“It really was the perfect job,” Thomas Collins (Tom), the custodian at Putnam County Senior Center, recalls the moment he found his way into a job at the center. Although he was between jobs, he hadn’t been looking for a job that day, taking a casual walk through downtown Greencastle. Collins encountered a building he had never ventured into, and out of curiosity, he entered. 

When discussing his first interaction with the Putnam County Senior Center, he explained, “I was in between my part-time jobs and I came in here one day because I was wondering what they did there and I wondered what it meant.”

Collins was given a tour of the center after expressing his interest and subsequently was offered a job on the spot by the director at the time, Saraha Quasebarth. 

“After we had gotten to the end of the tour she started telling me about this job that they had open for a custodian, and she asked me what I thought about it. I replied, ‘Well, it sounds like a good job for somebody.’ She smiled and replied, ‘Well, what about you?’” Collins recalled.

Surprised by her offer, Collins explained that he needed time to cogitate.

After taking time to converse with his wife and closest friend, he decided to take the offer. 

Collins reflected: “It’s the best job because it meets all of my physical, social, and mental needs. I have a lot of friends and a lot of stories due to my time here.”

The Putnam County Senior Center has been a part of the Greencastle community for almost 65 years, formally a furniture reupholstery shop owned by an older couple. The center was established following concerns of several members of the community for the elderly in Greencastle.

Malinda Mann, the current director of the center, explained how the mission of the center became the response to those concerns: to assist in social, emotional, economic, and physical needs and to address the low-income members of the community.

Services provided by the center include morning coffees every Monday through Thursday, chair aerobics twice a week, card playing groups, a crafting group, a thrift store, cooked meals, and a chance to select and take home grocery items donated by Kroger, among others.

Mann was born and raised in Rossville, Indiana. She retired from teaching and initiated as a volunteer at the center, sorting and pricing clothes for the thrift store, 

“Then I started volunteering about three days a week because I just loved the older people up here. I loved sitting at a table and chit-chatting with them,” she elucidated.

After a few years of volunteering, Malinda was called to take over as director when the director at the time became ill.  

Mann recalled a conversation with Sharron L. Hammond, the original director of The Putnam County Senior Center, “The community got together, knowing that Sharron was taking classes at DePauw and they went to her and said we know that you’re interested in working with people, and we’re wondering if you would be our first director.” 

Hammond was asked to become the first director of the senior center, attributable to being an individual who knew her community well. She has remained close to the center and its community, as she is currently a local attorney in Greencastle, her office adjacent to the center.

DePauw University also has a connection with the Putnam County Senior Center. Although not an official partnership, the center sees students volunteer regularly. 

Mann explained: “There were a couple of really passionate young ladies from the Bonner Scholars Program who came back and said this is where we want to volunteer. Their program asked them to commit a certain number of hours, but I think they might be here even a little more than the number of hours necessary. We’re really lucky to have them.”

Mann’s favorite part about working at the center is the conversations, stories, and relationships she builds with people. 

“I guess that’s my biggest joy, seeing people live a really good life,” said Mann.