When most of us think about South Washington County Schools, we think about K-12 education. Kids. So it’s easy to forget that the district has a thriving community education branch, which serves as the umbrella for some wonderful initiatives, activities and events for local seniors—most of which happen at the DPC Community Center. Intergenerational activities coordinator Rebecca Kropelnicki says the community center serves adults age 50+ from Woodbury, Cottage Grove, Newport, Afton and a few other small nearby communities.
Lately, volunteerism has been a big focus. “There are so many skills and a willingness to contribute in the retired community,” says Kropelnicki. “After a few conversations with neighbors and friends, a group of local seniors have decided to meet monthly to bring groups together who have similar interests in volunteering.” Their suggested projects include light housekeeping and handyman services, and offering home visits for neighbors who are in need of companionship.
An existing volunteer group is the popular Project GO (Grandparents Organized), whose members have been volunteering in local elementary schools for more than 15 years. “They are tireless souls who love children, ad are interested in teaching them the lifelong skill of sewing,” says Kropelnicki. “Along with a t-shirt, they create conversations and memories of meeting someone new who cares about what they are interested in and is willing to listen.”
The DPC Community Center also hosts a monthly gathering for people living with dementia or Alzheimer’s, and their caregivers. After a light lunch, there’s a discussion time, movement or physical activity (like bean-bag toss or Tai Chi), and a creative activity (a sing-along, sewing project or gardening project). “We take our time, help one another and enjoy every minute,” says Kropelnicki. (Registration required by calling 651.425.6650.)
And if you or your loved ones are looking for senior-specific resources in the community—like help with housing, transportation, legal assistance, food security, or employment—check out the district’s newly revamped website, which offers a Senior Resources page, at sowashco.org.
DPC Community Center
8400 East Point Douglas Road S., Cottage Grove