Over the last five months, seniors have experienced three different social services directors at the Los Altos Senior Center. Alice Putman is the latest, and most seniors say she is doing things they like.
"My first objective is to make sure no one is unhappy around here," Putman said. "I'm looking for new ideas from senior members and not offering all my ideas."
Putman replaced Babe Poe who resigned to take advantage of other opportunities. And Poe had followed Judy Sidebottom, the social service director the last seven years, who retired Jan. 1. Putman is making changes that seniors request.
"It's such a little thing, but a lot of members asked to put the calendar back in the (center's monthly newsletter) 'Spotlight' each month. That way they only have to look at one page and see what is happening on a certain date," Putman said. "They want little fliers they can put on their refrigerator door that tell when the senior center has special events, day trips and guest speakers."
There are other requests Putman has fulfilled. She worked with Elke Horn in adult education and is bringing back former classes seniors want. Classes in international relations, yoga, and a second hiking group will start in the summer. Canasta games will restart, and any new suggestions seniors want will be considered.
Putman has worked with seniors most of her life. She spent 23 years cooking in a senior nutritional program in Paradise. She spent 13 years as the cook-manager preparing food for 50 to 120 seniors each day.
Living in a small mountain town like Paradise, Putman wanted to seek bigger opportunities. She came to San Jose to see what life was like in a big city and worked in different school district cafeterias and food service programs. After a short term as activity director at the WestGate Villa, and director for the senior nutrition program in the Milpitas Senior Center, Putman came to Los Altos.
"After working in large adult programs, my first impression of the Los Altos Senior Center was a small, friendly, but quiet group. Everyone made me feel welcome, and the volunteers are most helpful here," Putman said. "This center couldn't operate without the many volunteers needed to run a senior program."
Rose DeVasto, former receptionist at the Los Altos Golf & Country Club, retired last year and is one of the volunteer receptionists at the senior center.
"I'm a people-oriented person who likes to help others. I enjoy being with people my own age and younger, and the senior center provides that for me since Alice is here," DeVasto said."
Senior center hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and work well with Putman because she is still going to college to get a bachelor's degree in social work with a minor degree in gerontology at San Jose State University.
"Once I get that degree in gerontology, I will put it to good use around here," Putman said.