By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Grafton – Judy McKenzie is described as the “star volunteer” of the Grafton Senior Center by Lisa Kelley, the outreach worker.
About two years ago, both the director and secretary positions needed to be filled. During a six-month period, two part-time employees and two van drivers oversaw much of the Senior Center’s activities.
“Judy came in everyday to take over the secretary duties until we were able to regroup,” Kelley explained.
From August 2012 through January 2013, McKenzie gladly reported to the Senior Center each weekday for four to five hours. She feels that those six months passed too quickly.
“That was the most fun I ever had in my life,” she recalled. “It was fun working with those four people, and with other people my age. I walked in there and felt like I was there to have fun, not to work.”
She remembers the center’s secretarial duties as involving lots of phone and computer worker.
“Responsibilities included answering the phone, entering names into the computer when people came in for activities, giving out pieces of medical equipment, scheduling bus drivers – and smiling,” she said with a grin. “Fortunately, I was among my own peers, so I could understand what they needed.”
McKenzie has lived in Grafton for 19 years. Born and raised in Worcester, she immediately became well-traveled beginning at age 18 after marrying her first husband, who served in the Air Force.
“We moved almost every single year,” she relayed. “The first place we went was Arlington, Virginia. From there it was Nebraska, then England, Alabama, Texas and California.”
She moved back to Massachusetts and relocated a few times locally.
“I’ve lived in Northborough, Westborough and West Boylston – that was with my second ex-husband,” she said.
While in Northborough she began working at the town assessor’s office.
“I was the assistant assessor from 1989 to 2004 and then I retired,” she said.
She moved to Shrewsbury and then to Grafton in 1996.
“I love Grafton,” she declared. “I love the people and the convenience here. There’s such a hometown, friendly feeling.”
McKenzie also loves working and missed it while in retirement. She decided to take part in the senior property tax work-off abatement program, in which participating taxpayers volunteer their services to the town in exchange for a reduction in their tax.
“Once I retired, I got very bored because I love to work,” she said. “I’ve been doing the senior work-off volunteer program they have through the town. I volunteered in the Grafton assessor’s office, the building department and the board of health.”
Next, she volunteered at the Senior Center, where she had formerly attended exercises classes before participating in the work-off volunteer program.
“It’s the friendliest group I’ve ever seen,” she said of the center’s staff and frequenters. “Everybody knows everybody by name.”
McKenzie noted that she’s been visiting the Senior Center less frequently while being medically monitored. She’s looking forward to returning.
“They are my family,” she said. “They treat a lot of people that way, not just me. Everybody there works as a close-knit family, which means that when you get up in the morning you want to go to work. I’ll definitely go back there.”