NEWPORT – After nearly 20 years of service to the Newport community, Peggy O’Callaghan, supervisor of the Newport 60+ Activity Center, retired last week, leaving the center in the hands of staff members and the community she has helped bring together over the past two decades.
“That’s how long I’ve been doing this dance, and honestly, I absolutely loved every minute of it,” O’Callaghan said. “It was a pretty sleepy senior center when I arrived, but it’s become an integral part of the community and people have really taken to it since then, 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 center’s non-profit organization, Friends. of the Center for 60+.
O’Callaghan started 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 occupied for the next 18 years.
One of the highlights of O’Callaghan’s career was facilitating the renovation of the main floor of the senior center and expanding its programming using the increased space and capacity. The remodeling was made possible in part by the sale of a somewhat risque calendar featuring members of the local community, which remained a tradition at the center for several years.
O’Callaghan said the remodel included a fitness room that made many of the center’s health and wellness programs possible, and those programs have proven to be some of the most impactful.
“We’ve done 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’re the only senior center in the country to receive recognition from the (Centers for Disease Control),” O’Callaghan said.
O’Callaghan said 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 says will continue into the future.
“The 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,” said O’Callaghan. “We 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 held about 40 to 50 trips and activities each year, although it has limited itself to virtual programs since being 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 act as acting supervisor until the city can find a replacement for O’Callaghan. Kecy said she will focus on expanding the center’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.