Nearing 20 Years of a Labor of Love for Peggy Burgess

Twenty years ago, Peggy Burgess was raising a grandson by herself and working part time at the Gardendale Library at 64 years old, she needed a full time job and one with benefits. “I prayed for a full time job and a car and an apartment. I sat down and wrote a letter to God and I said ‘Dear Daddy God,’ this is what I need.” Three days later, God answered Peggy’s letter and she became the Director of the new Gardendale Senior Center. “Sometimes you don’t have because you don’t ask,” Peggy told me.

Hired by former Gardendale Mayor, Kenny Clemons, Peggy set out to spend a year doing all
that was needed for the senior center to be ready to open in 2003.

“When I came in it wasn’t finished. It was cement floors, studs and walls.
They had not finished the brickwork yet.”

Peggy says that her first office as Director was actually in the Gardendale Library and
then she moved to a shared office with a supervisor at the Gardendale Civic Center.
But the year before the center opened gave her the gift of doing something she had
always wanted to do. “I always wanted to build a house and the city gave me that
opportunity. This has been my baby. I went home every day excited.”

Over the 20 years Peggy has now been Director of the Senior Center, it has been an
ever present part of her life. “I live here. Even when I go home my mind keeps coming
back over here solving different problems and planning.”

To Peggy, working at the center is a calling. “I feel privileged to have served in this
capacity for the city.”