Director Katie Stirling Hopes to Grow Dexter Senior Center in 2013

The new director took over operations of the Dexter Senior Center in December.

With a new year comes a fresh face for members of the Dexter Senior Center.

Katie Stirling of Dexter, was appointed as the center's new director on Dec. 3, replacing former director Kim Martini, with her husband in 2012.

Stirling, 22, is a graduate of Michigan State University, and has a bachelor's degree in health studies with a minor in sociology.

"'I'm excited to be here," she said. "Dexter has a great center that was run well. I am definitely looking forward to bringing in new members, new ideas and fundraisers to grow our programs."

Prior to her appointment, Stirling served as a home health intern assisting seniors with in-home care, and as an event coordinator for the Ann Arbor Senior Center. During her time at the center, she said she developed a unique respect for seniors and decided to pursue a career that could help seniors enjoy their retirement.

Since taking over the Dexter Senior Center, Stirling said she has been busy overseeing the daily operations of the center, meeting with the center's 340 members, and organizing events and fundraisers for the upcoming year.

"We're looking to add a new fundraiser this year and a few new weekly programs," she said.

As a 401(c)3 nonprofit, the center relies completely on donations and fundraisers, including its annual pretzel sales during the Webster Fall Festival, a purse and jewelry sale, and the annual craft bazaar during the Home for the Holidays winter festival.

Recently, center members created a weekly scrap-booking group and are in the process of starting a senior center choir.

"I'm learning that our members have a lot of skills just by talking with the seniors," Stirling said. "If there is something they enjoy doing, I want to be able to make it happen."

In addition to the new programs, Stirling said the center is going through several aesthetic changes, as well. Dexter Boy Scout Andy McWilliams is painting the center's bathrooms and installing new storage cabinets this week, and new tables and chairs will be delivered this month to accommodate the center's growing membership.

"We wanted to do something nice to keep the building inviting and hopefully bring in more people," Stirling said.

Board member Jim Reisinger said he is looking forward to working with Stirling throughout the coming year.

"It's like a stepping stone. Just like when Kim started, this is the beginning of a new era," he said. "Katie's experience is a good fit for the center's growth."

When she's not busy planning the center's weekly events, Stirling said she enjoys meeting with the local seniors.

"Everyone has been amazing. They are friendly and very welcoming," she said. "I'm learning who does what, and how not to step on any toes.

"I like feeling like I'm part of something that is important to Dexter. It's nice to feel that sense of community."

For information on the senior center's programs and membership, call 734-426-5397.


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