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New center director has experience with seniors

July 27, 2004|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - Sondra Weaver came well-qualified to her job as manager of the Greencastle Senior Activities Center, said the woman who hired her.

"We had a good feeling about Sondra," said Margaret Bream, director of the eight Franklin County senior activity centers.

Weaver, 39, has worked with seniors in a variety of positions over the years.

"We had good reports on her," Bream said. "She has a genuine desire to work with the population. It's a big plus to have her. She's enthusiastic, has caught on quickly and has a good handle on what we need."

Weaver, who started at the Greencastle center in May, succeeded Helen Bitikofer, who retired after more than nine years on the job.

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Weaver lives in the Shade Gap area just over the Franklin County, Pa., line in Huntingdon County, about a 45-minute commute to Greencastle - a scenic drive she said she enjoys.

Her experience in working with seniors includes a six-year stint as activities director at Menno Haven ElderDay in Chambersburg, Pa. She also worked for the Franklin County Human Resources Department and the Huntingdon County Area Agency on Aging. Weaver is pursuing a degree in sociology at Wilson College in Chambersburg.

Her duties as manager include planning trips and coordinating meals - about 35 home-delivered meals daily and another 40 or so served at the center. She does the newsletter and all the record keeping required by the county.

Depending on the season, 50 to 65 seniors show up at the center every day for meals and to take advantage of its many programs.

Among them are exercise programs, ceramics, oil painting, crafts, games and cards, as well as the computer lab. She organizes marketing campaigns to promote the center. Encouraging seniors to come to the center is a big part of the job.

"Planning and organizing are my best strengths," Weaver said.

She likes working with retired people, she said.

"They're more independent and outgoing, and they have active lifestyles," Weaver said. "It's nice being around people who are relaxed and live at a slower pace, and it's nice hearing their life stories. I learn a lot."

Weaver said she organizes programs that appeal to younger retirees who are more active than they were generations ago.

Bitikofer had a bit of advice for Weaver.

"She should keep doing the activities that people like to do. Retirees are younger today. They want to exercise, eat healthy and learn computers," said Bitikofer, 61.

The seven other senior activity centers in the Franklin County system are in Chambersburg, Fort Loudon, Mont Alto, Path Valley, Tuscarora, Upper Strasburg and Waynesboro.

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