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The community turned out Friday, July 29, to give their best wishes to the retiring executive director.

PMG PHOTO: SCOTT KEITH - Former St. Helens Senior Center executive director Kathy Innocenti surrounded by friends at her retirement party. Shortly after noon on Friday, July 29, Kathy Innocenti discovered just how many friends she has.

That's because a full house turned out for her retirement party, held at the St. Helens Senior Center.

Innocenti served as the center's executive director until her recent decision to retire.

She took over as interim executive director at the center in January 2019, replacing Cheryl Young, who retired. In March of that year, Innocenti was given the permanent executive director post. Innocenti also volunteered as manager of the Top Notch thrift store, where store sales help fund the senior center.

Her official retirement date at the senior center was July 31.

Innocenti was pleased to see the big turnout.

"It just makes me feel so good," she said. "I'm really going to miss everybody. I just appreciate our board of directors. They've been an amazing team to work with. Working with Justin Watson (the new executive director) these last couple of months, getting him up to speed … he will do fine. He's going to do an amazing job."

Watson is settling into his new position at the St. Helens Senior Center.

"The senior center is actually doing really well," he said. "The turnout today for Kathy's retirement was really phenomenal. I was really happy to see the community outpour of support for the senior center and for Kathy."

Having taken over as manager of Top Notch, Jeremy Goudge had high praise for Innocenti.

"Kathy was very loved," Goudge said. "I'm really glad that there's a lot of people here for her."

Goudge said it's a "huge deal" to take over the store from Innocenti. "It's big shoes to fill," he said. "I'm very honored that I was chosen."

Innocenti will continue to volunteer at the thrift store and will finally have time for gardening and home projects. She'd like to travel, she added, but she's thinking that she will wait until airports are running more smoothly again.

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