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Senior center director moves on to Hillsboro facility

by: Alana Kansaku-Sarmiento Paula Stewart stands in the lobby of the Juanita Pohl Center on her last day as center director.

Paula Stewart, director of the Juanita Pohl and Sherwood Senior Centers, is heading west to manage the Hillsboro Senior Center. After four and a half years in Tualatin and one year in Sherwood, Stewart's last day was Tuesday.

Leaders with Loaves and Fishes, the organization that manages both centers, are currently in talks with the cities of Tualatin and Sherwood and have yet to decide what step to take in the filling of Stewart's dual-director position.

'They all want the same thing,' Stewart said. 'They want good services for the adults.'

Stewart is stepping into her new position during a time of great transition for the Hillsboro Senior Center, as the city of Hillsboro is in the process of taking over the center's management responsibilities.

'They're going through a lot of transition, and I think I have a lot of experience guiding people through these transitional times,' Stewart said. 'Change is hard for everyone, particularly older adults, and I think I've been a good guide for transitioning them (in Tualatin and Sherwood) through these changes, and I'm hoping I can do the same in Hillsboro.

'I have the chance to be progressive and innovative, working in a city environment. Hillsboro's growing incredibly fast.'

Some changes that have taken place during Stewart's tenure at Juanita Pohl include the current construction and renovation project, as well as its name change from the Tualatin/Durham Senior Center to the Juanita Pohl Center.

'We did a lot of innovative things, big things,' Stewart said of her time there. Some of these included hosting an all-age health fair for the community, putting together a quilt show during the Crawfish Festival and hosting a silent auction featuring 'bodacious bras' stitched by center members.

'We took part in a lot of things in the community that we weren't necessarily required to do, but we wanted to,' Stewart said. 'The seniors here like to give back. They would volunteer with schools, sit on various committees, host breakfasts for the chamber and collaborate with people on different things in town.'

Stewart, who used to own and operate a nursing home with her husband in North Portland, has been working with seniors in some capacity for about 30 years.

'I've always liked listening and learning from older adults,' Stewart said. 'I find it very impressive; it's fascinating to me.'




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