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GENERATIONS: 'Happenings' galore at the Senior Activity Center

Have you been by the Senior Activity Center in the past month or so? There are a couple of new faces around.

Michelle Crow has been hired as our new Manager—you probably remember reading about her on the front page of the Pioneer a few weeks ago. And my name is Ardis Lucken, I will be Coordinating our Generations Reading Program this school year. I am very happy to be back and very thankful that we can continue with this program here at the center for a second year.

So maybe you are unsure about what Generations Read is all about; well, we recruit men and women 55 years of age and older and place them in one of our seven elementary schools here in the Bemidji area to read one-on-one with students.

This is actually the 20th year for this successful program. I started out working for the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) in 1999 to implement an intergenerational program with our area schools it was called America Reads. Unfortunately, in 2016 RSVP was no longer supported in the four counties in which it served. At this point, I was worried that this needed, successful and established program would end and the 30 participating volunteers would no longer have an opportunity to help our area children, so after approaching the Senior Center they agreed to house the program and we rebranded and renamed it as Generations Read.

And what a great fit, another program available for seniors here at the center. You think you might be interested in this program? What are the qualifications you ask? All you need is one day a week for an hour or so, a love for reading and a desire to make a difference in the life of a child, and I will take care of the rest. We require new volunteers to fill out an application and complete a background study form. Approved volunteers are trained and may choose the school, classroom, day and times that work best with their schedule. That's it and then the "fun" begins and I am sure you will enjoy what you are doing!

Give me a call at the Center if you have an interest in this rewarding volunteer opportunity.

So I asked Michelle what she would like to feature in this article and she decided to let you know a bit about our Greeting Card Recycling Program. This volunteer activity benefits the members and the community in many ways. Every Monday, a group of women affectionately known as the "Card Ladies" meet to socialize, share a treat, and create beautiful handmade cards. These 15 volunteers donate more than 200 hours each month to this venture. The cards are upcycled from donated used cards (by the way, we accept donations). The cards are then sold at the center, Northview Manor and Birch Haven Village for only 50 cents. This creative activity raises funds for the center, raises awareness of the Center and provides a high quality, low-cost product for our community.

At 1 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 25, we will hold the center's annual meeting. There will be an election of new board members, as well as a chance to say "thank you" to outgoing board members. There will be coffee, treats and conversations, so be sure to stop in and see what our annual meeting is like and vote if you are a member.

The center would like to invite the community to stop by and check out all that is happening at the center, 216 Third St. NW, and you don't have to be a senior citizen, the center is welcoming to everyone!

Submitted by Ardis Lucken, Coordinator Generations Read program, and Michelle Crow, Senior Activity Center Manager.