New director takes helm at Issaquah Valley Senior Center

January 13, 2010

By Chantelle Lusebrink

Courtney Jaren, new Issaquah Valley Senior Center executive director, stands before a twice-weekly exercise class at the social center. — Photo by Greg Farrar

UPDATED — 2:06 p.m. Jan. 13, 2010

Only one day on the job, and Courtney Jaren is busy meeting patrons and making plans at the Issaquah Valley Senior Center.

“We’d like to put out an all-call for volunteers,” she said, of her first order of business. “We want people in the community to come volunteer with us particularly our schools, Rotary or Eagles groups.

“We want to open ourselves up to new generations and embrace the entire community.”

Jaren is the new executive director for the center. Her first day was Tuesday and she succeeds Janice Koriath, who left the position at the end October. Meet Jaren at a meet-and-greet event today at 2 p.m.

The senior center is a nonprofit organization that organizes a variety of senior activities in and outside Issaquah for adults older than 55. It also offers education, recreation and health and wellness programming.

On her second day, Jaren’s schedule was already in full swing with a luncheon with senior center patrons. But that didn’t stop her from getting in early to mingle with some of the students in the morning SAIL, Stay Active and Independent for Life, exercise class.

Jaren said she still has many people to meet and a lot of ideas to gather from the community at the senior center, but she has a good program with which to start.

“I’d like to put out a survey to see what they like, what they don’t and what they would like us to have,” like a yoga class, she said. “We have extremely enlightened individuals with great ideas and they are willing to put the energy into those ideas.

“So, it isn’t an uphill battle to bring them to fruition, because we are already a thriving community.”

While she may be new to the job, she’s certainly not new to Issaquah.

“I married a native,” she said of her husband, Mathias Jaren. “He brought me here years ago. For a girl that grew up in the Philadelphia metro area, it was a wonderland for me and I didn’t want to leave.”

However, their careers took them to California and then to Oregon after having their children, a son, who is a neurologist, and daughter, who is a legal recruiter, both in their 30s.

“Even then I thought, wouldn’t it be a dream to be the director of the Issaquah senior center,” she said. “It is such a thriving community.”

In California and Oregon, she worked in the legal profession as a dean of a distance learning law school program and as a senior services director.

She left her position with a senior center in Oregon to take the position in Issaquah, because senior services is her passion and always has been, she said.

“This is a place for them. A lot of times, when people retire, they lose their interest in life and the senior center gives that back to them,” she said. “These are our moms and dads, our grandparents and our aunts and uncles. This is a wonderful place for them to go to be with each other and to be with us where they feel valued.

“Every day, we can make a difference in someone’s life.”

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