FEARLESS SENIOR LEADER

Shelly Pontin, left is the Prosser Senior Citizens’ Club’s President, local volunteer and senior advocate. To her right, is her brother Rick Ripplinger.

PROSSER — Shelly Pontin has been at the helm of the Prosser Senior Citizens’ Club for nearly 19 months.

Pontin took leadership of the small, but focused senior group following the retirement and subsequent death of Helen Carrell, the club’s President for decades and a Prosser legend in senior circles. It was no small ask.

Pontin has set her sights on achieving no less, than the most and the best for the senior community members she and her minute army of volunteers serve, every day out of the Dudley Street Community Center.

“I came here (the community center) as a child with my own parents. We played games together. And bingo. It was a family event I couldn’t stop thinking about all week, and I can still remember how it feels to be a part of all that family and fun,” Pontin described.

It is, in part, these strong childhood memories and her belief that seniors deserve an equal voice in the community, equal services provided with some fun thrown in, which drives her to keep an overbooked, daily dance card of activities on 1231 Dudley Street.

Pontin is a change agent with boundless vision and drive to match. During her year and a half stint, she has implemented changes on a scale that would intimidate most paid CEOs. Pontin is an unpaid volunteer who shares senior community event planning with the city of Prosser’s Park and Recreation Department.

Since Pontin began steering the Senior Citizens’ Club, programming has expanded. She understands the power of partnership and is collaborating with other organizations and businesses. The entities recently chipped in their allocated time of a shared community grant writer Sue Jetter, of Sunnyside, to help the club create a strategic plan for the future.

Pontin is seeking to meet what she considers the most serious gap in services, and that is transportation.

Meals on Wheels provides lunch five days a week at the center and delivers to customers within a radius outside of town. But Pontin has learned of seniors who have food insecurity, no transportation and live just outside of the service zone for meals delivery.

She and her small group of club officers are talking about the issue and strategizing ways to find funding for the one-time purchase of a small bus and for ongoing maintenance.

Pontin has no plans to be idle as long as there are seniors without in Prosser.

For more information about the Prosser Senior Citizens’ Club activities and events, including lunch, Monday through Friday, by donation, contact (509) 786-2915.

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