New leader aims to keep seniors engaged
Posted on 12/15/2020
Stephanie McNees is the new Senior Services supervisor.Seniors do better when they have places to go and things to do. Northville’s new Senior Services Supervisor Stephanie McNees is intent on exploring options that will benefit seniors and provide a more spirited interaction with the community at large.

McNees has both an interest and experience in positions that boost the community by attending to the needs of people as individuals and in groups. In 2016, armed with a degree in political science from MSU, she took a gap year to work for AmeriCorps, a federally funded public service organization. Over the course of a year, she crisscrossed the country to help where needed, taking on projects that lasted from six weeks to three months. Stints included working at a clothing bank, building a trail at a beach state park, developing science and math programming for a science museum, and bringing food to areas where grocery stores are few and far between.

“It’s the most favorite thing I’ve ever done in my life,” she said. “I like to be involved, doing things for others. This led me to want to work at local government and municipalities since they are an important part of a community’s infrastructure.”

Her previous job as the DDA director for the City of Southgate gave her “perfect training” for her new role. She created events and programs, facilitated a multitude of groups to make an event work, and got the community involved – all in the effort to help businesses grow.

“Now, I’m thinking of seniors rather than businesses,” she said. Yet many of the elements are the same. She is exploring ways to get seniors involved in the community as volunteers and in other roles. “I want to meet whatever needs there are,” she said. One way to help businesses, she believes, is for them to draw in seniors by providing a discount.

While many professionals are working from home, McNees is working at the Community Center even though the doors aren’t open to seniors due to a spike in COVID-19 cases statewide. From there, she’s running safe programming, such as virtual fitness on Zoom, transportation for seniors and the disabled, a medical equipment loan program, and a liquid nutrition program (Ensure). Several of these programs have county or regional funding and must continue because of the vast need.

In her early college days, she interned for Southgate’s Senior Services program and made appointments for transportation. Now, she will be running a fleet of six SMART buses. Due to a lack of drivers, only one bus is operating daily. (Anyone interested in being a part-time driver should contact the Northville Township Human Resources Dept.) In 2019, the service provided 3,400 curb-to-curb trips for seniors 60 years or older and the disabled who live in the City or Township of Northville.

She will work closely with the Senior Advisory Council, a nine-member commission chaired by Jan Purtell. The council meets monthly and oversees the budget, grants, programming and facility utilization. McNees and her boss, Mark Gasche, director of Parks and Recreation, also attend those public meetings.

“Stephanie is very enthusiastic and looking forward to hearing from residents about programs and services they would like to see offered through Senior Services,” said Gasche. “Her background with the DDA will help her develop relationships with senior living facilities, health care providers, other senior services program providers, and area businesses.”

In November, an online cooking class sponsored by Independence Village provided ingredients for a meal that the seniors cooked from their homes as they watched how to prepare the meal on their computer or smart phone screens. It was a hit and McNees plans to bring it back. Watch for that program and other fun ways for seniors to start engaging again.

Stephanie Mc Nees at back entrance to Community Center