About a year ago, Sue Hampshire resigned as director of First Call for Help in Tiffin. About two weeks ago, she worked her first day as executive director at Allen Eiry Senior Center in Tiffin.
"I had a little part-time job at Tiffin University for about fours months. That was kind of fun. It was in their call center, calling people who had indicated they were interested in the online courses, things like that. ... My fellow employees were a nice group of very young people," Hampshire said. "I thought, 'I'm just not quite ready to fully embrace retirement. While I'm still able to do something, I think I should work, at least part-time.'"
Then she saw a "blind ad" in the newspaper, seeking a full-time director for a non-profit agency. In responding, she learned it was Allen Eiry. Although she wanted part-time work, she decided to apply anyway.
During an interview, she and the center's board discussed reducing the number of work days to four. They agreed on an 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. schedule, Monday through Thursday, most weeks.
"I think it's going to work, and I think it's going to work well. We'll make it work," Hampshire said.
The interview was Hampshire's first visit to the center's new location on Hopewell Avenue, which is more accessible and visible than the former site on St. Francis Avenue. The large meeting room can be divided or opened to accommodate events, such as today's Fat Tuesday card party, and the smaller rooms are useful for stained glass, sewing and other activities.
"They've done a wonderful job with this place, and I think the location is good. For one thing, it's easy for people to find. ... I think it was probably a really good move for them," Hampshire said.
"My personal goals right now are to increase membership a little bit and we want to increase the funding in whatever ways we can. Contributions and donations are very much accepted so that we're financially strong. We want to enhance the programs we already have and add some new ones."
"I've really been amazed at the programs that are here and how well they're attended. The travel is just amazing. There's a lot of good craft activities, the bowling, the golf, when the weather gets nicer. ... There's a lot of card activity, and we've got the 'man cave' with the billiards. They love that, and Ron Pepper's stained glass program down there is just beautiful. There's a lot going on, and every day, I think I learn a little bit more about either a new program or about the programs that are here."
A computer demonstration is set for 10 a.m. March 15 at the center. Instructor Gary Smith from Smith Insurance is to show participants some of the useful features on the computer and also how to operate Kindle and Kindle Fire. Hampshire said Smith also will allow time for questions.
A native of Findlay, Hampshire moved to Tiffin in 1978 and became involved in volunteering for FISH while caring for a pre-schooler at home. Her volunteer experience paved the way for some paid positions with non-profit groups in the community. She said the opportunities presented themselves to her and have occupied her since.
"I didn't set out looking for another non-profit. We just kind of found each other," Hampshire said of her new post at Allen Eiry.
In addition to funding from the United Way, the center relies on donations and grants, which Hampshire plans to continue writing. As grant funds diminish, she will be seeking other sources of revenue. She said her first two weeks have been enjoyable.
"Everybody has been very nice and very welcoming, and very friendly. I'm just amazed at this organization. I thought I knew everything about it, but I don't. I'm learning," Hampshire said.
Connie Blaser, who had been serving as interim director, said she is "tickled pink" Hampshire has come on board.
"She has a lot of experience that will be good for us," Blaser said.
To learn more about the Allen Eiry Senior Center, stop at 28 Hopewell Ave. or call (419) 448-9774.