Familiar face to take Kenai Senior Center reins

Regular visitors going to the Kenai Senior Center for lunch, games, Thursday evening bluegrass jam sessions, and other activities will be seeing a new face — though a familiar one — behind the director’s desk.

Rachel Craig is retiring after serving as Kenai Senior Center Director for 16 years. On Oct. 1 she’ll be replaced by Kathy Romain, who has worked at the Senior Center as an administrative assistant for about 20 years.

“Rachel and I have been a team together for 16 years,” Romain said. “So it’s always the seniors first, and emphasizing wonderful customer service and the needs of our senior population.”

Craig holds similar sentiments, saying Romain was her “right hand” during her leadership of the Senior Center.

When Romain takes over as director, Craig will retire. Her plans are to “maybe a be senior, and see how that goes,” she said. Aside from a short trip, Craig has nothing else definite for her retirement.

“I think we’re hoping to stay in the area,” she said. “Kenai’s a great place for seniors. It’s a small community and people care about each other. Great for people to age in place.”

Many seem to agree. Romain said the numbers of people at Kenai Senior Center activities are increasing rapidly.

“On average, on a monthly basis, we serve in one way or another about 500 — whether they’re eating here or coming to play cards, or coming for bluegrass on Thursday nights, or they’re home meal clients,” Romain said. “People who are coming through our doors and we are actively counting their participation in some form, or maybe we’re just giving them information or assistance.”

According to data the Senior Center has been collecting over the past year, about 75 percent of these are from the city of Kenai, and 25 percent from the surrounding area. The majority are in their 70s.

Romain said the most popular activities at the senior center are exercise, nutrition, and fitness programs.

“Just in the month of June we had upwards of a hundred separate seniors taking part in (nutritional) programs on a weekly basis,” Romain said. “And those numbers are growing. If you look back even a year ago, those numbers have almost doubled… I think it’s the old adage ‘if you build it, they will come.’ Some of the classes started slow, but they build up. What we’re seeing is a whole different demographic — a whole different group of seniors coming in from the community who had a stigma of what they thought the senior center was about: ‘seniors who live there just come down for lunch and play cards.’ But we’re seeing more and more that people are saying ‘hey, they may have something for me.’ It’s a real resource for Kenai, especially when seniors are the highest demographic moving into the state.”

Asked about plans for her directorship, Romain said she intends “to continue on with a lot of the things we already have in place.” In addition to the popular fitness programs, some activities the Senior Center has been recently hosting include a writing group, a Spanish class, and piano lessons taught by a pair of local high school students, Craig said.

More in News

Snow coats an eroding bluff near the mouth of the Kenai River on Friday, March 3, 2023, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai accepting bids on bluff stabilization project

The announcement means that contractors can start submitting their proposals for how they’d complete the work and how much it would cost to do so

A stack of the Seward Journal is pictured. The town’s only daily newspaper published its last edition Nov. 27. (Photo via Seward Journal Facebook page)
‘A thing of the past’

Seward Journal calls it quits after struggle to keep newspaper afloat

Tim Navarre and Dana Cannava discuss a preliminary Soldotna route for the Kahtnu Area Transit with Planner Bryant Wright at the Challenger Learning Center of Alaska in Kenai, Alaska, on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Getting people where they need to go

Plans for Kenaitze Indian Tribe’s Kahtnu Area Transit move forward

A state plow truck clears snow from the Kenai Spur Highway on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
DOT identifies roads included in brine reduction plan

The department said its goal is to reduce brine use overall in the region by 40%

Soldotna High School senior Josiah Burton testifies in opposition to the proposed cut of Kenai Peninsula Borough School District theater technicians while audience members look on during a board of education meeting on Monday, March 6, 2023 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
School board finance group reviews expenditures ahead of upcoming budget cycle

As the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District prepares to grapple with another… Continue reading

Members of the Kenai/Soldotna Fish and Game Advisory Committee raise hands to vote in favor of a proposal during a meeting at Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, Nov. 20, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Silver salmon, personal use fishing discussed by advisory committee

The group set their recommendations on a variety of proposals to the State Board of Fisheries

Hoses pump water along Patrick Drive to help mitigate flooding near Kalifornsky Beach Road on Friday, July 21, 2023, near Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Borough spent almost $78k responding to flood events during disaster declaration

Most of the funds were spend in the northwest area of Kalifornsky Beach Road

The National Weather Service’s map shows a winter weather advisory, in orange, effective for much of the eastern Kenai Peninsula. (Screenshot)
Heavy snow, blowing winds forecast for Turnagain Pass on Wednesday

Snow accumulations of up to 16 inches are expected

The Kenai Courthouse is seen on Monday, July 3, 2023, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Grand jury adds charges in October killing of Homer woman

The indictment was delivered on Nov. 8

Most Read