By Mathew Brock
Of the News-Times
NEWPORT — After nearly 20 years serving the Newport community, Newport 60+ Activity Center Supervisor Peggy O’Callaghan retired last week, leaving the center in the hands of the staff members and community she helped bring together over the last two decades.
“That’s how long I’ve been doing this dance, and honestly, I really loved every minute of it,” O’Callaghan said. “It was a pretty sleepy senior center when I first came in, but it just became an integral part of the community and people have really taken ownership of it since, which I do too now.”
For now, O’Callaghan plans to enjoy her retirement by going kayaking and spending some time with her family, but she said she wouldn’t mind getting involved with the center again in the future as a board member for the center’s nonprofit organization, Friends of the 60+ Center.
O’Callaghan began working for the city in 2001 when she helped open the Newport Recreation Center, but she took a year off before returning in 2003 to take the reins at the 60+ Activity Center, a post she held for the next 18 years.
One of the highlights of O’Callaghan’s career was facilitating the senior center’s downstairs remodel and expanding its programming using the increased space and capacity. The remodel was made possible in part by the sale of a somewhat risqué calendar featuring local community members, 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 proved to be some of the most impactful.
“We’ve done some great work 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 nation to receive recognition from the (Centers for Disease Control),” O’Callaghan said.
O’Callaghan said most of what she’s been able to accomplish over the last two decades was made possible by a strong volunteer-base and active community, which she is confident will keep going well into the future.
“The 60+ Activity Center is here for the 60-plus community, and it has thrived on its activities, trips, hikes, education, social interaction and health and wellness,” O’Callaghan said. “We’re really a volunteer-driven agency, and all our instructors are qualified to teach, which we’ve had them trained for.”
Before the pandemic hit, the center was holding around 40-50 trips and activities each year, though it has been limited to virtual programs since it was forced to shut down last year.
With O’Callaghan’s departure, the senior center will be in the hands of staff member Dee Kecy, who will serve as interim supervisor until the city can find a replacement for O’Callaghan. Kecy said she’ll be focusing on expanding the center’s virtual programming until it can reopen
Kecy said she expects the city will begin looking for a replacement this summer and will hopefully hire a new supervisor before next fall.
To learn more about the 60+ Activity Center or to participate in its virtual programming, go to www.newportoregon.gov/dept/par/sc/.