PLATTSBURGH - In her role as executive director of the Seniors Citizens Council of Clinton County, Kathleen Hazel has made it her life's work to provide opportunities for the elderly of the region. Now, after more than 17 years of service to the aging population, she has retired from her position.
Hazel's last day as executive director was Dec. 23, which was a closing of a chapter in her life she found to be very bittersweet.
"The day I left, I had a hard time going out to the dining room to say goodbye [to the seniors], because they're just so special," she said.
Hazel has maintained the title of executive director since August 1991. The length of service to the council has been her longest run of employment with any organization, she said, as she always felt a need to move on after a certain amount of time with other jobs.
"I was looking for something that was more challenging and had a lot of different facets to it," Hazel said of her accepting the position with the council. "I'm not a person who can sit at a desk all day. I need something that's more exciting. So, when the opportunity came along, I decided to try for the job and I got it."
When she came on board, the council was facing economic strains, personnel issues and lackluster programs and services to offer senior citizens in the county. Through the strong partnership formed between Hazel and the council's board of directors, the organization began to improve, taking on more challenges to raise money for its coffers and provide increased opportunities for those who utilized the council's senior center on North Catherine Street.
"We wanted to offer more than just bingo and a place to socialize," said Hazel. "We brought more opportunities in and as we were able to, like a book club, art class and French class. It grew the amount of people who were coming in to the facility and we all worked together as a team and that was really important. It made the place blossom."