in radio and has been ever since. And that’s the story behind the “cruise director” title. Just to keep you up to date, Kate no longer needs to drive around to talk on the air.

Now on to more things about the center’s cruise director.

Kate’s been at the center since June 27, 2005 – it was the gift she gave herself for her birthday that year! During that time, she has made many changes, like putting in the automatic door openers in the bathrooms which make it easier for elderly and handicapped seniors to use the facilities. She started the meals program after Project H.E.A.R.T moved from the center to its current location in south Shawnee. She added exercise programs specifically to reduce falls and prevent injuries among seniors and expanded them over the past several years. She has offered the senior center for projects like the veteran’s programs headed by Tom Smith to help vets get any benefits they are entitled to. The center is the home for groups like the Spinning Spools Quilt Group and the Square 8’s Dancing group. And there is now a greenhouse that is currently providing peppers and tomatoes among other things at the back of the center. This is the short list of the projects she’s worked on and now are part of the Shawnee Senior Center.

Kate, as I’m sure you’ve heard, is the primary fund raiser for the center through the writing of grants to get additional funding for the projects that the center has and allows the center to have so many things to do and all for free. (Just as an aside, Kate just received notice that the center is receiving a $50,000 grant from Walmart to help cover the cost of providing the healthy lunch of meat with veggies and dessert that the center has for only $2 per person.) And along with Shawnee Milling Company’s help, breakfast is always free. And we also don’t want to forget the free coffee.

At this time Kate is looking for additional grants that will enable the renovation of the former Project H.E.A.R.T. kitchen (the one off the back of the big Community Room) to allow for more dining area, better kitchen facilities, and commercial equipment to fill the space so it will make meals easier to plan and to produce.

In order to accomplish all of these things on her “wish list,” she has reorganized her office and has occasionally worked at the desk in the open area of the office/staff part of the front desk area. When she needs time to think and type and propose stuff she heads for the back part of her office behind the rather large monitor that divides the office in essentially two areas. And if she really needs time without interruptions she turns out the light and closes the door. I’m not saying she hides out in there; (because that wouldn’t be her choice of words) I am saying it’s easier to keep your train of thought if everyone thinks you are gone and it’s always amazing how much she can accomplish without interruptions!

Kate can get lots more done in her office but she still finds time to sit at the front desk when she can and visit with the people who come to be a part of the senior center family. If you’ve been there a time or two and told her your name, my guess is she will remember you because I’ve seen her do that many times.

Well, this is getting a little long and I may write more someday about our Cruise Director Kate Joyce, but enough for today.

I do want to tell you there is a 50s dance coming up on Aug. 11, to which everyone is invited and because everyone is invited the cost for anyone is only $5 per person. It will once again be at the municipal auditorium. Watch this space for more info as it gets closer to dance time!

And remember to listen to Cruise Director Kate Joyce visiting with Mike Askins “Mike in the Morning” on Wednesday mornings at 8:35 on KGFF Radio (FM 100.9 and AM 1450) for the latest info on what’s happening at the Shawnee Senior Center. I am always surprised at where the conversation goes on Wednesday mornings. And don’t forget to check out the music – you’ll love that “Love Boat” theme.

Come visit the Shawnee Senior Center where “50 is just a number,” and you can check us out on our Facebook account at “Shawnee Senior Center” or at our website ShawneeSeniors.org.

And, as always, see you at the center!