Drelick Bids Farewell to Senior Center

August 28, 2015

by Jay Hobson

After 14 years at the helm of the Salem Senior Center, Director Patti Drelick has left to care for her mother.

“My mother is not well, so I’m leaving to be able to spend more time with her, otherwise I would not be leaving.  It was really a hard decision to make,” Drelick said.

Her last day was Friday, Aug. 7, and many people stopped by from 10 a.m. to noon for a piece of cake and light refreshments and to wish her well and to meet Recreation Department Director Chris Dillon who will be replacing Drelick.

“I feel really fortunate to have had this job and looked forward to getting up every day and be with the people I love,” Drelick said.

Drelick said that in the beginning, 300 seniors utilized the senior services.  Now there are 2,700.  What started as 30 programs has grown to more than 200 for seniors to be involved in.  The center’s 187 volunteers are the ones “who make it work.”

“Because the center is funded with taxpayer money, Salem residents can utilize the center for free and, once registered, it lasts for life; we do have about 350 non-resident members and the fee to register for them is $45 per year,” Drelick said.

Drelick said that she will miss all the friends she’s made and may come back as a resident to use the center herself.

“One of the biggest challenges I faced was trying to please everybody, and of course, you can’t please everyone, but we certainly tried,” Drelick said.

Edna Dolan, Linda Burnett and Angelo Sarcione were enjoying some refreshments after wishing Patti well and all agreed that they will miss her.

“She was a very good organizer,” Dolan said.

“And very dedicated to people,” Sarcione added.

Recreation Director Chris Dillon will move his office over to the senior center from the municipal building and will be wearing two hats.

“The programming will be shifting to a part-time coordinator, but I’ll still be doing budgeting and all the other aspects of the center,” Dillon said.

Dillon said that he had spent a good part of the week at the center and had learned that it’s going to take a while to learn people’s names and to get up to speed with the programs that are constantly running.

“The schedule and special events are going to take some time to learn, but we’ll get there.  I’m looking forward to it,” he  said.