A fundraising event for the Chisago County Senior Center Feb. 17 showed just how much the center and all it offers means to the community.
One by one, couple by couple, group by group, people packed the house at Uptown Maple Commons in North Branch, where they enjoyed a silent auction, a pork tenderloin dinner and entertainment from Dave Eicholz, a member of the dueling piano group, “Deuces Wild!”
Local resident and military veteran Skip Solle, who regularly volunteers at the center, started the program off with an inspiring speech, one that addressed a senior’s value in our country and community, along with those who don’t necessarily see it that way.
As people may know, the Chisago County Board of Commissioners denied funding the senior center by a 3-2 vote last year, and the decision continues to not sit well with many who have experienced or seen first-hand the benefits of such senior programming in the North Branch community.
Still, despite the center losing its senior dining program at Maple Commons, Catholic Charities recently found another, similarly priced dining option — under a one-year agreement — that’s currently offered at the Oak Inn in North Branch. On top of that, the North Branch school board Feb. 14 approved a contract that will have the district’s food service staff prepare and deliver meals back at the center. This program launches Feb. 25, and the start time is 11:30 a.m. Monday through Friday. The cost per meal is $4.75.
A senior’s impact
“Past and present, seniors have contributed to this great country of ours,” began Solle in a speech endorsed by groups named “Concerned Senior Citizens of Chisago County and North Branch Cares About Their Seniors.” He went on:
“We have purchased war bonds, along with many American-made products from automobiles to thimbles, to help build our America. Many of us worked tedious hours in factories and offices to provide for our children and families. Some have worked endless hours on the farm to provide food for our families and the fast growing population of this country.
“Many of our senior citizens served in World War II, Korea, Vietnam and other sites across the world. Some of our families have lost fathers, mothers, sisters or brothers in this endeavor.
“We raised our children to become good citizens who will contribute to this country to help build it—one additional community at a time.
“We really are at a stage in our lives that we looked forward to. However, we also have come to a time in our lives when we might need some help. We are getting the feeling that there are some in our society that feel that we can no longer contribute and are of little use. We are still useful and want and can do more. We need to know that our lives are still of value.
“We would like to have programs available for us who can’t cook or stand long enough to cook a meal. We need space for exercise programs. We still like to sing, dance and be healthy. Actually, a space to have congregate meals and games for socializing would be great. We haven’t given up on ourselves, but sometimes it’s hard because we sense that others have given up on us.
“Well, guess what? We are still a strong and proud group of citizens, and we are not giving up. We can help each other and the younger generations, too. We have learned a lot in all these years and would love to share it along with out time.
We need ideas to save the Chisago County Senior Center. Let’s pull together with help, love and caring.”