Grovetown Senior Citizens Center Director Betty Laverty is retiring, but she has no plans to slow down.
“I’m not going home to sit in my rocking chair,” Laverty said. “I still have plans. I want to go places. I want to do things I haven’t been able to do.”
Laverty began working at the center in July 2001 and was hired as the director in October 2001.
Since then, Laverty, 78, has shared in the lives of the senior members of the center.
“They asked me what I was going to do,” Laverty said. “I said, ‘I’m going to play bingo everywhere like y’all.’”
Laverty said she also wants to spend time with her daughter and three grandchildren who live in Tennessee.
Laverty has left a mark on the center. When she started, the only equipment there was office equipment. She applied for grants for the popular daily bingo games, exercise equipment and a big-screen television for the donated Wii.
“I was lucky, I think, when I got the first (grant),” Laverty said.
“It inspired me and encouraged me to try for more.”
The center operates mostly on donations and volunteers, Laverty said, adding that she’s grateful for the city’s support.
Seniors over 60 who live in or near the city come to the center on weekdays for lunch and activities.
It’s their “home away from home,” Laverty said.
“We’ve got several of them that wanted to play cards so bad, I started to open on Saturday to let them come and play cards.”
Center volunteers deliver hot meals to five homebound Grovetown seniors daily and deliver a five-day frozen meal pack to three others.
Laverty’s replacement, Jennifer Thomas, started on Nov. 15 and has been busy training for numerous required certifications.
“I have some big shoes to fill,” Thomas said. “They are breaking me in.”
Laverty said her retirement was precipitated by some health problems and surgery last year. She’s healthy, but the concerns remain.
“That made me think a lot about what I wanted to do,” Laverty said. “I love the center. I love the seniors.”
Thomas said transportation is one of the amenities she hopes to add to the center at the first of the year.
Columbia County donated a van to the center, but there was no one to drive it. A new assistant, Gary Stewart, just started and can drive it.
“We actually have the van ready for pick-ups,” Thomas said. “That’ll be the first thing that we’ll be doing.”
Laverty anticipates missing the people and the place.
“I’m going to miss it really bad,” Laverty said. “That’s why I know I’ve got to keep busy. Because if not, I’ll be coming back up here wanting to sit in the front row (for bingo).”
Just because Laverty has a full retirement itinerary doesn’t mean she won’t be around the center.
“I’ll be here for the Christmas party.”