Hammond Senior Center will not reopen
At its meeting Thursday, May 15, held at the St. Croix County Government Center, the St. Croix County Council on Aging and Disabilities voted 7-4 to permanently close the Hammond Senior Center (HSC) site.
The center, whose members had been meeting at Trinity Lutheran Church in Hammond, was closed Nov. 26 due to declining attendance and participation. The council told Hammond seniors in November that it would consider reopening the Hammond site after a six-month hiatus, but that will not happen.
Brad Beckman, administrator for St. Croix County’s Aging and Disability Resource Center, said back in November when the site shut down that there was no “magic number” to reopen the site, but it would take at least 10 to 15 people regularly attending, not including those receiving meals at home.
At that time, then-Hammond and Roberts senior sites manager Jordan Pechuman estimated six to 12 seniors came to the HSC Tuesdays and Thursdays for a hot meal. Pechuman left his position at the end of November to run a restaurant he and his wife bought in Frederic.
Beckman also said that County Board and Council on Aging and Disabilities supervisor Paulette Anderson has been working with assisted living manager Noelle Klund at American Heritage Care Center in Hammond to coordinate events and outings for the Hammond seniors. Some seniors have also been going to the Roberts and Baldwin sites for outings, social activities and meals, Beckman affirmed.
“We at the county are very supportive of her efforts,” Beckman said of Anderson. “And we highly encourage people to attend at our Baldwin and Roberts sites.”
The HSC has some money left over in its treasury, which will be used to provide home-delivered meals to Hammond seniors four days a week to aid in the transition.
Anderson is disappointed with the outcome, but says “it is what it is.”
“They (the ADRC) said they didn't get angry calls complaining,” Anderson said. “I said they are introverted, nice Hammond ladies, not prone to yelling at anyone. I will continue to offer opportunities to the seniors at the assisted living portion of American Heritage and work with Noelle. They are making cards one Wednesday a month and then stay for lunch, they sometimes also join the folks for the lunch bunch programs and they try to go out to eat once a month at a restaurant in the area.”
Anderson said she will continue to keep her ears open for interesting events, like plays and shows, to take area seniors to.
The “Lunch Bunch” at American Heritage meets every third Wednesday of the month.
“We hope to step in as an alternate place for seniors to know they have somewhere to go, to socialize, make friends and have a meal,” Klund said in an interview in February. “Sometimes they can be very isolated and we want them to know they don’t need to be.”
The Lunch Bunches feature a shared meal and a speaker or entertainment each month. Each gathering hosts speakers geared toward seniors and topics that matter to them, Klund said.
“We are a vibrant community full of life,” Klund said back in February. “Our residents love visitors and love making extra friends. They would love it if more people would come in for visits.”
Klund said she and the residents would be thrilled if the lunch bunches would turn into a weekly gathering, much like a senior center, with an activity or two planned each time.