Face to Face: Bonner Springs Senior Center’s Gloria Ochoa
Name: Gloria Ochoa
Birthplace: Kansas City, Mo.
Family: Husband, Greg Sr.; children, Greg, Jr., and Crystal; three grandchildren, Skyler and Dylan Ochoa and Mariana Martinez
Occupation: Director, Bonner Springs Senior Center
Dream job as a child: A teacher.
Ochoa said she was inspired by a cousin who was a teacher because Ochoa had always looked up to her. But Ochoa took secretarial courses during high school that she found she really enjoyed, so she ended up getting a job with JE Dunn right out of high school that she kept for 25 years.
Hobbies: Ochoa said she loves to read and spend time outdoors, but she dedicates most of her free time to her grandchildren.
Digging deeper: Ochoa has had a colorful career. In addition to her time with JE Dunn, she also worked with K.C. Construction in Basehor and a recreational vehicle supplier in Tonganoxie before joining the city of Bonner Springs. Additionally, her family owned Gregorio's Mexican Restaurant in Tonganoxie for 10 years.
But she says she really enjoys working at the senior center, particularly planning new, fun and informational activities for the members. She carries on the tradition of planning excursions to the New Theater Restaurant in Overland Park and tours of metro area museums and landmarks.
And of course, there's the senior center's big annual event, the spaghetti dinner, which raises funds for the college scholarships they provide to Bonner Springs High School seniors.
She said lowering the senior center membership's minimum age from 60 to 55 has helped bring in some new members, though she's still making an effort to spread the word.
"We've had a younger generation coming to the senior center," she said. "... we're looking to a new generation, and it seems to be working really well."
In the last year, Ochoa started regular yoga, tai chi and line dancing programs, which proved to be very popular and, after a break for the winter, will be starting up again soon.
For the last two months, 12 of the senior center members have been tutoring second graders in reading at Bonner Springs Elementary School for an hour every Tuesday.
"That's really interesting," she said. "It's been really rewarding to help them."