Penny Anderson named Alpena Senior of the Year

News Photo by Darby Hinkley Penny Anderson preps food for lunch at the Alpena Senior Citizens Center, where she was recently named Senior of the Year for her dedication to serving the community.

ALPENA — Penny Anderson has been volunteering at the Alpena Senior Citizens Center for over 30 years, and she has been named Senior of the Year for her commitment and efforts.

At the senior center, Anderson volunteers four days a week because she works at the Alpena County Library on Wednesdays. Her tasks at the senior center include prepping food, such as individually bagging sandwich buns, working the desk during congregate meals, calling for bingo games, and more.

“I call bingo,” she said. “I love that.”

Her friendly face is a staple at the senior center, and her bike is almost always parked out front.

“I bike here,” Anderson said. “It’s not very far, like maybe a mile.”

When the 61-year-old learned she was Senior of the Year, Anderson was overjoyed.

“Oh my gosh, it was just exciting,” she said. “I started to cry and my sister-in-law knew it, and my brother knew it, and my niece knew it, everybody knew it but me.”

She received the award in front of friends, family, coworkers, and seniors at noon on May 17 at the Alpena Senior Citizens Center.

“It felt really great,” Anderson said. “It was interesting. And I never knew this was coming.”

She explained why she enjoys volunteering.

“It’s something to do, just to get out of the house, and to mingle with people,” Anderson said. “I just love it, working here with BJ and Annie, and everyone. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be here.”

She said helping people is important to her as well, so that’s another reason why she volunteers.

“It’s just wonderful to help the people out,” she said. “That’s why I come here.”

Anderson has lived in Alpena for most of her life, having been adopted at age 1-1/2 from Marquette, where she was born, she said.

“Then I was raised here,” she added.

She loves living in Alpena, and being a part of the senior center community.

“I just love it here,” Anderson said. “And that’s the good part, because you don’t want to feel lonely, or anything like that.”

When she’s not riding her bike or volunteering, Anderson enjoys adult coloring and playing cards with her friends.

Senior of the Year is selected annually by a committee, Senior Center Director Annie Hepburn said.

“One thing I like about this place is BJ and Annie,” Anderson added. “They’re wonderful people.”

Hepburn and Program Manager BJ Sander feel the same way about Anderson.

“I can’t say enough good things about Penny,” Sander said. “I’ve worked with Penny for about eight years now … No matter what I ask her to do as a volunteer, she’s always there.”

“Penny is just a giving, kind-hearted person,” Hepburn said. “She is always willing to help, she has a positive personality, and she’s always bubbly and excited to be here.”

“This is like my home,” Anderson said. “They make me feel welcome here.”

“She does a great job,” Sander added.


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