Durham takes the lead at the senior center

For Julie Durham, it seemed like fate that she ended up taking the reins as director of the North Big Horn Senior Citizens Center in Lovell. Durham replaced longtime center director Denise Andersen in mid-May, following a three-week training period with Andersen.

“I’m finding there’s a lot to this job,” said Durham, “and I’m enjoying every aspect of it. The patrons are wonderful. Everyone has been accepting, helpful and very supportive.”

Julie Durham takes on her new role as director of the North Big Horn Senior Citizens Center in Lovell.
Patti Carpenter photos

Durham was first introduced to the Center by her father, Gary Young, who is a longtime member of the Center and has lived in the area for the past 10 years. She visited the Center on several occasions with her dad while she was living and working in nearby Cody. Her late mother was also an active member. Her  memorial service was held at the center about six years ago.

“My dad is actually the one who saw the job and told me to apply for it,” she said. “He said it would be great if I lived here.”

After 25 years in Cody, Durham said she felt it was time for a change, so when her father told her about the opportunity in Lovell, she applied for the job. She was born in Colorado and raised in a small town slightly larger than Lovell and felt small town life was a good fit for her.

Durham’s most recent work experience was at Gottsche, a physical therapy center in Cody, where she worked with Andersen’s cousin, managing the front desk. She also has indirect ties through other friendships to Andersen’s mother.

“It is really cool that there are all of these connections,” she said. “It makes it feel like it was meant to be.”

Prior to working at Gottsche, Durham ran a construction business, where she was responsible for the firm’s bookkeeping and other management tasks.

“This is a big life change for me, but I’m so excited for it,” she said. “My impression so far is that I’m loving this place. I’m enjoying the wonderful patrons that come through the door and my staff is the absolute best. I think the programs at the Center are great and I’m excited to be a part of it all.”

Durham said she enjoyed the Spring Fling last month and saw it as an example of the high level of volunteerism at the Center.

“It was fun to watch all those people come together to put on this wonderful program,” she said. “I’m looking forward to more of that. We always need more volunteers. We always need volunteers to help with meals-on-wheels and quilting and other programs.”

Durham said she isn’t planning to make any major changes to how the Center operates. 

“I want people to continue to love their Center, to love coming here for lunch, and I won’t make any big surprises for them right away,” she said. “I think that’s one of the things about change–new things will come. Eventually.”

Durham visited the “Deaver diners” and plans to visit senior citizen groups in other parts of the Center’s coverage area. She said she’s already participating in the meal delivery program and is currently in training to drive a van for the Center’s transportation program.

Durham is living in Cowley. 

“I like Cowley, it’s very peaceful,” she said. “I was ready for the move and I was able to find exactly what I wanted very quickly.”

 Durham said she is especially grateful for the warm welcome she has received so far from members of the senior community.

“I’m thankful to those who have welcomed me to this community,” she said. “I feel like they are setting me up to be successful. I feel like they want me to succeed as much as I want to succeed.”

By Patti Carpenter