The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on our community. The Bemidji Senior Center is suffering a great financial loss as well. A large portion of the Bemidji Senior Center’s annual operating budget comes from fundraisers. In 2019, the senior citizen volunteers held 25 fundraisers. We had 216 volunteers donate 11,722 hours of service to the Bemidji Senior Center to help with fundraisers and programs.

Due to the pandemic, we have had to cancel most of our major fundraisers for 2020. In addition, some community organizations that make large annual donations to the Senior Center have no funds to donate due to the economic toll of the pandemic. This loss of income is catastrophic to our Center and has forced us to start using our reserves. At some point, our reserves will be depleted.

The mission of the Bemidji Senior Center is to provide a welcoming environment encompassing activities and programs primarily for senior citizens of the Bemidji area. The Bemidji Senior Center is dedicated to meeting the needs of seniors and enhancing social, recreational and informational opportunities, while working with other agencies.

We at the Senior Center believe that the need, benefit and desire for socialization in our senior population is often overlooked. Sometimes it takes having a parent become a senior citizen or even becoming a senior citizen yourself to realize that the need to hang out with your friends does not go away as you age. People are happier and healthier when they are able to have strong social connections and the ability to help others. Studies have found that older adults with a rich social life are likely to live longer that their peers with fewer connections. The Bemidji Senior Center provides our area seniors the opportunity to have a rich social life and many volunteer opportunities to give back to our community.

The Bemidji Senior Center is in dire need of financial donations. We need the community’s financial support to help us weather this storm. Donations can be mailed to the Bemidji Senior Center, 216 ThirdSt. NW, Bemidji MN 56601.

Michelle Crow, Bemidji, is manager of the Bemidji Senior Center.