By LOU ANN PIOLI

It is with a heavy heart that I’ll be bidding farewell to a most amazing and wonderful group of people who have, in four years, become my second family. December 31 will be my final day in my role at the helm of the Essex Area Senior Center, a role I have embraced with passion, heart, joy and enthusiasm, and one that I will never forget.

I’ve been blessed with the absolute best volunteers a person could wish for, who willingly and tirelessly worked alongside me to keep the Center and the Senior Vans running smoothly. I had the enviable fortune of caring, supportive co-workers in the Village office who welcomed me from day one and treated me as one of their own. I’ve been honored to work among the most selfless, caring senior van drivers imaginable. I was gifted with many new friendships which undoubtedly will last the rest of our lives. I was privileged with countless opportunities to meet and network with other Center directors and workers from so many agencies, government entities, schools, and businesses all committed to helping and supporting seniors. This position has never been a “job” to me. It was my vocation. Leaving is undeniably bittersweet.

The philosopher Heraclitus maintained that “The only thing that is constant is change-”, and those of us who have lived long enough certainly know the truth in those words. And, in some instances, it takes a change to make a change.

I’ll be ushered into the new year as a retiree on a new adventure, which will allow me more time with my nearly-99-year-old Dad and the rest of my family. My many friends at the Senior Center will still see me on occasion as a fellow member enjoying a meal or special event. I’m looking forward to the continued laughter and hugs!

I cannot adequately express my gratitude to all those who have enriched my life and filled my heart during my tenure at EASC. Please continue to nurture the warm, welcoming environment we created together that has made our Center so remarkable and successful.

And, of course, a few reminders about upcoming events: Members Only New Year’s Potluck will be Monday, December 31 beginning at 11:30. We’ll also celebrate December birthdays and bid farewell to those who are leaving. Admission is a dish to share. The Center will be closed on January 1 and 21, so please remember to reserve the senior van on December 31 for January 2, and on January 18 for January 22. The next senior luncheon will be an outing at JP’s on Wednesday, January 9. Tickets are required. New January programs include a “Paint and Sip” (non-alcoholic) on January 16, and a 4-session Weaving Workshop. We still have some seats available for our spring trip to Proctor’s Theater in Schenectady, NY to see “Phantom of the Opera”. Please visit our website at www.essexvtseniors.org for details on these and other events and activities. Essex Area Senior Center is located at 2 Lincoln Street, the white annex to the Village municipal offices. Call 876-5087 for information.