In the kitchen with Gail Kahler

| 05 Jul 2012 | 12:06

Gail Kahler was born and raised in Pennsylvania but now she’s all about West Milford, more specifically, her interests lie with the town’s older residents.As the supervisor of Senior Activities withinthe department of Community Services and Recreation, Kahler keeps seniors active and entertained.

Kahler, 60, moved to West Milford in 1988.She is the mother of two adult children, Michelle and Jason, and the grandmother of three.

She’s had a varied work history; secretary, waitress and retail clerk.In 1989 she was hired as a part-time clerk/typist in the Older Adults Services department of Community Services and Recreation.

“There was an ad in the paper and I went right up and applied for it.I learned the job and worked my way up,” she said.By 2000, she was promoted to supervisor.Kahler had found her niche.

Her main focus is to implement programs and activities for seniors.Keeping it interestingcomes naturally to Kahler. Just to name a few, seniors can choose from a walking club or tai chi classes, take line dancing lessons, join in a card game, enjoy a monthly breakfast, a holiday party or a picnic or, for the sports minded, they can jointhe Senior Olympics team.

Sixty is the magic number for senior programs but for the dance socials she organizes four to five times a year at the Elks club in West Milford, the youngsters, age 50 and up, are more than welcome.

The dances tend to have a theme, the most recenta 50s Sock Hop where poodle skirts, black and white oxford shoes, and black leather jackets were spotted.A root beer float station and a DJ in Elvis costume completed the walk back in time.

Some folks come out to dance all night, and these older residentsknow how to “cut a rug.”Others just enjoy a local night on the town.Kahler is usually the first on the dance floor no matter the genre of the music.Then she likes to just step back and watch people enjoying themselves.

She knows how her programs are being accepted in the community when within a week of an event the phone calls start coming in to say “sign me up” for the next event.

In all, Kahler plans about 30 programs and special events annually.As with all township departments she must work within a budget.She keeps all fees as low as possible and is proud that she’s never gone over budget.

“I’m pretty good with stretching a dollar,” she said.She puts her money where her mouth is when, with a little help from her friends, she takes care of setting up and cleaning up after dances, keeping the ticket price to $10.

Kahler also serves as a local counselor for seniors who are having difficulties with Medicare or supplement programs.She stays up-to-date by taking classes twice yearly and is proficient in helpingresidentsfind their way through the maze of paperwork.She is available for consultation by calling her office at Community Services and Recreation.

The most tedious part of her job is the paperwork but seeing the seniors enjoy themselves,keeping them active in mind and body, more than makes up for that.She gets a lot of “repeat customers” so she knows she’s on the right track.

To watch Kahler on the dance floor one would think she’s been a dancing queen all her life.Not so.About three years ago her gentleman friend, Carlo Fioranelli, suggested that they take dancing lessons from local instructors Joe and Nancy Florio.After a year of formal lessons, they took to YouTube for further instructions and practiced new dances at home.Now they dance routinely and Kahler is loving every step.

When day is done, Kahler likes to get outher crochet hook and create baby clothes and blankets.She enjoys spending time with her family and, while her son and his family do not live nearby,you often see her daughter at the local dances, helping out and hitting the dance floor with her mom.

There’s not much time after a day at work for cooking so she keeps mealtimes simple.She sent in a recipe for a favorite family dessert, one that may require a Macarena or some country line dancing to burn off the calories.

For information on senior programs call Kahler at 973-728-2871 or e-mail her at