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Nutrition Center welcomes new face, honors retiree

While Anita West is no stranger to the Luverne Senior Nutritional Center, this will be her first time taking on the role of driector after the retirment of her mother, Brunese Thomas. (Photo by Beth Hyatt)

While Anita West is no stranger to the Luverne Senior Nutritional Center, this will be her first time taking on the role of driector after the retirment of her mother, Brunese Thomas. (Photo by Beth Hyatt)

After almost 24 years of dedicated service to the Luverne Senior Nutritional Center, Brunese Thomas will be retiring from her position as center director.

“I have seen a lot of people come and go, I’ve seen new ones come in and out, but you have to be able to love people and understand older people as you go,” said Thomas.

With the passing of the torch comes a new but familiar face to the locals in the center. Thomas’ daughter, Anita West, formally accepted the job and was recognized by Mayor Pat Walker at the recent City Council meeting.

While Thomas is filled with joy at the thought of her daughter taking her place, she is also reminded of the memories she has made over the years and is sad to see her time come to an end. Thomas says that there have been ups and downs in her career, but as a whole she has greatly enjoyed her time at the center.

“The hardest part of the job is getting your quota every day and being sure you can cover the meals,” said Thomas.

“Sometimes this is the only hot meal they will get.”

Even though Thomas will bid the center goodbye as a director, her name has already been added to the role as a participant. In her free time away from the center, Thomas plans to get back to gardening, spending time outside and continuing to help out at the center whenever she’s needed.

When asked what the most memorable part of her time at the center has been, Thomas responded, “Knowing that the people care for me. Knowing that you feel like you’ve done something. When we deliver to a homebound and then that person calls and tells me how much they appreciated it, that does something for you. You feel like you’re helping and encouraging someone.”

While it may be hard for Thomas to transition from the position of director to participant, she is confident that the center is going to capable and caring hands. Her time as director has been challenging but rewarding beyond measure, according to Thomas.

“You get your reward from seeing the smiles. It does you good to see that people can care for each other,” said Thomas.

“We have a good group that helps each other. It’s a blessing that this many people can come out here and get along and be happy that they’re here. When this came open, Anita said mother you love people. So you’ll love this. Now I’m telling her that.”

West knows the importance of keeping the center up and thriving because of the importance it plays to the citizens that visit daily. She hopes to continue the reputation that has already been set by her mother, and she also hopes to grow and build up the programs.

“This is the one hot meal a lot of them get. For the home bound, it’s somebody going in and checking on them. A lot of them don’t have any family or children; this is their family. I prayed and I felt like this was where God led me,” said West.

“I’m following big shoes. I hope to keep our quota, get new ones if we need to and if we can do outreach and get the people here, we’ll up our number in October. We’re looking forward to working with them. I love older people. I just hope someday when I get old, someone will look after me.”