OREGON – For 28 years, Ann Haas has been a familiar face to senior citizens – and others – in Ogle County.
First working as the volunteer coordinator at the Yellowbird Senior Center in Oregon starting in 1991, and finally serving as executive director of the Rock River Center, Haas has been there through the many changes.
But Haas said it is time to “pass the torch,” and she is retiring from the Rock River Center. Her last day is Dec. 14. The new executive director will be Jamie Nobis, who has been with RRC for more than a year.
“I feel like we’ve accomplished a lot here,” she said, mentioning the expanded programs and new building, which opened in 2011.
The public is invited to an open house for Haas at RRC on Dec. 7, from 1-3 p.m.
Haas is originally from the Galena area, and moved to Ogle County with her husband, Jim, in 1985. A nurse by trade, Haas said she always did social work, including at nursing homes.
“I wanted to work with people before they got to the nursing home stage,” she said.
That led her to Yellowbird, which eventually became Rock River Center. Hass said working with seniors when they are vibrant is very rewarding. She said helping people maintain their independence is very important work.
And the Rock River Center is more than what many would think a senior center is, she said.
“I really feel great about the fact that this has become a community center,” Haas said. “Even though some people still think it, ‘oh, it’s a senior center.’ It’s really become a community center.”
She said they have programs and learning opportunities for older and younger people in the community.
“It has really become a community resource center for people of all ages,” said Haas, who has been executive director since 2013. “It’s not just Bingo anymore.”
Haas said she will miss the people she works with, and the people that come to the Rock River Center.
“I’ll miss the friendships I’ve made with all these seniors,” she said. “I will miss their stories, I love their stories. I love their wisdom. I love their advice.”
She said she is looking forward to doing some art projects, traveling and spending time with her grandkids when she retires.
But she knows leaving won’t be that easy.
“I’ll miss this place.”