Bemidji Senior Center celebrates recent remodel with open house – Bemidji Pioneer


BEMIDJI — The Bemidji Senior Center held an open house on January 28th to celebrate interior remodeling, including new paints, floors and appliances.

This redesign work, called “remodeling,” began in early 2020 after a committee was set up to oversee and organize the project. Initially we planned to simply renew the old carpet and paint colors, but with the help and donations of the community, the scope of the mods has expanded.

The project was promoted despite the difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020, despite the temporary closure of the Elderly Center and limiting the ability of volunteers to continue working. ..

Like the rest of the Bemidji Senior Center, the coffee area has been recently refurbished.

Gillian Gandhi / Bemidji Pioneer

“We really wanted to update the location,” said Marcia Syverson, assistant manager of the center. He proudly described the community’s efforts to update the space.

Local contractors and volunteers have spent countless hours cleaning spaces, completing repairs, and initiating the refurbishment process.

Initial funding consisted of individual donations by members of the Senior Center and donations by the Bemidji Eagles Club. As the project continued, various stores and contractors also provided labor and supplies to assist in the refurbishment of the center.

“We love volunteers. They are a really essential part of the Senior Center,” said Syverson.
After members of the committee contacted The Home Depot, the company agreed to donate flooring, paint, cupboards, countertops and sinks to the Senior Center. By the end of the project, their donations totaled $ 17,000.


A quilt was added during the recent refurbishment of the Bemidji Senior Center. Money was donated by the Modern Woodmen of America to buy materials, and labor was donated by Mark Lease.

Gillian Gandhi / Bemidji Pioneer

Other materials and works provided by local groups and members of the Senior Center, such as wall art and the new quilt display rack, were specially created by Mark Reese for the center.

The front door area, gift shop and dining area have all been refurbished with new paint. The new design has been agreed by everyone who has worked to create a more cozy space.

All work reached the open house on Friday, thanking everyone involved and celebrating the new interior.

The event also included cookies, coffee and cider, and introduced Verna Lenker, the new manager of the Senior Center, which began late last year.


Verna Lenkerl recently became the Center Manager for the Bemidji Senior Center.

Gillian Gandhi / Bemidji Pioneer

The Senior Center offers a variety of activities for different age groups. These include live music, crafts, games, and a deliciously reputed monthly pancake breakfast.

The center also schedules exercise and wellness activities, skilled driver’s license training, and free tax assistance through AARP. Through its partnership with Lutheran Social Welfare Services, the center also supports Meals on Wheel, a program designed to address food insecurity and isolation in the elderly.


Paintings and other artwork are sold at the Senior Creations Gift Shop.

Gillian Gandhi / Bemidji Pioneer

But according to Syverson, the most important service they offer is the ability to stay connected with others.

“I really believe that the community needs a senior center,” Syverson said. “It only gives you the opportunity to stay connected with your community.”

And Syverson explained that it was exactly what it did for many older people, especially those looking for friendship and dating as they grew older.


You can buy a variety of knit and crochet items at the Senior Creations Gift Shop.

Gillian Gandhi / Bemidji Pioneer

Judy Tobin, a member of the Senior Center who works at the gift shop, explained to her the importance of the center after her husband’s death.

“I quit my job and my husband died a few months later. It was very difficult,” Tobin said. “I came to the (gift) shop and slowly started working here. It was great. It’s a cheerful and fun place.”

For Tobin and others, the Senior Center was a place of affiliation. Somewhere they can engage with their community, participate in activities, and have fun.

“Retirement doesn’t just mean you die,” says Syverson. “When you retire and grow older, you still need dating. That’s what the Senior Center offers.”


The group will perform Hand and Foot Canasta at the Bemidji Senior Center on Friday, January 28, 2022.

Gillian Gandhi / Bemidji Pioneer


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