BY KRISTI FISH | MIRROR REPORTER — In recognition of the hard work and dedication of Ardis Dardenne to the Maumee Senior Center, the building that houses the organization was formally named the Ardis Dardenne Maumee Senior Center Building during a reception on February 15.
Ardis Dardenne, a longtime Maumee resident, has dedicated much of her life to helping others in the community. The Maumee Senior Center staff, along with city and state officials and her family, recognized her work after her retirement from the senior center’s board of directors.
Maumee Mayor Rich Carr announced at the reception that her name would forever be associated with the senior center and announced the naming of the building.
“I do a lot of proclamations and each one is extremely meaningful, but it wasn’t enough,” Carr noted in reference to the extra accolades conveyed by the building’s new name.
The senior center staff members also recognized the hard work put in by Ardis and announced the naming of the activities room formally to the Ardis Dardenne Activity Room.
“This was the room where we had all of our large fundraising events, large meals … that have taken place over the last 29 years,” MSC executive director Malinda Ruble explained.
Also at the reception was U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Toledo), who has known Ardis since 1982, when Kaptur was a new candidate.
“I remember introducing myself to you and you were just like you were today. You were so gracious, you were so kind, and you were so willing to give advice and to help,” Kaptur said to Ardis at the reception.
A representative from Gov. Mike DeWine’s office also congratulated Ardis on her many years of service to the area and for her help to the senior population.
All of the accolades and the crowd of attendees at the reception were surprising and overwhelming to Ardis, who said she didn’t need all of the thanks she was given.
“I do a lot of volunteer work and I always feel that I get more out of it than I can actually give,” Ardis said.
It’s apparent, though, to many in the area, that Ardis has given more than she ever needed to the senior center. She’s spent the past several decades dedicating herself to it.
Many years ago, when Ardis worked for a company that had a division for retirees, she noticed how important it was to provide resources and a sense of community for that specific demographic, and so she set out to bring a senior center to Maumee.
“It took quite a little effort, about six years, before we were able to actually open a senior center,” Ardis explained. “We had to convince Maumee they needed a senior center, we had to work with the Area Office on Aging for their approval and recommendations. All of this took a long time, but finally we did open.”
In 2000, the city of Maumee received a grant to purchase and renovate the space at 2430 S. Detroit Ave., where the senior center stands now.
“I don’t think any of us could have anticipated how much this building would impact so many lives in the years to follow,” Carr said.
The building has been furnished, expanded and filled with the help of many Maumee businesses, residents and organizations, along with help from the city and state.
With the help of all of those entities and the volunteers and staff members, the senior center has been able to provide a nutrition program, transportation, fitness classes, activities, informative classes, travel and more to its members.
One of the main people responsible for all of that is undoubtedly Ardis.
“When I first started as director 11 years ago, I was amazed at the energy and time Ardis dedicated to the Maumee Senior Center. Not only did she serve on the board, but she also baked, she cooked, she sewed, and she came up with successful fundraising ideas,” Ruble said. “She never tackled any of these projects on her own. From Dick, her husband, to her children and even the youngest grandchildren, they all pitched in to help. Ardis instilled the importance of volunteering and giving back to the community in her entire family.”
Ardis knows it’s important to give back to your community when possible, so even though she’s retired from the board of directors at the senior center, she’s not done volunteering.
She’s been volunteering for Helping Hands of St. Louis and has done her best to sew, bake and help in as many other ways as she can in the community.
“I’m grateful I have something I can give out to people,” Ardis said. “It’s a blessing to be able to do that.”
For others who are hoping to volunteer or get connected with organizations, Ardis recommends they just pick up the phone and call.
“There’s organizations all over asking for help,” Ardis said. “You just have to look around and you’ll find a spot where you belong.”
If anyone is interested in getting started, though, Ardis recommends they start with the senior center.
“We can’t do anything without help,” Ardis said. “You can’t operate without volunteers.”
As for the leadership at the senior center, Ardis is confident they’ll be able to handle things without her.
“Leaving my position at the senior center after all these years, I feel we have a very good board of directors with new fresh ideas, and we have the support of the city, so I feel I’m leaving them in good hands,” Ardis noted.