Surrounded by family, saying 'I do'
By Aaron Moore
Published in News on June 20, 2010 1:50 AM
Johnny Davis places the ring on Nancy Gendreau's finger during their marriage ceremony at the Wayne County Senior Center.
Nancy Gendreau and Johnny Davis take their first steps as man and wife after getting married at the Wayne County Senior Center. Their marriage was a first for the senior center. Gendreau, a longtime employee at the center, had it there because she considers the seniors part of her family.
Most people would never think to have their weddings where they work -- but most people don't love their work as much as Nancy Gendreau does.
Nancy married her boyfriend of five months, Johnny Davis, Thursday at the Wayne County Senior Center on John Street. Nancy has been employed as a social worker at the center for eight years, and she is currently the information and assistance specialist.
"She's the person they go to if they need information. She has a lot of interaction with the seniors and she's very popular with the seniors. She considers them part of her family," Eryn McAuliffe, director of Wayne County Services on Aging, said.
In fact, Nancy considers the members of the senior center so much like family that she decided it wouldn't be right if she got married without them. She has been such an important part of their lives for so long that they wanted to share in her special day and see her happy, McAuliffe said.
The problem, though, was that so many of the seniors don't own cars, and it would have been difficult to transport them anywhere for a ceremony. So instead of having her wedding in a church, Nancy and her co-workers cleared out the dining area of the senior center and made it into a wedding chapel of their own, complete with a white archway, lots of flowers and a long white carpet leading up to the altar.
However, Nancy did not have to take all the planning and decorating into her own hands. After all, that's what family is for. The seniors of the center rose to the occasion and had flowers, food and decorations brought in to save Nancy the trouble.
"She's a very good person. She's very thoughtful, very helpful," Shirley Jones, a member at the senior center who has known Nancy since she began working there eight years ago, said. "If you had a problem, she would look out for you."
Jones said she has known Nancy the longest at the center, and Nancy has always been around to help when she was needed, including when Jones' own mother was hospitalized and Nancy came to pick her up from the center.
"This is my family," Nancy said simply, discussing how she began developing close relationships with the seniors within her first year at the center, and how those friendships have only gotten stronger.
They couldn't have gone to the wedding anywhere else, she explained, so she thought, "Why not have it here?"
Nancy's new husband, Johnny, has never worked at the senior center, and many of the members are only just getting to know him, but Nancy said they are quickly accepting him into the family, and they are all glad to see that she has found happiness with him.
The fact that they are both veterans is important to Nancy and Johnny. Before she joined the Wayne County Senior Center, Nancy served in the U.S. Navy, while Johnny served in the Army.
"That's a story in itself," one of Nancy's friends joked as they prepped her for the ceremony, and Nancy just smiled.
Rose Joyner, who is a receptionist at the senior center as well as a co-pastor at Miracle Revival Center in Kinston, married Nancy and Johnny. She has known Nancy for two years and said it was the first wedding she has ever done by herself, but she was glad to do it for Nancy.
"She's a lovely person," Rose said. "She's wonderful."