PR Senior Coffee Hour offers key socialization

Local seniors and Living at Home volunteers enjoy conversation and a cup of coffee every Tuesday at the Park Rapids Senior Center. Pictured, from left, are Ruthann Helgren, Marlene Prodahl, MaryLou Murray, Beverly Jacobson and Shirley Huss. (Shannon Geisen/Enterprise)

Seniors have a new place to mingle and chat over a cup of Joe.

Living at Home of the Park Rapids Area (LAH) and the Park Rapids Senior Center have teamed up to offer a free “senior coffee hour” every Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the center.

LAH Director Connie Carmichael said the goal is to have another option for seniors to gather and socialize.

“Eventually, we may have speakers or other activities, but the main purpose is to visit and have a little fun,” she said. “We just want to offer options for those that may be socially isolated or lonely. Interestingly, even seniors who live in apartments and are seemingly surrounded by people can still be lonely.”

Carmichael points to statistics about loneliness’ effect on one’s health and wellbeing. “Much research is being done now, so it is a very interesting topic to many people,” she said, adding,


“In Hubbard County alone, our population of seniors is expected to be as high as 35 percent in 2020.”

All seniors are welcome. You don’t have to be a member to attend, said senior center president Ruthann Helgren.

Darlene Wallick has lived in Park Rapids since 1955, “but I don’t know anybody any more,” she said. “I used to know everybody.” She is a LAH volunteer and brings other seniors to the weekly event. Wallick welcomed Marlene Prodahl, who recently moved to Park Rapids.

“I was curious,” Prodahl said of the coffee hour, which began in January. It has proven to be a great way for her to meet new people.

“It’s been so successful. People keep coming back after a week, and they love it,” Carmichael said.

If someone is going through a health issue, Carmichael said, “you tend to get more and more isolated as time goes on, so we wanted it to be easily accessible. The other thing is we want to do it every single Tuesday, no matter who comes – if we have zero people or 20 people. We want it to be the same week after week after week so people can depend on it.”

The average crowd has been around 20 people.

Transportation to the coffee hour is available through LAH (call 732-3137) or Heartland Express. A ride is key, Carmichael notes, because seniors may be healthy enough to handle their own affairs but may not be able to drive.


Darlene Wallick, Prodahl and Ruthann Olsen get acquainted at the Park Rapids Coffee Hour. (Shannon Geisen/Enterprise)

Shannon Geisen is editor of the Park Rapids Enterprise.
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