Coreen Jones, Brick Leever and Ralph Dapar love to be around people. And they like to stay active. That’s why they volunteer every week at the Kent Senior Activity Center.
But none of them expected to be an award winner at the Senior Center Volunteer Appreciation Tea May 15 at the center.
Jones, 72, was named the Kent Lions Club Senior Citizen of the Year. Leever, 85, received the Senior Center Longevity Award. Dapar, 77, was chosen as the Senior Center Volunteer of the Year.
“I was just about speechless,” Jones said. “I’ve only been in the state for a few years.”
Fellow volunteers nominated the three for the awards. Senior center staff picked the winners based on their involvement and commitment to the community. There are more than 200 volunteers at the senior center.
Jones, who moved to Kent from Oklahoma after her husband died in order to be closer to her daughter, has a long list of volunteer work that earned her the Lions Club award for work at the senior center as well as out in the community.
That volunteer work includes jobs at her church, at a elementary school, transporting people to shopping and medical appointments, service in the deli and cafe at the senior center and her secretary role on the Kent Senior Advisory Board.
Terry Rottkamp, a neighbor of Jones and also a volunteer, introduced Jones to the senior center.
“I love people and I like to help people,” Jones said. “That’s the main reason I volunteer.”
Jones, a retired administrative assistant with the federal government, also works out five days a week at the Senior Center fitness room.
“I lift a few weights,” she said.
Leever volunteered for more than 20 years at the senior center before he and his wife moved in February from Kent to Everett to live closer to two of their children. He started to volunteer with softball, volleyball and other sports in the 1980s.
“I wanted something to do to keep busy, so I came here,” said Leever, a retired office-products salesman. “I worked at the coffee bar and that’s where I’ve been every Friday for the last 20 years. I just love this place. It’s like home.”
Leever also served on the advisory board and helped in the deli and cafe when needed. He didn’t expect any type of longevity award.
“I was just one of the guys,” Leever said. “An award is not necessary. But they wanted to do it and I was proud to accept it.”
Dapar has lived in Kent about a dozen years. He volunteers with the deli and cafe, the advisory board, the coffee bar, the weekly Tai Chi video program, the karaoke program and the Wii program.
Dapar started to come to the center with his father-in-law before each started to work in the cafe.
“I kept coming twice a week in 2000 and I’m still doing it,” said Dapar, a retired Boeing engineer.
The ability to meet new friends kept Dapar coming back to the center.
“I look at the older citizens here and they have a wealth of knowledge and talent,” Dapar said. “That motivates me to come here and meet them. We have some 90-year-olds who are fun to talk to. We talk about our past. That’s all we’ve got.”
Just as his fellow award winners, Dapar couldn’t believe staff picked him for the honor.
“It was a total surprise,” he said. “I had no idea. A friend said I was nominated, but I paid no attention. There are so many people who deserve the award over myself.”
To learn more about activities at the Kent Senior Activity Center, visit www.ci.kent.wa.us/senioractivitycenter, or call 253-856-5150.
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