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Senior center site manager encourages fun

When Shelley Wallander took over as the Somerset Senior Center site manager in June, she knew one thing she wanted to accomplish was getting more people to attend and bringing more publicity to the center.

“Slowly but surely we’re trying to make people aware the center is here,” Wallander said. “I’d like to get more people involved. This is a very fun, very welcoming, social group of people.”

As Wallander talked, a bingo caller echoed in the background. About 20 seniors studied bingo cards and listened intently for numbers.

Wallander said before she worked at the center, she worked as a CNA at what was then Holy Family Hospital in New Richmond. Her family moved to Somerset in 1999 from Fond du Lac.

When her children were younger she was a stay-at-home mom and homeschooled her kids until they were middle-schoolers. She returned to the work force when the kids began attending public school.

She also worked as a cashier in the kitchen at the New Richmond schools before signing up as a substitute worker with St. Croix County. That’s how she heard about the site manager position when it opened.

“As a CNA, I had had a background of working with older adults,” Wallander said. “I love the socializing. When you’re talking to them you learn so many things about their lives and past generations. Plus it’s seems like everyone’s related somehow.”

Outside of her duties at the center, Wallander enjoys spending time with her husband and two kids, ages 19 and 21. Her husband plays in a band and they’re both active church members.

“Music is a big part of our life outside of work,” Wallander said.

They also enjoy going on motorcycle rides and car rides in their new Corvette.

Among Wallander’s duties at the center are setting up for lunches four days a week, finding activities for the seniors to do at and out of the center and organizing trips.

She said they’ve gone on an orchard trip and to St. Croix Casino in Turtle Lake, which was paid for by the Senior Center Board. Every first Friday (the center is closed on Fridays) a group goes out for lunch.

In December, the center has many events lined up, including going to see a play, cookie decorating after bingo on Dec. 12, and a Christmas party with Santa on Dec. 19. They also have a New Year’s Eve bash planned for Dec. 31.

Wallander said they had a successful holiday bazaar on Nov. 9, which raised $300 for meals and trips. Area businesses donated items for a silent auction and prizes for the seniors’ frequent bingo games. Sometimes the money is used to help someone go on a trip, even if they can’t afford to.

“I just want people to come,” Wallander said. “I’m trying to make it fun so people will want to.”

The Senior Center, located at Somerset Town Hall on Highway 35/64, is open Monday through Thursday 10 a.m to 2 p.m. Lunch is served those days at 11:30 a.m. Lunch is a $4 donation for those 60 and older, $6.50 for those under 60. For more information about Senior Center events, call Wallander at 715-247-5354. Everyone is welcome.

Sarah Nigbor

Sarah J. Nigbor serves as a regional editor for RiverTown Multimedia, a position she began in April 2017. She joined RiverTown Multimedia in October 2013 as a news reporter for the New Richmond News, before being appointed editor of the Pierce County Herald in Febraury 2015. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Spanish and French in 2001. She completed a minor in journalism in 2004. 

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