Johnston Senior Center Kitchen Manager Brenda Martin celebrated after 20 years at her post


It was closing in on noon last Friday and Matt Bolton, the executive director of the Johnston Senior Center as well as Supervisor Jacquelyn Bell-Conroy were walking swiftly in-and-out of several offices into the nearly full dining room, making sure every detail of a planned celebration was in place.

Meanwhile, Assistant Director Denise Bell was going over important issues with Brenda Martin, the JSC’s beloved Kitchen Manager.

But that was only a cover-up, a way to keep Martin busy as Bolton later noted, for what would transpire almost as soon as Mayor Joseph Polisena arrived at the nationally-accredited JSC, which was once the famed El Marocco Supper Club located at 1291 Hartford Ave.

With everything in place — and JSC members enjoying the day’s lunch — Denise Bell walked with Martin into the spacious room amid cheers and applause for as Polisena proclaimed: “This is truly a special day for a special lady.”

Needless to say, “That’s so special; Brenda is obviously surprised!” people like Polisena’s administrative assistant Janet Whiteley concurred as she was immediately embraced by the mayor who was on hand for not one but two “extra special presentations for an extraordinary lady.”

The first was a Town of Johnston Official Commendation for Martin who was celebrating her 20th anniversary working at the JSC.

“Be it herby known to all that the Mayor’s Office and the citizens of the Town of Johnston hereby offer sincere congratulations to Brenda Martin, Kitchen Manager at the JSC, upon your 20th anniversary employed at the Center,” Polisena began. “It is with deep appreciation to recognize you for your unwavering dedication, diligence and unselfish commitment to the senior citizens of our town. Representing all the residents, I hereby offer sincere gratitude and praise, with best wishes to you in the future.”

There was yet a second presentation, one that Polisena said is reserved for special people who have made outstanding contributions to the town and its residents.

The Mayor, who had a special smile on his face and heart-warming ring in his voice, then handed Martin a wooden case that contained a key to the town that further enhanced the day’s ceremony and was greeted by oohs and aahs from a number of seniors who she has served for two decades and counting.

Needless to say, Martin continued to be overwhelmed with the excitement, but would also receive more gifts, cards, a specially decorated cake and tall vase of flowers that were as colorful as the work she has performed during her JSC tenure.

“Brenda has always been loyal to us,” Denise Bell offered amid more applause. “Anything we ask her to do — she does! We are so fortunate to have Brenda as a valuable member of our staff.”

To which Bolton, who is in his first year as the JSC leader, added: “Having only been her for a year, I haven’t been as lucky as many of our staff, who were able to work with Brenda for much of her 20 years of service to the JSC. As Director, I immediately realized how much of an invaluable resource Brenda is to us. We are so lucky to have such a wonderful person work here for 20 years.”

Bolton then paused before concluding: “It is a testament to her dedication to the town that everyone who has walked in through our doors for two decades and is greeted by her smile and cheerful personality. While Kitchen Manager may be her title, Brenda’s real title should be the Heart of the Senior Center.”


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