By Mathew Brock
From the News-Times
NEWPORT – After nearly 20 years of service to the Newport community, Newport 60+ Activity Center Supervisor Peggy O’Callaghan retired last week, leaving the center in the hands of the staff and the community that it has helped bring together over the past two decades.
âIt’s been how long I’ve been doing this dance, and honestly, I absolutely loved every minute of it,â O’Callaghan said. “It was a pretty sleepy senior center when I first arrived, but it has become an integral part of the community and people have really taken ownership since, which I do now too.”
For now, O’Callaghan plans to enjoy her retirement by kayaking and spending time with her family, but she said she wouldn’t mind getting involved with the center again in the future. as a board member of the centre’s non-profit organization, Friends. from the Center 60+.
O’Callaghan began working for the city in 2001 when she helped open the Newport Recreation Center, but took a year off before returning in 2003 to take the reins of the 60+ Activity Center, a position she she held for the next 18 years.
One of the highlights of O’Callaghan’s career has been to facilitate the remodeling of the ground floor of the senior center and expand its programming using the increased space and capacity. The remodeling was made possible in part by the sale of a somewhat risky calendar featuring members of the local community, which has remained a tradition at the center for several years.
O’Callaghan said the renovation included a gym that made many of the centre’s health and wellness programs possible, and those programs have proven to be some of the most impactful.
“We did a great job here and received a Distinguished Service Award from the (Oregon Recreation and Parks Association) for our How to Prevent Type II Diabetes Program, and we are the only senior center in the country to be recognized from the (Centers for Disease Control), âsaid O’Callaghan.
O’Callaghan said that most of what she has been able to accomplish over the past two decades has been made possible by a strong volunteer base and an active community, which she is confident will continue to carry on in the ‘to come up.
âThe 60+ Activity Center is here for the over 60 community, and it has thrived through its activities, travel, hiking, education, social interaction, health and wellness,â said O’Callaghan. âWe are truly a volunteer run agency and all of our instructors are qualified to teach, which is what we trained them to do. “
Before the pandemic hit, the center organized around 40 to 50 trips and activities each year, although it has limited itself to virtual programs since it was forced to close last year.
With O’Callaghan’s departure, the senior center will be in the hands of staff member Dee Kecy, who will serve as an interim supervisor until the city can find a replacement for O’Callaghan. Kecy said she will focus on expanding the centre’s virtual programming until it can reopen
Kecy said she expects the city to start looking for a replacement this summer and will hopefully hire a new supervisor before next fall.
To learn more about the 60+ Activity Center or to participate in its virtual programming, visit www.newportoregon.gov/dept/par/sc/.