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New direction for center director

May 26, 2010 - After 11 years as Independence Township Senior Center Director, Margaret Bartos has decided to step down.

"It's just time," Bartos said, whose father recently passed away. "I'm not going to really retire. I just need some time off to collect myself see what else I want to do."

Bartos said she is proud of some of the things she was able to accomplish with her time here - one being the new Senior Center, which originally failed in two millage proposals.

"We were going for a community center originally because that's where things are going, but the community wouldn't support that," she said. "We just went smaller and smaller until they found money for this building, which we would have hoped to added onto and that still may happen."

She noted the building is almost completely furnished. The desks, computers, file cabinets, accordion door, tables and chairs, and blinds were purchased through block grant money.

"That was quite an exercise, just the whole move of this building and everything was a quite a group activity," she said. "Everybody pitched in and was a very good team."

After getting a degree in Gerontology (the study of aging) from Madonna University in 1994 Bartos was able to see the Independence Township Senior Center was "very much behind the times" and set out on the challenge to change it and bring it up to date.

"We updated all the programming and philosophy of aging, so hopefully they look at aging more positively," she said. "They're not afraid to admit they're 55, 60, and 65 years old."

She attributes much of the success to her volunteers and staff members who she says due to cuts some have "fallen by the wayside."

"We have some very talented, skilled, hardworking and dedicated staff that worked very well together," Bartos said. "We've had a very good team of people all ages."

Bartos is also glad she was able to bring the Senior Advisory Committee, which was "very low key" by adding younger, more active people with more diversified experiences and skills.

"They're quite a political force in the community. They speak for the older residents in the community," she said. "Also proud we have our new 'Friends of the Independence Township Senior Adult Activity Center,' a 501C3 organization, which is an offshoot of the senior advisory. The thought is people are more likely to give to a 501C3 rather than any township."

She also noted she was happy about the new handicap assessable garden.

Bartos grew up in Northern Virginia. She graduated in from William & Mary with a Bachelor's in history and started out as a history teacher.

"The kids called me a Yankee school teacher," she said.

After getting married she lived in six different states. Her husband worked for the auto industry. They have three children. Marybeth lives in Rochester Hills, working for a small school, does freelance writing and voiceovers. Greg lives in Miami and is a pilot for American Airlines, and Gary who lives with his wife Mickey in Boston.

Bartos later went on to get her Associates Degree in business from Oakland Community College.

"As far as activities I was always involved in the schools and I got involved with older people as soon as my baby went out the door for first grade. I always wanted to work with older people," she said.

"I had one grandparent I only saw a few times when I was growing up and I think that's a big gap for a person."

She started out in Pennsylvania with "Meals on Wheels" and was very active the nursing home as a volunteer. When she moved back to Michigan in 1983 she worked for the "Older Person's Commission and Outreach" in Rochester for two years as well as programming for two years. She returned seven years later to become the assistant director, as well as a year at Botsford hospital in Farmington Hills.

Bartos said she is very thankful for all the sponsors and churches that allowed them to use space when they didn't have enough room.

"I've enjoyed relationship with a lot of members of the community," she said. "It's a very tight knit community."

However, Bartos said she will miss the people the most.

"The staff, the seniors, the senior advisory people the volunteers, and I'm going to miss the park," she said. "What am I not going to miss is getting up at 5:30 a.m., the traffic on M-59, and (working) long hours."

Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.
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