Janet Holmes always tries to find the positive in what she does

Janet Holmes always tries to find the positive in what she does

One More Thing

Janet Holmes is in her fifth year as director of the Tiverton Senior Center. That means that each day each way she has an hour or more commute from Smithfield. She relishes it.

“I never wake up and say, ‘Oh I’ve got to go to work.’ No, I love it.”

She makes good use of the time, listening to audio books on CDs and thinking of new ideas to suggest to the 600 to 700 members of the center.

“Our senior center has become my second home, and I try to keep that ‘homey’ feeling for those that come inside,” she says. Then candidly she adds, “I truly enjoy working with the elderly. Sometimes they are brutally honest, so you need to have thick skin around them. You may have to repeat yourself a few times, but they just want to be treated respectfully.”

As with many public facilities, the COVID-19 lockdown has been a challenge for the center.

“We were thrilled to reopen our doors to activities beginning May 1 with an open house and craft sale. We are blessed with a huge group of ladies who knit, crochet, and quilt, and make beautiful, unique items,” she notes.

“They never stopped producing during the 14 months we were closed. All the proceeds from sales go to a charity (called) Star Kids Scholarship Program. Last year we were able to give them $6,000.”

She adds, “During the COVID pandemic, my staff and I still worked daily.”

Janet explains that while in-person gatherings were suspended, the center never closed.

“We continued to provide needed information and would meet one-on-one when folks needed medical equipment or assistance.”

They also converted the center’s meal site into a bag lunch and delivery program.

At age 57, Janet has had a variety of jobs through the years, including serving as a substitute teachers’ aide in Foster and the Smithfield elementary schools. Later, she got a permanent part-time job assisting with at-risk 1st-, 2nd-, and 3rd-grade reading students at Old County Road School.

“I greatly enjoyed working there and spent five years,” she declares. “Every time you have another job you pick something up. You put these things in your bag of tricks, so to speak. You get to know what to do in certain situations.”

Holmes holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Rhode Island and two associate degrees from CCRI, one in special education and one in early childhood education.

There have been several other notable positions for her before she got her current post, including case manager and preschool teacher with the Head Start program in Woonsocket and several positions over 11 years with the East Bay Community Action Program. Her last six years there were spent running the Senior Health Insurance Program, an experience that has been useful in her current role.

Janet is only the third director of the Tiverton Senior Center in 31 years.

“When I got the job, I felt like I had won the lottery,” she remarks with a chuckle. “I try to make it have that comfortable feeling. It’s been a good fit for me.”

She becomes very candid, revealing what motivates her outlook and her attitude toward her career.

“I just feel like I’m a very fortunate person,” she says earnestly. “I try to find the positive in everything I do.” Then she discloses that she is diabetic and has been for years.

“I have a pump that regulates the insulin and keeps me in balance,” she divulges.

“It’s a gift to other people to keep yourself as healthy as you can. She continues, “I think you have to have some kind of faith. Knowing that there is a bigger power than yourself.”

“Life is too short. So, if you have a choice, why choose to be negative?”

Born Janet Marcotte, she grew up in Cumberland and graduated from the high school there, but she and her husband, Christopher have lived in the Esmond section of Smithfield for 33 years.

“I like the area very much,” she declares. In fact, after a while her parents liked it as much and also moved to town.

The couple have three adult children, Benjamin, who lives in Connecticut, Emily, who is in New Jersey, and John Daniel, who is a teacher in Arkansas.

Summing up her experiences, Janet Holmes says, “For the most part, I’ve chosen jobs that would help in some way.” The evidence seems abundant.

(Contact me at smithpublarry@gmail.com)

Bottom Lines

For many years patrons of a bar and grill across from the Waterman’s Lake field on Route 44 where the Greenville Volunteer Fire Company held its annual Fourth of July carnival had some of the best seats for the much remembered fireworks display. The first person who sends me the name of the establishment gets a shout out here.