Tuesday, May 1, The Jean Bradford Kline Senior Center in Eaton Rapids came under the direction of a new director. Rita Honeysett, a former intern and volunteer at the senior center, took over for Deb Malewski, who was the director for three and a half years. Rita’s story of coming to work as the director of the senior center wasn’t as simple as having a connection and submitting an application.

Rita started her journey to the Eaton Rapids senior center when she worked in homecare for the elderly. While her hands worked to provide care and comfort older folks, her heart ached for their limitations. Rita knew too well from her experience that it’s the simple things that make the greatest difference in the lives of the elderly. A Friday haircut, a manicure, keeping track of endless medications, and other overlooked activities can make the day of anyone with limited mobility. Rita saw how important activities are for older folks, so she wanted to orient her work and career around keeping seniors active.

“There’s a whole generation of people that are finally needing help after helping others for so long. I thought there had to be a way to have a job where I advocate for those people,” said Rita.

The next in Rita’s journey involved going back to school, at the age of 60. Rita attended Baker College and earned her degree in human services. While working on her degree, she interned at Jean Bradford Kline Senior Center, under the direction of Deb Malewski. After graduation, Rita continued to volunteer at the senior center until Deb was ready to step down and hand the torch to the next director. Rita submitted her name for the position and stepped into the big shoes Deb left behind.

The senior center is much different than what Rita did previously in that she’s not working with the direct care of seniors. Instead she’s giving them the care of community interested and socializing.

“I like the fellowship here, and I like the support people give each other,” said Rita.

As Deb did, Rita wants her community to know how much happens at the senior center. It’s not just a place where folks “go to gossip,” but the senior center hosts trips, social hours, game nights, euchre tournaments, meals, and many other opportunities to get out of the house and spend time with new friends. And the center is not just for seniors either. There are activities and opportunities for people of all ages.

“I want people to see you have to get rid of preconceived notions of senior centers. You might really enjoy it and want to come back,” said Rita.

Moving forward, Rita hopes to carry on the legacy of Jean Bradford Kline, and others, who made the Eaton Rapids Senior Center become the hub of activity and fellowship it is today.

“My biggest self imposed challenge is to keep this place as a live and active as Jean Bradford Kline built it to be,” said Rita.

To learn more about Jean Bradford Kline Senior Center and the opportunities and activities offered there, readers can visit The Jean Bradford Kline Senior Center Facebook page, or eatonrapidsseniorcenter.com.