If you walked in on Garfield County’s Senior Programs Manager Judy Martin’s retirement party on Friday, June 30, your ears were met with a sound of boisterous laughter and joy. Every seat was filled with community members who came to bid her adieu.
Most in attendance had lots of life-experience and knew Martin through her work, and many were regular volunteers for senior programs offered between Carbondale and Parachute.
The outgoing program manager grew up in Norwood, Ohio. She left Norwood after college, worked for a couple of years and then returned to school for a Master’s in social work at the University of Washington in Seattle.
Martin has worked as the county’s senior programs manager for the past 15 years. And, she worked as the victim/witness coordinator for the Ninth Judicial District Attorney’s (DA) office for 15 years before that. Whereas in her position with the DA she didn’t have the chance nearly as often to get to know the people she helped on a personal level, her job with the county has afforded many life-long friendships.
“When you do this job, people open up their hearts to you,” Martin told The Sopris Sun. She’s made friends that she travels with, watches baseball games with and more. Looking ahead, “I’m not going to be lonely. I’ve got friends, man,” she said of retirement.
Martin pointed to the collaborative efforts between Senior Services and various municipalities, including Carbondale. In fact, she praised Carbondale Trustee Marty Silverstein, who attended her retirement party. “Marty has helped with that tremendously,” she stated. She also commended the Carbondale Parks and Recreation Department for its senior field trips, guided by Jessi Rochel, a superstar in Martin’s eyes.
On top of that she applauded Carbondale and Rural Fire Protection District and its assistant chief, Pablo Herr, for helping out with the congregate meals at The Orchard every second Wednesday for the past 15 years. “They say they’re sending five, could be 14,” Martin accentuated, “and sometimes police come.”
Martin said that she couldn’t have done the job alone and pointed out that there are more than 200 volunteers (mostly seniors) who help; whether it be setting up for congregate meals or sending birthday cards to local elders.
As a senior was leaving the party, Judy tells him she’ll see him at lunch, referring to the regular congregate meals in each municipality. “Because, where else can I go and get lunch for three bucks as a senior?” she quipped.
Garfield County Commissioner Tom Jankovsky said he has appreciated Martin’s dedication to the job and for instilling a sense of human connection within the program. “She’s going to be missed,” he said.
“She’s wonderful. I’m going to miss her,” added volunteer and friend, Regina Cross.
Martin has a stack of books she’ll finally have the time to read. She plans to garden and travel with friends and attend lots of concerts — “any genre except straight country.”
“I have Lyle Lovett tickets tonight over at the Avalon [Grand Junction]. Jeff Tweedy is next month. I have Foo Fighter tickets, and I think I want to go see Leftover Salmon … they are so good in-person” she outlined.
“I need to thank each of you for showing up, for being who you are and for welcoming me into your hearts,” she tearily concluded. “Thank you.”
During the celebration, Martin had several business cards with her personal contact information already hand-printed on the back. She’d readily hand them out, telling this reporter when pointing to the business side that she’d be available there only until the following Monday, and to reach her at home after that.