Senior center gets new director

BURGETTSTOWN – After nearly 25 years, Jan Springer, Burgettstown Area Senior Center director, is making her final bow.

Springer, who is retiring following the close of business Friday, will be turning over the reins to Angie Deal, who has worked at the Canonsburg Senior Center for eight years.

Springer came to Burgettstown Nov. 13, 1989.

“I remember everything about the first day,” she said, noting a party was being held and she was greeted with roses.

Springer has an extensive background in community service, beginning her career in 1973 as the social service coordinator for Washington Day Care under the auspices of the Washington County Community Action Council. She became involved with Head Start in 1981, earned a degree in child development from the University of Pittsburgh, and became a certified teacher of child development.

A Trinity High School graduate, Springer was raised by her grandparents, Percy and Luella Martin of Banetown, whom she credited with inspiring her love of service and people.

“My mother had a Scofield degree, and she used to stand at the door of the church and shake hands with everyone who came through the door,” said Springer. “When I was three years old, she’d have me stand there and shake hands.”

“It’s been a labor of love,” Springer said of her time at Burgettstown. “We had this building (the current senior center) built and paid for within two years. I’ve been welcomed to this community; if there was a need in any way, the community would fill it.”

Springer noted the center had been located at the current site of the Burgettstown Kids Center, adjacent to the Borough building.

“The borough, especially (Councilman) Dick Alvarez, bent over backwards for us,” said Springer.

She said she couldn’t choose any one favorite moment during her time in Burgettstown.

“All of it,” she said. “I haven’t had just one favorite moment, and I’ve had very, very few unpleasant experiences.”

Springer said she enjoyed the time she devoted to improving senior services in Burgettstown.

“I’m always taking calls at home,” she said. “I’ve never been a person to punch a time card – whatever it takes. There have been times when I’ve been ready to walk out (at the end of the day), and I’ve gotten a phone call. It’s not easy, but I enjoyed it.”

She said much of the success of the center is because of a devoted group of volunteers.

“There is a volunteer for every activity that goes on here,” she said. “All I need to do is ask – any volunteer would do anything for you if you ask.”

Springer said she would miss the center, especially those seniors whom she saw on a regular basis, but didn’t rule out dropping in from time to time.

“I’ll miss all of it,” she said. “I loved every minute of it.”

As for retirement plans, Springer said she was considering returning to a career as a professional pianist, noting her musical career had taken her to Heinz Hall.

“I don’t think I’ll do a lot of sitting around,” she said. “I’m the sort of person who has to be doing something.”

Deal, who has a degree in business management from California University of Pennsylvania, spent eight years in the Washington County Controller’s office, before deciding to seek a master’s degree in religion at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. In order to facilitate going to school at nights, she took a position as a cook in Canonsburg.

“I’m in the same position as Jan – I am going to miss everyone in Canonsburg so much,” she said. “Every day, when I came in at 8 a.m., they would greet me with a hug. They’d just line up and start hugging me.”

When she heard Springer would be retiring, she expressed an interest in the position.

“She’s going to be just fine,” said Springer. “She’s going to do a wonderful job.”

Deal said her interest in senior services goes hand-in-hand with her work as ruling elder with the Washington Presbytery, which enables her to fill in at the pulpit at churches where the pastor is absent.

“I love going to all these small churches,” she said. “So many of the congregations are elderly, and they have so many wonderful stories. They have so much experience and wisdom. I think older people have been portrayed in a negative light – they’re not with it – but that is a fallacy. They are just as sharp as a tack.”

Deal said the Burgettstown center is one of the best in the county, and she will focus on maintaining the programming and continuing to increase the attendance.

“Jan and all the volunteers have done such a wonderful job,” she said. “It wouldn’t be one of the best centers if not. I’m not looking to change a lot, just continue that good work. Hopefully, it will work out well. I’m very excited.”

The next event at the senior center will be the Valentine’s Day celebration from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. with entertainment by George Suhon.