Dec. 2—CORBIN — Beverly Faulkner has dedicated over 30 years of her life to those community members who rely on the Corbin Senior Citizen Center's services.
Faulkner began working at the senior citizen center as a meal delivery driver nearly 31 years ago — 30 years and seven months, to be exact. Faulkner said the late Ed Tye, former director of the center, had asked her to come aboard and she was eager to get started.
After some time, Tye later asked Faulkner if she'd like to take an office position, as she was named assistant director. Eventually, Faulkner worked her way up to director of the center after Tye had stepped down — the position she has been in for the past 26 years.
Then, on Tuesday, Faulkner celebrated her final day as director, surrounded by coworkers, friends and community leaders who had organized a surprise retirement party for their beloved director and friend.
Over the years, Faulkner has worn many hats, as she was, many times, short on employees. At any given day, you may have found Faulkner taking on the role of janitor in the center, delivering meals to seniors or making home visits, on top of her duties as director.
As director, Faulkner also spends her days making calls to seniors in the community to make sure they have everything they need, even going so far as to give them her personal number in the case of an emergency.
"If they had a problem, they could call me and I'd do whatever I needed to to help them," Faulkner said.
"She calls and checks on them and makes sure they have food, when there is bad weather she makes sure they have heat," Site-Based Director for the Corbin Senior Citizen Center Shelia Mills said of Faulkner. "They know they can call her any time."
For Faulkner, most of the seniors at the center have become like her family and is the reason why she has stayed for the past 30 years.
"I love the seniors, I really do," Faulkner said. "They are family. We've became friends and when they were happy, I was happy. We all laughed, all cried together."
Mills shared the same sentiment about Faulkner's relationship with the seniors.
"I think a lot of them think of her as a daughter," Mills said. "We have a lot of elderly who don't have any family here and she's been here so long that she's like their family."
Faulkner has had the pleasure of meeting new faces throughout the years, while also having to deal with the loss of several of her seniors she had grown so close to.
"We've lost a lot of seniors, I've been to a lot of funerals over the years," she said. "I just have a lot of love for my seniors. They are family to you. When you talk about their children, you know who they're talking about, their animals. You just become attached and when you lose one, it breaks your heart. It's like losing a family member."
In March of last year, the Corbin Senior Citizen Center was forced to close its doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the threat it had on the elderly in the community. Today, the center remains closed, though they were able to open for two weeks over the summer before being shut down again.
Since that time, the employees of the senior citizens center have not been able to be face-to-face with those seniors who have become more like family and have had to shift the way they normally do things. Faulkner and her employees have had to prepare and package over 100 meals each day to deliver and hand out to their seniors.
"Since the pandemic started, we've had to package the meals and Beverly has had to run the meals out to their cars—snow, rain, whatever, she was out there handing meals out," said Mills.
In fact, Faulkner said she has done so much walking back and forth from the building to people's vehicles that she has completely worn out three pairs of shoes over the past 18 months.
"Since COVID has started, I've worn three pairs of tennis shoes out carrying meals out," Faulkner said. "Our congregate people that would normally come in to eat, now they'll pull up and we'll carry their meals out to them. So I've just wore myself thin from walking meals out every day to them."
On her final day as director, Faulkner wrote each senior a special note with their meal that included her phone number in case they ever need to reach her. Faulkner said she promised her seniors she wouldn't be going too far and plans to come back to visit once the center is allowed to open back up.
While Faulkner will certainly be missed, Mills said she and all the staff at the center are happy that Faulkner can finally relax and enjoy more time with her family, especially her two grandchildren who are in kindergarten and first grade.
"I look forward to spending more time with them, more time with my husband," Faulkner said.
Faulkner said she believes she is leaving the Corbin Senior Citizen Center in some very capable hands, as she looked across the gym at the dedicated group of coworkers who have become her extended family, as well as the center's newest director, Christy Alford, who has spent the last month learning the ins and outs of the center from Faulkner herself.