For more than 20 years, Senior Center Supervisor Sue Frank has made thousands of people feel right at home. Frank has made each person feel loved, accepted and part of one big family at the Gulfport Multipurpose Senior Center.
“When I put the key in the door, its like going into your own house,” she said.
That’s because the center has become more than a building, a gathering place, a community space . . . it's become a home away from home for many, including Frank.
"It's been fun and rewarding," Frank added.
Over the years the center has hosted fundraising events, community classes and celebrations, many of which would have never been possible if not for Frank’s vision and passion.
Noted for hardly ever saying "No," it’s that dedication that helped shape the Gulfport Senior Center Foundation. Ten years ago, Frank, along with Jane Ogilvie and volunteers decided to form the foundation, so they could continue improving the center and its services.
Since then, the center has become one of only 11 nationally accredited senior centers in the entire state and a Community Focal Point designated by the Area Agency on Aging of Pasco-Pinellas, Inc.
However, the time has come for Frank to spend even more time with her family and 18-month-old granddaughter.
“What a joy it has been for me. I was just lucky to be a part of it,” Frank said.
Frank not only welcomed friends and neighbors with her vibrant smile and open arms but she turned that passion into action, creating the fitness center and creating the foundation.
Just recently, the center added a memorial wall for people to honor and remember loves ones.
“We did it together as a team,” Frank stated at her retirement celebration on Oct. 5.
Friends, coworkers and volunteers say she will be missed, but they’re confident the new supervisor will continue the already stellar reputation.
“She’s a calming force. She cares deeply about everyone,” Jerry Anne Hindman said.
“She’ll be greatly missed,” GEMS Driver Peter Amabile said.
“She was one of us. You could talk to her and listen to her,” Lorraine Babus said.
Although friends will miss Frank they're confident the center is in good hands. Technical Events Specialist Gail Biron has been named the new Senior Center Supervisor.
"I'm extremely excited to be able to be in a role to continue to help people is a great experience," Biron said.
Biron is looking forward to using her skills from her former position to increase the center's social media presence. Her ideas include, possibly, creating a Facebook page and working more with seniors about logging online.
"I want to know how many seniors are using the Internet," Biron added.
One of the first items of business may be a survey, Biron said. "What can we do to make them feel more comfortable using the Internet."
Biron has been with the City of Gulfport for the past decade, first starting out at a staff assistant with the Recreation Department before being promoted to Techinical Events Specialist.
"There couldn't have been a better choice," Jerry Anne Hindman said, referring to Gail Biron's new role.
For more information about The Gulfport Multipurpose Senior Center Foundation, check out their website or email email@example.com. You can also call (727) 893-2237 or (727) 893-1231.