Linda Sheehan spent 31-year career at Senior Center supporting our elders

By Nancy Reardon
MethuenLife Writer

  For 31 years, Linda Sheehan has been a beloved employee of the Methuen Senior Activity Center, doing everything from answering phones and organizing an army of volunteers to literally running the show! So it’s no surprise that nearly 100 people turned out last month to bid Linda a fond farewell as she heads into retirement.

  Sheehan’s Assistant Director Susan Riccio – another longtime employee – spoke on behalf of the staff, Board of Trustees and the Council on Aging.

  “We want to thank you for the past two years for being our director,” she said. “You brought us out of the COVID pandemic and, just as we were welcoming our opening, the water break hit. We were all devastated not only because of the water damage to our center, but we had to close for six more months for repairs. Even though we know it was stressful, Linda you kept the morale of the staff up and together we were able to bring our seniors back to their home-away-from-home.”

  Every weekday, hundreds of seniors head to the center for exercise and art classes, low-cost lunches, music and entertainment events, educational programs, pool and shuffleboard, camaraderie and much more. Sheehan has worked one-on-one with countless seniors as a friend, resource and advocate.

  “Linda, we celebrate you!” Riccio continued. “We all wish you a lifetime of happiness and health, but most of all making those treasured memories with your family and friends.”

  With that, Sheehan was presented with several gifts from the staff.

  She tearfully responded with, “I cannot thank you all enough. Thirty-one years is a big chunk of my life and this place is my second home, my second family I have loved every minute of it.

“I am just a participant; you guys are the life of this building,” she said, looking out toward a sea of senior citizens. “I just love you all.”
  Sheehan started at the center in 1992. She worked as assistant director to former Executive Director Corinne LaCharite Johnson and, upon Corinne’s retirement, was hired as executive director in 2021.

  Sheehan’s family – husband and local businessman Bob, son Neil and mother-in-law Eleanor Sheehan – joined the celebration along with dozens of center members and volunteers as well as city officials.

  Sen. Pavel Payano presented Sheehan with a citation from the state Senate, saying, “I want to thank you, on behalf of all of us at the delegation, on this happy occasion on your retirement for 30 years of dedicated service to the City of Methuen.”

  Sheehan told MethuenLife she is looking forward to spending time with family.  

  “I will be visiting my sister who lives in another state. I just love (the Methuen Senior Center); we have had the same staff for the past 24 years and we were tight like family. I cannot say enough good things about them. It has really been an honor working here.

  “I plan on coming back to do some things here (as a member),” she said. “I want to take some yoga classes.”

  Former longtime Executive Director Corinne LaCharite Johnson said, “There are so many thoughts I have for Linda. For all those years working for me, she truly was the wind beneath my wings. Her skills, her ability to diagnose issues and problems helped us get through all those years and build on this very small operation to what we have accomplished.”

  Barabra El, a senior and one of the many center volunteers, said of Sheehan, “She started off with the flood and has held this center together like glue. I am surely going to miss her, not only as the director but as a friend.”

  Senior and volunteer Linda Bongiorno said, “She made us feel like family and we just loved her and we are going to miss her very much.”

  Sheehan retired Dec. 1. As of MethuenLife press time, there has been no announcement on who will fill the role of the center’s executive director.

 

MethuenLife photos by Nancy Reardon