YEARS ON THE JOB: 11
HOW SHE GOT STARTED: Margie Swift attended the Community College of Baltimore County and received an associate's degree in special education. She volunteered at Meals on Wheels while attending college, then for a year after graduation went to work as an instructional aide with the Maryland School for the Blind.
She then took an entry-level position with the Baltimore County Department of Aging at the Ateaze Senior Center in Dundalk. She remained at the center for five years, moving up through the various positions. She was then promoted to director of the Victory Villa Senior Center and remained in that position for five years.
Eleven years ago she returned to the Ateaze Senior Center as director.
"I was always drawn to working in human services and with the disabled or aging," Swift said.
TYPICAL DAY: Swift runs the senior center with the help of two staff members and volunteer help.
"There are no two days alike," Swift said, who adds she has gotten very good at multitasking. "Whatever the need is. The first response is always to the membership."
Ateaze is a regional senior center with almost 1,500 members. Swift works from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
She oversees administrative needs and also any management issues of the 82-year old building. She administers the budget and must implement, promote and schedule various programs for the center.
About 60 classes are offered each week, including computer instruction, wood-carving, stained glass and craft classes. There's also table tennis, bocce ball and a Wii room. The Community College of Baltimore County offers on-site academic classes to members.
Swift must hire and make arrangements for the independent contractors who teach the various classes. She coordinates the efforts of about 150 volunteers who help at the center. Swift also works to promote the center to prospective members and the community. She works closely with the elected Ateaze Senior Center Council on fundraising goals and efforts.
MOST POPULAR: Exercise and dance classes that include yoga, Tai Chi and Zumba Gold. The fitness center, designed for adults over 60 years old and operated with Towson University, is also a big draw.
ATEAZE CYCLING SENIORS: Swift began this program in 1991. It includes both aggressive rides for more experienced cyclers and nonaggressive rides for those less experienced. The group bikes on Fridays nine months out of the year for 30 to 40 miles each week on designated trails throughout Maryland, Washington and Pennsylvania.
THE GOOD: "Interacting with the membership and introducing them to new opportunities," Swift said. "They come here because of our upbeat environment. It's my job to promote the positive."
THE BAD: "It's always challenging not having enough hours in the day."
PHILOSOPHY ON THE JOB: "It's important to have a good work ethic, and I think this is something that your children will imitate."
And because she must sometimes work on the weekends and evenings at events promoting the senior center and the Baltimore County Department of Aging, she adds, "In order to make everything work, it's important to have a supportive spouse."