Bounous, who will turn 62 in July, decided to step down after her daughter, Megan, and son-in-law, Daniel Hoyt, made plans to move to Joplin. Hoyt is a urologist and will be joining a private practice in Joplin. Bounous said she wants to have more time to spend with her grandchildren.
Bounous plans to continue her involvement with the Senior Center by running for a board seat.
"We have the best board ever to work with," Bounous said. "We've replaced everything: the silverware, the parking lot, the stove, the refrigerator, the ice machine, on and on. I feel good about leaving it in pretty good shape."
Bounous was able to quickly identify ways her skills have changed since she started working at the center.
"My computer skills have gotten much better," Bounous said. "I think I'm a lot more patient and caring. I love these people. They're my kids, just older kids. I lost my parents to cancer when I was in my 20s. They're all my parents."
The current economy and cuts in state funding for senior services make this an interesting time to look back on changes at the Monett Center since Bounous started.
"The budget now is $150,000 short," Bounous said. "Our people are making a financial donation at the salad bar. We're looking at raising the contribution, but we don't know how much yet. All the staff has had to take unpaid furlough days. We're going to take our third on May 28."
The hot meal home delivery program is causing a major part of the shortfall. Bounous said meals continue to be delivered without turning people away, even though the state is paying only 23 cents of the $5.11 per meal cost.
"People are reluctant to ask for food," Bounous said. "There's more need and less funding. People don't have as much to spend on food for themselves. They're either off Medicaid or put on a spend down. It's just like when I was a school teacher for 11 years. There's more to do and less funding to do it."
Bounous observed the people served by the center are now younger, more in their 70s instead of having a group in their 80s and 90s.
Bounous had a few tips for the next director.
"I would say love the people you're working with," Bounous said. "Be patient. Everyone's an individual. Everyone wants to be cared about. They're the same as kids. I often say we're more than a meal. We check on people. If they're not here, sometimes we have to hotline them."
Bounous shared what she will miss the most from the job.
"It's the people," she said, "just like it was the kids I missed the most from teaching. These are wonderful people. They're very close. If one gets sick, we all feel it."
Bounous recalled it is also easy to underestimate the seniors. She said their interests may be surprising, like being more inclined to go to the Downstream Casino than taking in a show in Branson.
"We all get to be old, unless we die," Bounous said. "Around here we say our golden years were in our 30s. We were just too stupid to realize it. I've also found out the hearing goes first, then the knees."
Bounous also had a few words of wisdom to pass on to the seniors concerning her successor.
"Change is hard. Be patient," Bounous said. "Get to know them. Give whoever gets the job a chance."
The reception on Sunday will be from 2 to 4 p.m. at the center, 405 Dairy St.