Kramer takes helm at Ellsworth senior centerELLSWORTH - The Ellsworth Senior Citizens Center has a new director, but Ann Kramer certainly isn't a new face at the center.
By: Judy Wiff, The Republican Eagle
ELLSWORTH - The Ellsworth Senior Citizens Center has a new director, but Ann Kramer certainly isn't a new face at the center.
Kramer figures she started volunteering there in 2005, and about three years ago, she was hired part time to work at the center.
Now she is working as both senior center director and part time for the county as a site manager for Meals On Wheels.
"I hope to increase people's interest," said Kramer of her goal for the center. She added, "If some people are tired of the old things, we'll try new things."
She took over in April for Gloria Nelson, who was the director for 23 years.
"Gloria was the first person I met when I moved to town in 2003," Kramer said.
Kramer, a single mother, moved to Ellsworth looking for a nice small town in which to raise her son. While she found that, Kramer - who had worked in the floral industry and in social services as a counselor for teens and children - wasn't able to find a job that didn't require a long commute.
Nelson persuaded Kramer to volunteer at the senior center, and she especially enjoyed preparing special treats for events such as Valentine's Day and Veterans Day. One of her favorites was the Senior Prom she helped organize in 2007.
"That was a wonderful time," Kramer said.
The center offers "a warm atmosphere," Kramer said, noting everyone knows one another. It is open 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, and lunch is served there at 11:30 a.m. if people have called ahead to make reservations.
Kramer calls the regulars at the center "a precious little group."
"Seniors begin to feel displaced. Here at this place we give them TLC," she explained. "We pay attention to one another's needs."
As an example, if someone needs transportation to an event, another person will volunteer a ride, Kramer said.
"We bend over to make sure people can come to things," she said. "We're neighbors doing the neighborly thing."
Tuesday Club, a regular program for several decades, is especially popular. It starts with coffee and treats at 9:30 a.m., followed by socializing and usually singing and a speaker.
The month's birthdays are celebrated with a party at 1:30 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of each month. A volunteer hostess brings cake and there is a program. Euchre is played the first and third Thursdays of most months, and men meet frequently to play pool.
"This is a sweet place," Kramer said of her affection for the center in the lower level of the Ellsworth Public Library. "We've made it as pleasant as possible without remodeling."
She said space and finances limit what can be done, but some redecorating has been accomplished.
Fundraising is an ongoing responsibility, said Kramer. Fundraisers, open to the public, have included turkey dinners, salad luncheons and pancake breakfasts.
The board of directors would like to have a fundraiser every month and those are usually meals, Kramer said.
"I know people like to eat, but it overlaps with other things going on in the community," she said. She plans to try other things - one of those being a high tea in August, which Kramer encourages people to attend in costume.
The center has about 30 regulars, and numbers have dwindled over time. Part of the reason could be many seniors have moved into assisted living facilities having their own community centers, Kramer said.
"They're an endearing people," said Kramer of her core group. "I'm afraid we're not going to have that in the future."
She's also noticed not as many people are showing up at events designed to raise funds for the center.
"I think I'll just have to find more creative ways for fundraising," she said.