For 82 year old Elsie Kenno, it was supposed to be just another day of volunteering at Wildwood Park in Harrisburg. But, on this day, her weekly routine was interrupted.
In the park sanctuary's community room, family, friends and fellow volunteers honored Elsie for more than 27 years service at Wildwood. And her dedication was officially recognized by Dauphin County Commissioners George Hartwick and Mike Pries. After listing Elsie's many duties and achievements during her time at the park, the commissioner declared: “We do hereby proclaim August 23, 2013, Elsie Kenno Day in Dauphin County.”
On a typical day at the park, Elsie's duties might include anything from greeting visitors to cleaning bird feeders, or teaching youngsters about their environment.
But helping others has always been a part of Elsie's life. She was the 12th of 16 children, and was orphaned at the age of seven. She says the challenges of her upbringing days made her even stronger.
“I did what needed to be done at the time,” she recalled of those childhood years. “As something presented itself, I tried to handle it.”
Prior to her volunteer work at Wildwood Park, Elise enjoyed a 50-year nursing career, from which she retired as Assistant-Director of Nursing at Harrisburg State Hospital. Away from her work, she shared a 53-year-marriage to Ronald Kenno and raised four sons. Years later, she traveled to all seven continents and Antarctica.
Elsie's son, Mark, says his mom is hard to keep up with. “She's 82 year old and she still gets out to do everything and see everybody,” And, she keeps a busy itinerary. It's hard to keep track of her. You gotta have UPS tracking on her,” he chuckled.
So, how does the honored guest celebrate her big day?
“I think I'm going home and relax,” said Elsie with a shy grin.. “And, maybe I'll have a glass of wine.”