Rodney Bean to leave Senior Center
- Published: April 2, 2010
Before Rodney Bean became the director of the Yellow Springs Senior Center in January 1999, the organization had an annual budget of $65,000 and was operating out of a crowded storefront downtown to serve a modest number of local seniors. Eleven years later, the center has a $230,000 annual budget and serves about 375 individuals a year, about three times the former number. And though Bean does not take credit for it, YSSC board members say that the expanded mission of the Senior Center is a result of a successful collaboration between the board and Bean as the center’s director.
But Bean feels that it’s time for a change, and as the center has been oriented toward campaigning for a new space, now seems like a good time to let someone new take the helm, he said last week. On May 28 he will step down to let that happen.
“They need someone with more energy, and I need to make way for them,” he said.
Senior Center Board President Anna Hogarty said last week that the board is currently discussing how it intends to fill the director’s position, either by hiring an interim director or filling the position with the current staff until a new director can be found. National statistics show an estimated 50 percent growth of seniors across the country in the next 10 years, and the center anticipates an increased demand for services, Hogarty said. As the organization transitions with a new director, the board plans to reassess its role in addressing aging issues, she said.
“The job that Rodney applied for is not the same job he is leaving,” Hogarty said. “There have been so many changes in terms of increased services, and I think that’s partly due to Rodney.”
One of the ideas Bean is most proud of initiating is the Senior Center’s emergency reassurance program, which matches a volunteer with an unaccompanied senior in a medical emergency situation at the hospital. Reporters from Parade Magazine, the Journal of Emergency Medical Services and a regional radio station have interviewed Bean about that innovative program. And the push and pull of working with the board of trustees to serve the community within the means of a limited budget was the most rewarding aspect of his tenure, Bean said. With the board he learned how to leverage the strength of a group to achieve solutions that were better than they would have otherwise been. And though he had to push at times for the belief that the director should maintain the supervisory role over the center’s staff, together they “accomplished a lot — which I couldn’t have done without the help of the board,” he said.
According to longtime YSSC Board President Alex Roche, Bean led the overall shift in the Senior Center’s mission from primarily a social organization to a functional one that provides services to seniors in the area. He did this by recruiting volunteers and finding financial support for the center, and he did it in an unselfish way.
“He gave up his office to accommodate the home assistance program and settled for a small corner in a very crowded area,” Roche said. Many other nonprofit directors, including the former director of the Guggenheim Center, “have done this, but only under duress,” he said.
In the same vein, Bean fostered an era of frugality, building partitions from donated materials to organize the office and donating many volunteer hours of his own to get work done, Roche said. He worked with the board to develop the center’s membership and start an endowment and an annual campaign and increased community connections by placing senior readers with the schools, inviting potluck speakers from the police and the churches, and partnering with the Friends Care Community on the transportation and Home Assistance Programs.
Before coming to the Senior Center, Bean advised students and managed budgets at Antioch College in the dean of students office and the science and co-op departments. He managed properties in the village for a period before he began to miss “the human service work” he had done at the college. When the opportunity to work in a service capacity came again, Bean looked forward to the challenge.
And the local Senior Center proved to be unique in that it captures a wider number of supporters and smaller donors (about 400) than bigger senior centers in neighboring areas, which tend to have fewer donors who give on a larger-scale. Bean sees that as a good thing. In the village, more people are engaged with the center, and no one person has undue influence in how the organization is managed, he said.
Now that the center is looking to build on the momentum Bean helped to create, he prefers to slow down for more of a part-time job with another local nonprofit organization, for instance. Bean also continues to manage his family’s farm in Miami Township.