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The Grand Marais Senior Center: not just for seniors

Grand Marais Senior Center
Grand Marais Senior Center

Finalcut_Senior_Center_interview_20110222.mp34.23 MB

There’s always something going on at the Senior Center in downtown Grand Marais, and once a month folks from the center visit with us here at WTIP.  Recently, Bill Shaffer and Warren Anderson stopped by to talk about some of the things the center has to offer and to encourage people of all ages to take advantage of it.

Bill Shaffer:  Our center is an activity center.  It’s invaluable to the community.  We have computers.  We have our Wii game.  We have bingo.  We have flat screen television.  We have any number of things.  We have board games.  We have puzzles.  We’ve got tons and tons and tons of activities down there, and we would like to get as much of the community involved in that as possible.  For instance, we do a monthly trip to Grand Portage.  We call it our Grand Portage express.  And obviously a lot of our seniors like to go up and hit the casino and spend a little time in there gambling, but there are other things to do.  We have the Heritage Center there.  We have the community center in Grand Portage.  There’s any number of activities that could be done during that trip.  It’s not necessarily just to go to the gambling hall.

Warren Anderson:  We want to open this up, and people maybe think the trips are only for seniors, but they’re not.  We would like to see a lot of younger people on these trips.  Although we would give preference to seniors if there was that much demand from seniors for the space that we have available on our bus.  But most of the time that’s not the case and we have ample space for others to come along.    So it’s a great opportunity for people to say, “I want Mom or Dad to take this trip, I’m going to help them with it,” or “I would like to go with them.”  And we’re looking for a lot more community support of those trips.  We make trips to all kinds of activities and places that are fun to go to.

The center serves a hearty lunch every weekday, and once again, it’s not just for seniors.

Warren Anderson:  Right now they’re having fun with the drawings at lunchtime.  People that have lunch sign a little slip and they go into the box for drawings, and various businesses have been supporting gifts to the winners of those drawings each month.  And this next month is a year’s subscription to the News Herald.

Bill Shaffer:  And for three and a half bucks you’re going to get as good a meal as you’ll find in Grand Marais.

Warren Anderson:  And then it’s six and a half, I believe, for non-seniors.  We are getting people coming over from the bank and lunching there periodically.  There’s younger people that are having fun and having a good lunch.

Cook County helps to fund the Senior Center operations, but according to Anderson and Shaffer, the center itself raises most of the money it needs to operate.

Warren Anderson:  We raise the majority of the funds ourselves.  At one time we were primarily dependent upon taxpayer support, through the county.  We’ve been able to reduce that amount in the last four years, so now the county is paying less than half the cost of the operation of the center.  Obviously, the more participation we have from people, the better the chance of people remembering us in their wills or in their tax-deductible gifts and it’s that kind of thing, of course, that we’re looking for as well.  We’re also being more aggressive as to how we invest the funds that we have, and no longer dependent just upon low interest rates that one can get from some banking institution.  So we’re now investing part of our funds in what we feel are very safe but high dividend-paying securities.

Bill Shaffer:  We’re a very viable organization and we know that in this age of the reduction of entitlements from all municipalities and the federal government it becomes necessary to be more self-sustaining.  That’s our objective.

The Grand Marais Senior Center is located at 10 North Broadway in downtown Grand Marais.  For more information, call 387-2660.