The award came as such a surprise that even Denise was rendered speechless.
Denise Andersen, the longtime director of the North Big Horn Senior Citizens Center, thought she was attending Saturday night’s Lovell Area Chamber of Commerce Spring Dinner and Awards Banquet to introduce President Janet Koritnik prior to her president’s speech. Little did she know when presenter LaVerne Thatch went to the podium that she would be honored as Citizen of the Year.
Andersen, the hub of the popular and highly functional senior citizens center that performs myriad programs and provides a friendly place for seniors to gather, is a remarkable woman, Thatch said in her introduction.
“A few weeks ago I was reading the Lovell Chronicle and I noticed an ad by the Lovell Chamber of Commerce asking people to nominate someone they felt should be honored as the Outstanding Citizen of the Year and immediately I thought of an awesome lady named Denise, who has been the manager in charge of the North Big Horn Senior Center in Lovell for, I believe, about 20-some years now (24),” Thatch said. “The Senior Center is, by far, one of the most valuable assets in this area.”
Thatch listed the many services and functions provided by the Center including the monthly newsletter providing the daily lunch menu, memorials, news of services and programming, monthly birthdays, Dollar of the Month donations and more, and the lunches served at the center.
“The ladies who cook are amazing and I have never heard anyone complain about the food,” Thatch said. “About lunchtime the dining room area is full, and there are also several volunteers who deliver meals to those who are unable to get to the Center. They deliver from Lovell clear down to the Kane area and to Byron, Cowley, Deaver and Frannie.”
Thatch also listed the monthly birthday party, during which those with a birthday that month receive a free meal sponsored by a local bank; the Those We Will Remember memorials in the name of a loved one and the Dollar of the Month program for fundraising.
“The (Dollar of the Month) program is appreciated very much, and the people are very generous,” she said of the Dollar of the Month fundraiser.
“The list goes on and on,” Thatch said, noting the quilting club, flu shots, tax preparation sessions, the Loan Closet for walkers, wheelchairs and canes and transportation for doctor’s appointments, a trip to the supermarket and more.
“I can’t say enough about Denise and all that she has done to make our Senior Center such a success,” Thatch said. “She makes everyone feel so welcome, and she makes sure all seniors are watched over. We are so lucky to have the North Big Horn Senior Center here, and we owe so much to Denise Andersen for making it such a huge success.”
“No one keeps a secret from me,” Andersen marveled as she accepted her award with a smile. “This (directing the Center) is not a job, it’s a lifestyle. I have an amazing staff. We’re pleased to serve you. This is really, really an honor.
“I’m amazed. And I’m speechless, for probably the first time. It’s really a special honor.”
By David Peck