In 2008, Kathi Clotfelter divorced, lost her step-father and learned her mother would battle Alzheimer's disease for the rest of her life.
"At the time, you say what in the world is going on and why is this happening," she said, "but, the Lord has the bigger picture."
By then Clotfelterr was already working at the city of Snellville -- first as a special events coordinator in 2001, then as program supervisor at the senior center in 2002. So, she moved to Snellville from Loganville and vowed to take care of her mother as long as she could.
"I just really feel like the Lord worked the timing out to where I could be there to take care of my mom," said Clotfelter, 47.
She was able to bring her mother, who is now 77, to the senior center to interact with others, while Clotfelter worked to support her family. The senior center volunteers and participants truly took her mother in, Clotfelter added.
"They have been so sweet, just so precious to take her in," she said.
Eventually, it became clear that her mother needed full-time, around-the-clock care, though. Recently, Clotfelter transferred her mother to Eastside Gardens. But, she still goes "every other day" to check in on and care for mom.
It's given her a greater understanding of the children of parents who come to the senior center. They come searching for fun and meaningful activities to fill their parents' time. Those ages 62 and older are welcome.
"At this point in their life they should be enjoying life," Clotfelter said.
And, at the Snellville senior center, that's what the city tries to do. There are an array of programs, including fitness, dancing and foreign languages. There are special clubs, as well as day and overnight trips. Most recently, the center hosted a Christmas gala with the Metro Jazz Band as entertainment.
(Clotfelter used to do a lot of singing -- weddings, special events, and other things like that. And, every once in a while, if the entertainment doesn't show up, she gets her chance to sing again" whether I like it or not.)
There are now more than 400 members of the center, Clotfelter said. "A welcoming spirit" invites many new people and a diverse crowd.
And, for members that initially may be hesitant to come to the center, it offers a place for them to fit in, become active and make new friends. But, it isn't a place to talk politics, which in Snellville has a contentious history -- that's next door Clotfelter said.
"Patience is something that you have to have a lot of," she said. "We try our best to kill with kindness and most of the people just melt."
With a history of service, including a long stint with the telecom Pioneers, Clotfelter said she's happy to give back to her community here in Snellville. Everything "just fell into place," she said.
Clotfelter remarried this year in July to Joe Gargiulo, who was her high school sweetheart. The couple was also in the middle of planning a wedding for Clotfelter's daughter, so the pair ran away to Savannah and got married on a horse and buggy ride.
"It worked out perfectly," she said.
He new husband also has one son, David who is 16 years old and attends Flowery Branch High School. Kristi, Clofetler's daughter, married this past September to Austin Boyce of Loganville, ,and they both reside in her mother’s home in Snellville.
So many years after a trio of life-shattering events happened, Clotfelter's life is sailing along with her love for her family and the service she extends to Snellville at the top of the list.
"It's just a wonderful place; the people are who make it," she added. "We just have a great history, so I think that’s what makes me most proud to be a part of the city of Snellville -- is the people, and they continue to be the reason I enjoy working here."