It's the year 2001 and that's where I, Ann Daly, came in.
Chuck Melberg invited me to serve on some kind of committee to help the Senior Center Board look at some new ideas. Chuck was a long time public servant and activist for the aging. He made a career out of helping people. We honored him for his extraordinary volunteer work in 2003. He was my mentor and friend.
Anyway, so there I was per Chuck's invitation at the annual meeting. Following the meeting the new board retired to the meeting room at which time new officers would take over the business of running the center. I was soon to learn that they had a most unorthodox way of filling the board positions. The chair person, who happened to be Merlin Froyd at the time, said, "OK, now, who hasn't been president around here yet? We haven't had a woman yet, so how about you, Ann?"
"Not me," I gasped, "I'm not even a member yet."
Where upon Wally Wubbles whipped out his billfold and slapped a $20 bill on the table and said, "You are now."
Now you tell me. Is that any way to run a railroad?
I served as president a couple of times, and during those times, we did make some changes. We had to give up cooking at our Beltrami County Fair booth and having strawberry festivals, corn feeds and spaghetti dinners. Our members could no longer physically do these kinds of projects. Instead, we sold brats on Crazy Daze and had music and dancing under a big tent. We also started the annual style show fund raiser. The brat idea went down the tubes when the Lake Bemidji Dragon Boat Festival began, but the style show continues to be a special community event. The craft shop continues to make generous donations to the center and the card ladies keep the racks supplied with greeting cards for the public to buy. The monthly pancake breakfasts continue to be a popular event and a steady source of income. Incidentally, in 1993 a pancake breakfast cost $3 - here we are 18 years later and breakfast is still a good buy at $5. This project requires a lot of work and so provides a variety of volunteer opportunities. Other sources of income include donations from the safe driving and tax assistance programs, the Giving Tree and the LSS Nutrition Program. We receive donations from the morning coffee club and have also been fortunate to receive some generous individual donations. And, of course, the United Way is our greatest source of steady support.
One of the most positive things that has happened at the center in the last 10 years is the formation of a singing group known as "The 3rd Street Senior Singers." Marie Luoma is given the credit for starting the program, and it continues to thrive under the direction of Cynthia White. Many thanks to both of these women for their commitment to this musical program. These singers are ambassadors of good will. They rehearse every week and perform regularly, bringing the joy of music to residents of several long-term care facilities in the community.
Another great program which is offered at the center is the Silver Stretchers Work Out and Walk Away the Pounds Program. Phyllis Grubbe has faithfully headed up this program for several years.
Card playing, Scrabble and jigsaw puzzling continue to be popular activities. A wood carving group also meets on a weekly basis. The RSVP program provides opportunities for seniors to work with the America Reads Program, our pen pal project, and various other RSVP programs. For many people the noon time meal is the reason they come to the center. Thanks to LSS diners can receive a nutritious meal for a reasonable donation and visit with their friends while they eat. The Meals on Wheels Program is available for people who are confined to their homes.
And so the saga comes to an end. It's been quite a ride. I know one thing I've learned. I will never ever put a photo in an album without including the name, the date, the place and the event. Mark my word!
So to wind this up, I'll just say that although I think I've always had respect and appreciation for seniors and what they are capable of doing, I have a lot more now. As for me, I need to do more thinking "outside the box."
Ann Daley is a Paul Bunyan Senior Activity Center volunteer.