There was no shortage of tears and stories at the Dexter Senior Center on Sunday during a farewell reception for center director Kim Martini.
Martini has served the center's members since taking over in 2008, and is moving to Vancouver, British Columbia for her husband's job.
"I'll miss the people the most," Martini said. "I believe I'm leaving the center in a better place overall than when I started."
The Martini’s will retain ownership of their home in Webster Township, and plan on returning to the community after a three-year commitment.
"Our daughter will graduate from Dexter High School in June, and our other daughter is a student at Michigan State University, so we'll be back," Martini said.
Dexter Village Trustee Paul Cousins said Martini is leaving big shoes to fill.
"Kim has been a phenomenal asset to the community and the center," he said. "She's such a delight; we wish her luck in the future."
Under Martini's leadership, the senior center boasted more than 300 active members in 2011. She has also helped double the amount of programs and events for senior center members.
During her tenure the center added a computer lab, sky panel lights, a Nintendo Wii bowling group, new carpet, programs, and other updates to the center’s interior.
"It's just amazing all the different events that are available to seniors," Cousins said.
Dick Ulrich, a volunteer with the Meals on Wheels program, said Martini's leadership will be missed.
"She put this place on the map," he said. "Everything you see here is because of Kim."
Jim Reisinger said while he will miss Martini's smiling face, he is looking forward to working with new center director, Katie Stirling.
"When Kim started, it was the beginning of a new era, and that's kind of what we're seeing with Katie," he said. "Katie's experience is a good fit for the center's growth."
Stirling, 22, a graduate of Michigan State University, has a degree in health studies and previously worked for the Ann Arbor Senior Center.
"I knew early on that I wanted to help people. There's so many different ways to accomplish that goal," she said. "I've learned a lot from working with seniors in Ann Arbor, and I'll bring that knowledge with me to Dexter."
Stirling said she spent the week learning the ropes with Martini, including the center's daily operations, budget, and learning members' names.
"I'm excited (to get started). Hopefully I can continue the same level of enthusiasm for the center that Kim built up in the community," she said.