MORRIS – Diane Bumgarner has spent a large part of her life serving seniors, and after nine years of service with Community Nutrition Network, she is retiring.
“I worked with seniors for 37 years in a nursing home environment, and nine years here, this has been unbelievable,” Bumgarner said Friday at her retirement party. “I’ll miss my seniors.”
Bumgarner is retiring as the regional coordinator for the organization and Senior Services Association. Community Nutrition Network helps provide affordable meals to seniors in the area through community and home-delivered meals.
Ann Cooper, CEO. of Community Nutrition Network, said the program is funded through a federal program through the Administration on Aging, and because of a decrease in the number of seniors in Grundy and Kendall counties, the organization has lost some of their funding.
“The funding formula is based on the number of seniors in the community,” she said. “The population in this area is going down.”
She said that just because the population drops, doesn’t mean the need drops, so the organization will continue to work hard in Grundy and Kendall. However, it does not plan to fill the regional coordinator position.
Cindy Helland, who started as a volunteer driver nine years ago under Bumgarner, will become the Grundy County manager, and Cooper will oversee some of the duties the regional manager did.
Under Bumgarner’s leadership, the organization has grown in Grundy County from serving just six to nine people a day to starting a congregate program which meets in different Grundy County municipalities that serves an average of 60 people a day.
“She has been a godsend in these counties,” Cooper said. “But she’s worked nearly 50 years, and she deserves to retire.”
Marge Ferguson, a volunteer and part-time employee with the Community Nutrition Network, said she remembers when the organization was looking to fill the position and she was approached about it.
“I’ve been here since day one with Diane,” Ferguson said. “They asked me if I was interested in the position but I was working at the school. Then Diane came in to see her mom and I said ‘I have the girl for the job.’ ”
Ferguson said Bumgarner has brought a lot to the table and that while the Community Nutrition Network will make it without her at the helm, it will be different.
Helland said filling her shoes requires a lot of work.
“It will be rough, she’s been here nine years and she does all the planning,” Helland said. “She does so much for the seniors.”
The community gathered Friday afternoon for a retirement party at Saratoga Tower in Morris – where the organization’s offices are located – to share in food and fellowship and to honor Bumgarner.
Bumgarner said she isn’t sure what she’ll do with herself without a job to get up and go to, but plans on taking a cruise this fall and would like to be able to volunteer with Grundy Area Public Action to Deliver Sustenance.
“I’ve gotten up and gone to work every day for so long I don’t know what I’ll do with my time,” she said. “My friends tell me ‘Give yourself a couple of months and you’ll wonder how you had time to work.’ ”