On May 4, Leslie Wilson, the Levy Senior Center's popular program director, retired. We sat with her to ask about her time at the Levy Senior Center.
How many years have you worked for the Center?
I've been with the Levy Center for 27 years. When I first started, the Center was at Church & Maple and was an old student union building. And, while the new Center was being built, we spent more than two years in an old Chinese restaurant space on Chicago Avenue.
What are some of your favorite memories?
When we moved to our current location in 2002, there was a huge sense of accomplishment, of having it being built from the ground up. But, my fondest memories are of various people I have met through the years - the different kinds of people and what they have done for the Center. I've loved just chitchatting and getting to know people.
Any particular day trips memorable?
One of my favorite outings was an overnight trip to Starved Rock with an especially fun group of people. Over the years, I have also been fortunate to accompany members to see so many good shows that I might have not seen otherwise. The Lion King is one that really stands out.
What will you miss most?
Plain and simple: the people.
How have you seen the Levy Senior Center make an impact on the people it serves?
Perhaps the biggest thing, in addition to our programming, is just the fact that we are here to be a social experience for older adults; a place where they can come, have lunch during the week and hang out. The Center gives people a chance to meet new and different people they might not meet otherwise.
What accomplishments are you most proud of?
I am very proud of a lot of the programs that I started and the award I received from the NAACP in 2012 for service in the community.
What was one of your biggest challenges?
A big challenge for me was the fact that I did not come from a senior or social service background. I had worked with the Girl Scouts for 17 years before coming to Levy.
What do you plan to do in your retirement?
For the first three months, I plan to sit by the pool. After that, I have a plans to travel to Korea for a vacation. I'm also planning to work with a local pet rescue agency, Young at Heart, and may also volunteer at my local community senior center.
The Levy Senior Center Foundation is so grateful for the tenacity of supporters like Leslie. A big thanks to Leslie for her integrity, dedication and tireless work ethic during her many years at the Levy Senior Center. We'll miss her, and wish her the very best!
We celebrated Leslie's achievements at the Levy Center on May 3. Check out photos from the event below!