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New interim director Janet Fosness brings family feel to North Bend senior center

Smiling and gesturing during lunch with members, new Mount Si Senior Center Interim Director Janet Fosness shares in a conversation Monday, Sept. 19. She is guiding the center in a time of shrinking revenues and new directions. - Carol Ladwig / Snoqualmie Valley Record
Smiling and gesturing during lunch with members, new Mount Si Senior Center Interim Director Janet Fosness shares in a conversation Monday, Sept. 19. She is guiding the center in a time of shrinking revenues and new directions.
— image credit: Carol Ladwig / Snoqualmie Valley Record

When Janet Fosness changed jobs in 1990, she was looking for something more fulfilling. What she found was a second family, and a career she could love.

Now the interim director of the Mount Si Senior Center, Fosness was hired then by her friend, Ruth Tolmasoff, to help her run and grow the community center. At the time, she probably didn’t realize she’d stay for 21 years, and counting.

“I was a camp cook at Camp Waskowitz, so basically I traded fourth and fifth graders for 55- and 65-year-olds,” she laughed.

Joking or not, the move was a trade up for Fosness, who took on the interim director role Sept. 2 when Tolmasoff retired. She explained that she’s stayed with the center because “You get to know the seniors and it’s kind of like a real family ... It’s a different job every day, and it’s fun.”

Fosness has held the job of interim director since Tolmasoff retired Sept. 2, but she hopes the Board of Directors chooses to make the position permanent for her. It’s the job she wants, not necessarily the title, though.

When she worked with Tolmasoff, she said, “We never went too much on titles because what one didn’t do, the other one did.”

She’s seen lots of changes in the center over the years, including a flood and renovation, expanded programs, and the creation of the nutrition and transportation programs. There’s a lot that she still wants to do, and the difficult economy really seems to be just one more problem to solve.

Grants and contributions from the state, King County, Cities of Seattle, North Bend and Snoqualmie, and other sources have been gradually shrinking, and Fosness expects that trend to continue.

“But I’m not dependent on that money, I’d like to raise more on our own,” she said.

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