New staff in town

Marquette Senior Center welcomes Sullivan, Luoma

The Spring Street entrance to the Marquette Senior Center, which is located in Marquette City Hall, is pictured. The center is welcoming Maureen Sullivan as the senior services manager and Tristan Luoma as the arts and senior services coordinator.

MARQUETTE — The Marquette Senior Center is welcoming new faces this spring.

The senior center director position held by Jane Palmer until her retirement was recently restructured into two positions, with Maureen Sullivan named as the senior services manager and Tristan Luoma hired to be the arts and senior services coordinator.

“I think it’s going to be really beneficial with how it’s restructured, we’re both really excited to be here,” Sullivan said.

The restructuring takes advantage of the fact that the senior center, along with the Marquette Arts and Culture Center and the city’s parks and recreation division are all housed under the umbrella of the city’s community services department and work together, Sullivan said.

This allows Sullivan to work full-time at the senior center and Luoma to work at both the Marquette Arts and Culture Center and the senior center, further coordinating collaboration between the entities and allowing the pair to deliver senior services more efficiently.

“What I want moving forward in this position and what I’m trying to do here with my coworkers and honestly my team … is advocating for seniors to the best of our ability, serving them to the best of our ability and making everybody know that we’re here,” Sullivan said.

Luoma, a Marquette native who graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in business administration alongside music and entrepreneurship minors, had previously worked as an administrative assistant for the Marquette Arts and Culture Center and looks forward to continuing to serve the community, he said.

“Marquette is a truly special place, and I’m honored to have the opportunity to continue working to improve upon and expand the programs and offerings of these two Centers,” Luoma said in a press release. “I’m looking forward to growing alongside the wonderful staffs at the Marquette Senior Center and the MACC, and getting to know more of our patrons!”

Sullivan, who has been working at the center for a little over a month, graduated from Northern Michigan University in 2016 after studying management of health and fitness with a minor in dance.

In college, Sullivan worked at NMU as an exercise assistant who assisted with a variety of programming for seniors. After graduation, Sullivan said she was fortunate to serve as the health and recreation advocate at the Superior Alliance for Independent Living, or SAIL.

“I was able to help facilitate and provide health and recreation programming to people with a disability, so things like adaptive kayaking or skiing, nutrition classes or dance classes, it was just so fun,” she said. “It was great and the agency was so supportive and had an amazing vision.”

She also served on the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board for the city of Marquette and founded Upper Peninsula Dance Outreach, a company that provides dance programming and education to children in rural areas of the U.P.

Sullivan pursued the position as senior services manager at the senior center because she wanted to continue to “be able to stay in Marquette and serve this community,” she said.

“I decided to take the leap, and was lucky enough — and I truly mean that, lucky and blessed enough — to have the opportunity to interview and thankfully, get the position, because there were a lot of very qualified people and Jane (Palmer) left big shoes to fill,” Sullivan said.

Now, a little over a month into her new position, Sullivan has been working hard to raise awareness of services offered by the center, which span from social work, to informational and referral services, to education, health, fitness, arts, and recreation.

In particular, Sullivan wants residents to know the center has three social workers, as the confidential nature of the services provided often means the community may not hear the success stories and be aware of the social work resources available through the center, she said.

“I want to make sure that the community knows that we provide social work services and if they have a need, to call us and we really try our best to help satisfy that need,” she said.

She also wants the community to know about the wide variety of programming available through the center, some of which takes place in the community.

From the Silver Sampler program, which gives seniors opportunities to do recreational activities such as hiking, skiing and more, to pickleball games, fitness programs, and art classes held at the Marquette Center for Arts and Culture, there’s something for everyone, she said.

Furthermore, the center itself also has an active cribbage league that meets 1 p.m. Thursday through May and is looking for new players, she said.

Sullivan is also working to find out if community seniors are interested in the Marquette Senior Center becoming a congregate meal site, as she plans to hold an event at the senior center from 1 to 2 p.m. May 7 with Community Action Alger Marquette.

The event, which will offer attendees a free meal, will give seniors a chance to learn about and sample congregate meals, meet Sullivan and Luoma, ask questions, share comments and concerns, and give input on whether the center should pursue congregate meals through a survey, she said.

“We want to hear what they have to say and we want them to have some representation so we’re really encouraging people to come,” Sullivan said.

Overall, Sullivan wants the community to that she and Luoma are there to serve them.

“I just really strongly encourage people to stop in, say hi, give us a call,” she said. “if my door isn’t open, come peak in my window, see what’s going on, come introduce yourself, tell me your questions or concerns. I’m very open.”

For more information on the Marquette Senior Center, its events and services, call 906-228-0456 or visit www.marquettemi.gov/departments/community-services/senior-center/. The Marquette Senior Center also maintains a Facebook page that can be accessed at www.facebook.com/MQTSeniorCenter.

The Marquette Senior Center is located in City Hall along the 300 block Baraga Avenue, but can also be accessed from the 300 block of West Spring Street.