Senior Connections Program honors volunteers


Maple Lake Senior Connections coordinator, Ginger O’Loughlin, thanked volunteers with a special appreciation lunch on Wednesday, April 1, at the Maple Manor Dining Center. “ML Senior Connections has been blessed since its origin due to the many dedicated volunteers.” 
Five Meals on Wheels drivers, Jim Peterson, Diane Pruett, Leslie Ramsdell, John Haack, and John Nelson, deliver up to 20 meals a day in the Maple Lake area. O’Loughlin presented each one with a $100 gas gift card to one of the Maple Lake gas stations. She thanked other Dining Center volunteers: Joyce Swingley, Brian and Nancy Jude, Bernie Wilson and Ursula Heifort, as well as cooks, Bonnie Eastham and JoAnne Gehrke. Barb and Bob Carnes, Jen Pecarina, Cyndy Meissen, Jenny Polsfuss and Rose Wurm represented the veterans and ladies’ auxiliary who have also volunteered over the years. O’Loughlin also thanked MLE third graders, Ellie Fuller and Mady Payne, and MLHS 10th grader, Victoria Rollings, for spending a day of their school Spring Break serving meals to the lunch attendees. “All served a greater mission purpose, and I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.”
U.S. Marine Corps Vietnam veteran, Mike Yanish, opened the celebration with prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance. As meals were served by the junior volunteers, Linda Garay, St. Paul, informed participants about two food and nutritional assistance programs. Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) through the USDA provides funding for members to purchase healthy food at grocery stores, while Nutritional Assistance Program for Seniors (NAPS) provides free food through Second Harvest Heartland to eligible residents over 60 years old.
Rollings read her essay, “What is a Volunteer,” extolling the personal benefits of volunteering. “I get to see the smiles of all you people.” Volunteering helps one “learn how to do different things and builds people skills. I enjoy meeting and helping people. It’s a good feeling. Thank you for being you and for making amazing memories [for me].”
Three door prizes were won by Bernadine Wilson, Danny Weismann and Robert Polsfuss. Following lunch and awards, the bingo board lit up for afternoon enjoyment.
O’Loughlin began the program 15 years ago to enhance the quality of life for seniors and became the Catholic Charities Dining site coordinator in December which includes serving homebound seniors with the Meals on Wheels program. The ML Senior Connections program was awarded a grant from the Wright-Hennepin Electric Association’s Operation Roundup, a trust that serves local social needs, which funded the lunch and the volunteer awards.