Terri Roza

Terri Roza of the Pecos Senior Center.

Allison Hurtado/AFN

In two and a half years and after helping form art and craft fairs, rummage sales, community partnerships, and new classes at the Pecos Senior Center, Terri Roza said all she did for the senior center was help the seniors see that they are in control.

“What I think I did the most there was help the seniors understand that they are the biggest help they can give to one another,” Roza said. “I might have started a bunch of things that helped promote the senior center, but the seniors ran with that. The seniors put on the arts and crafts fair and the rummage sale. The seniors were there to promote themselves. I think that’s what I did for two and a half years, was help them understand that they were in control of the senior center.”

Roza quietly retired as director of the senior center in February. She said though she’s gone the senior center will still be in good hands.

“They’re in their own hands and that’s the best part,” she said. “There will be people who come along and guide them, but I think in essence they’ve learned they can do it themselves. They can create these opportunities to keep the place lively and engaged and give them some socialization that’s really important for them as seniors.”

With no family nearby, Roza bought a house in Chino Valley a year ago with the intention of retiring there. She hopes the spacious home, located on three acres of land, will someday serve as a healing center for victims of all kinds of trauma. It’s always been a dream for Roza, who has a history in the nonprofit world aiding victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault.

“I am a licensed professional counselor,” she said. “I have the capability of opening private practice or whatever it is I want to do here. It’s not exactly clear yet. Right now it’s sitting in the fertile void trying to figure out how this is all going to look.”

The “fertile void,” Roza said, is standing in one spot not knowing exactly what is coming but taking comfort in the fact that there are opportunities surrounding you. The experiences she had running the senior center will definitely be useful as she decides what direction to go in.

“The senior center helped me a lot in trying to realize my destiny in trying to work with the community,” Roza said. “I love that community. There are so many people there willing to help.”

Arlene Cummings, a volunteer at the senior center, said it’s Roza’s ability to reach out to the community that will be missed the most.

“I have mixed emotions,” Cummings said. “I’m happy for her. I remember what it was like to retire. It’s nice to get away from that routine, so I’m tremendously happy for her. But I’m sad about the things she was really working hard on here. She accomplished a lot. From my perspective, I was sad to see her go. She did so much different than we had ever experienced here.”

Tere Garcia, senior center assistant, said Roza will be missed. There is no one currently filling Roza’s position so doing more with less is always difficult.

“She’s missed,” Garcia said. “She did a lot for the center as far as getting involved with the community. She’s missed, and she will be missed in the community.”

Roza played an important role in bringing the first Senior Symposium, put on by the Senior Advocacy Group of Ahwatukee (SAGA), to the Pecos Senior Center in November of 2012. SAGA and the Senior Center plan on hosting a second symposium this year.

“Terri did an outstanding job for her Pecos Senior Center providing a wide variety of activities for mind, body, and spirit with her programs,” said Linda Jochim, community outreach specialist for YMCA’s Outreach Program for Ahwatukee Seniors (YOPAS). “She sincerely cared for the seniors in her care. Terri was also a very active community partner in Ahwatukee Community Network and helped form the SAGA. Terri was generous with her time, talent, and resources to the other senior programs in Ahwatukee ... she will be missed by all that got to work with her.”

The Pecos Senior Center is located at 17010 S. 48th St. For more information, visit phoenix.gov/seniorcenters or call (602) 534-5366.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or ahurtado@ahwatukee.com.

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