GROTON -- After 11 years on the job, the town's Council on Aging director said she is ready for retirement amid the balmy breezes and relaxed lifestyle of the Sunshine State.
"My future goals are going to be like every other person in the world," said Martha Campbell. "I think I have a few books to write and publish and I want to move to Florida and become a Floridian. I have plenty of friends in Massachusetts to come back and visit, but Florida is where I want to live out the rest of my life."
Due to retire on June 30, Campbell surprised many in town with her announcement that she would be leaving her post four months early.
"I originally was going to retire on June 30 but I had a little medical problem and decided to push it up a couple of months," said Campbell.
In a recent incident, Campbell suffered a mild stroke which prompted her consideration not to waste any time in ridding her life of needless stress.
Campbell first took the job of director of the town's Council on Aging in 2002 when she impressed her interviewers with forward looking ideas.
"I had just graduated from Lesly University in Boston and had just completed my thesis on the quality of life of the baby boomers as they age," said Campbell. "I saw the advertizement for the director's job in Groton on line and since one of my goals was to be a Council on Aging director, I applied for the job and out of 30 applicants, they chose me because they said I was a visionary...
Before coming to Groton, Campbell also had some real world experience to bring to bear on her new job.
"I worked for Cooperative Elder Services for three and half years," Campbell said. "I ran one of their sites in Burlington. I was a consultant for their activity departments."
Upon taking the position as director, Campbell said she had some modest goals which over the years, she managed to attain.
"My first goal when I became director was to learn the job, which I did," said Campbell. "Then as the years passed, I realized that having a national accreditation would be very important for us and we were duly accredited in 2008. We were rated in the top 1 percent in the nation and in the top 3 percent in Massachusetts.
"Another goal I had was to increase our staff," continued Campbell. "When I started, we employed all part timers. Today, we employ five people and only two of them, van drivers, are part time."
Along the way, Campbell also became only one of a handful of people in Massachusetts to be officially certified as a Council on Aging director by the Massachusetts Association of Councils On Aging (MCOA) and Senior Center Directors paving the way for accreditation for the town's Senior Center.
But the work goes on, cautioned Campbell.
"In the year 2025, according to the 2010 census, half the population of Groton will be senior citizens," said Campbell. "Right now, we're in the top ten fastest growing towns in Massachusetts in terms of senior population. So, I see my successor as having to meet the needs of this growing population. To do that, programming is going to be the key. And, of course, they're going to have to increase transportation because it will be very much needed."
Nevertheless, Campbell expressed satisfaction at how the Senior Center has managed to penetrate the town's senior population, reaching most of them in one way or another.
"When I first started, we were servicing 700 seniors and last year our services covered over 2,500 of an estimated 2,600 seniors in town," observed Campbell. "So, I'm very happy with the increase because it shows that we had good programs and a good staff on board and were able to identify the needs of our seniors."
At the moment, the town will begin its search for Campbell's replacement but Campbell herself said she had no idea if she would be needed to help in a transition of leadership.
What she is sure of are her feelings for the job and having been director for so many years.
"I have loved my job," insisted Campbell. "I loved it because of the people that I served."