By Courtney Bergman
Several years ago, a recently widowed woman, unable to remain in her home and care for herself, sat on her son’s couch and anxiously awaited faithful volunteers who eagerly chauffeured her to Morgan County’s Senior Citizen Center, where she was greeted by friends and given a hot meal. She enjoyed a myriad of services, as well as friendship and socialization with peers from her generation. Once a week, that same van would come and take her and her friends to various venues, including shopping, or perhaps a trip to Gardner’s Village, Thanksgiving Point, or a sunset cruise around the Great Salt Lake. Up until the week she passed away, she and her family embraced the services offered through the senior center and were so grateful for the opportunities that otherwise may have been unavailable to her. This scene has been repeated over and over throughout Morgan County for countless senior residents and at the head of this organization, serving faithfully for over thirty years, has been Jeanne Allen.
Born in Hyrum, Utah, Jeanne was a member of a very close family. Her father passed away at a very young age, leaving her mother to raise Jeanne and her seven siblings alone. However, despite their hardships and trials, she enjoyed a very happy childhood and has many fond memories of helping her mother and her family members.
She met her husband Kim while attending Utah State University. They moved to Morgan after Kim finished school and reside on a small farm complete with horses, sheep, and one pet pig. They are the parents of three children and the grandparents of nine grandchildren who Jeanne claims are her greatest blessing. She and her husband will celebrate fifty years of marriage this July.
Beginning in the late 1970s, Jeanne began her career working at the Senior Center taking minutes and completing payroll. She then worked part-time for four different directors before Jeanne advanced to the position of director where she faithfully served until her retirement on January 31st. Her primary responsibilities included providing educational, recreational, and health-related activities for senior residents, as well as making sure each individual had access to a hot, nutritional meal. Services included not only those residents who could attend activities provided at the center, but also those who were homebound and in need of additional help to improve their overall quality of life. She also coordinated and provided flu, blood pressure and foot care clinics, and exercise and other classes with the assistance of volunteers and staff members whom she claims are critical to the success of her program.
Perhaps one of the greatest hallmarks of her career was assisting in the building of the new senior center, attached to the library. Jeanne recalls the myriad of grants, applications, and other paperwork required for the building of such a beautiful addition to the county. Although this task went far beyond the expectations of her regular duties, it was one of her crowning achievements and something that residents have enjoyed and will continue to enjoy for many years to come.
In addition to the numerous clinics and activities that Jeanne has supervised and organized, she remembers some of her favorite events surrounding the annual Christmas parties, where individuals come and enjoy specially prepared food, entertainment, and prizes. She also loved sharing both happy and sad moments with senior residents, celebrating at times, while offering a shoulder of support when needed. Because of this camaraderie and friendship in which she was privileged to share, some of the hardest moments were when a cherished friend whom she had come to love so much passed away.
Jeanne’s service and dedication have often been generally unrecognized, but those who benefit from opportunities provided through the senior center will not soon forget what she has done for the program as a whole as well as each individual. She greeted each person with a smile and worked diligently to see to their individual needs. Even though it was difficult meeting every need, especially for those who were homebound, Jeanne made sure that she attempted to address every want as it arose, stating, “I always wanted to be able to do more than I could accomplish in serving them each day. ” That dedication and ethic was deeply appreciated by each life she touched and although residents are excited for her new ventures, she will be sorely missed by the residents as well as her colleagues.
Jeanne also reiterated that her rewarding career would not have been possible without the seniors, staff, and volunteers, but most especially without the love and support of her husband and family. Jeanne and her husband plan to spend her retirement enjoying their children, grandchildren, and extended family, especially those who still reside in Cache Valley. Immediate plans include traveling to Peru to visit their granddaughter who is currently serving an LDS mission, followed by a trip to San Francisco via train. Jeanne also hopes to spend more time with friends outside of her senior circles.