NAPPANEE — The accolades were coming from all over at an impromptu retirement party held Dec. 30 for Connie Fink, Elder Haus Senior Center director.
From the seniors who frequent the center in Nappanee to her employees, to the mayor who presented Fink with the key to the city — all spoke about what a treasure she is and how much she’ll be missed.
“She’s a very kind and wonderful person and she’ll be missed,” said Doris Hoffman, who has been frequenting the center for a couple of years.
Her employees agree.
Max Bigler, who retired this year after being an Elder Haus van driver, was present for the party. “We came the same year and I guess we’re leaving the same year,” Bigler said and spoke of how often Fink came to see him when he was in the nursing home. “She’s been a gem to work for. She was after me to retire for a couple of years. I appreciate her a lot.”
Changes over the years
Fink started working at the Elder Haus as a part-time assistant director 15 years ago. She said when former director Dee Leavitt called her about the job she was babysitting her grandchildren and working a couple of days a week in a retail shop.
“I’d never really thought about working with seniors before,” Fink said.
But Leavitt encouraged her to give it a try and the hours were flexible. Two years later when Leavitt was ready to retire, Fink was offered the position of director.
“By that time I loved it so I thought I would try full-time work,” she said.
At that time the senior center (along with the Masonic Lodge) was located in one of the historic Coppes homes along Market Street. It wasn’t the best location as it wasn’t handicap-accessible and parking was limited. So when city officials decided to buy the old Central School building and make it a multi-use building, the senior center was relocated. The building is also home to senior apartments, the Boys & Girls Club and The Crossing School.