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Bloomfield Township

April 2, 2013

Former trustee says goodbye to Friendship Club

Sherry Stefanes retires after decades of service to township

By Robin Ruehlen
C & G Staff Writer

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Former trustee says goodbye to Friendship Club
Sherry Stefanes, former township trustee and activities assistant at the Friendship Club, said she will miss watching the organization grow.

BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP — After 20 years of serving Bloomfield Township as a trustee, committee member and volunteer, Sherry Stefanes is preparing to embark on a new adventure – retirement.

On March 25, Stefanes celebrated her last day as the activities assistant at the Bloomfield Township Senior Center’s Friendship Club Adult Day Service, an endeavor that has been dear to her since the start of the township’s Senior Services program in 2003.

“At that time, the senior programs were offered as part of the Bloomfield Hills Schools District, so when the opportunity to take that over was presented to us, I thought it would good do something for our seniors,” she said. 

“Both of my parents had dementia and lived with me for a period of time, so I understood the challenges these families have, and the Adult Day Service would be a great asset to our community and a way to help seniors stay in their homes.”

The Friendship Club is a community-based program dedicated to assisting older adults with Alzheimer’s disease and related memory disorders to maintain their highest level of ability in a stimulating, caring environment. This partnership also enables families to keep loved ones at home by providing much-needed respite and support.

Stefanes, a former art educator, started as a volunteer with Jewish Vocational Services, which initially provided contract employees for the various day service programs.

“When the Senior Center was built, I felt very strongly that we needed to run the program ourselves, and that we could do it very well,” she said.

When the township later ended its contract with JVS, Stefanes resigned from the board and became an employee of the Senior Center, developing activities, such as music and art therapy, reminiscence therapy, outings, exercise and socialization programs — all areas she describes as “very important” for those coping with dementia.

“This has been a very important part of me. I gave an awful lot of my time and energy to it, and I’m very proud of what we have. I think everyone recognizes that this is an outstanding program,” Stefanes said.

“I will miss watching it grow, as well as the staff and the families. They are friends in so many ways.”

Bloomfield Township Senior Services Director Christine Tvaroha said Stefanes began her career with the township in 1993, when she began serving on the Zoning Board of Appeals. She was later appointed to the Board of Trustees in 1995 and elected in 1996, 2000 and 2004. She served on the Planning Commission from 2002-2007 and continued serving on the ZBA through 2011.

“She took every opportunity to educate the public and encourage her peers to consider senior services and support it. I credit her work in getting us to where we are today, not just the Friendship Club, but overall, our entire department,” Tvaroha said.

“She’s done a fabulous job these past four years, and she always focused on providing a high-quality experience for our members. She has always put them first, and I’m so grateful for the time she spent with us.”

Stefanes is also an immediate past-president of the Birmingham Bloomfield Community Coalition, and past president of the Bloomfield Village Board of Trustees and the Albion College Alumni Board of Trustees. She has held leadership positions in the Women Officials Network, several Birmingham Public Schools parent groups, the Junior League of Birmingham and the Pontiac Art Center, and she has served as a district liaison for former state Rep. Shelley Goodman Taub.

As she prepares to make a permanent move to Northern Michigan, Stefanes quipped, “I’m not sure what this whole adventure will bring me at this point.

“I certainly hope to come back and visit. We still have family here and a lot of friends,” she said.

For more information or a tour of the Friendship Club, call Julie GeBott at (248) 723-3500, or visit www.bloomfieldtwp.org and select Senior Services under the Services tab.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Robin Ruehlen at rruehlen@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1105.