Adrian works to connect its younger, older residents
Catered meal is latest effort made possible by Age Friendly Grant
ADRIAN — The serving of a hot meal Wednesday to 110 Adrian residents age 65 or older is just the latest example of a community working diligently to connect people of all ages with one another.
A group of city staff and community volunteers met Wednesday morning at Keith’s Grocery and Bake Shoppe to pack meals into coolers, and within minutes were off making deliveries to residents. The activity, like many others over the last several months, was a product of a grant obtained in 2019, Adrian City Administrator Jill Wolf explained.
“We received an Age Friendly Grant from the Minnesota River Area Agency on Aging,” Wolf said Friday afternoon. “We then surveyed the community and just asked all sorts of questions about quality of life, and physical and infrastructure needs that people felt would improve our quality of life here in Adrian. One of the main things that came up … involved increasing social interaction among all the generations.”
A portion of the grant was subsequently utilized to pay an intergenerational coordinator, and that led to the organization of an array of activities and programs through the city of Adrian and the Community Leadership Team.
“We had to be pretty creative with the challenge of COVID,” Wolf said.
Nevertheless, the community’s residents got busy — and involved — with one another. One activity was a virtual “Coffee and Canvas” painting event, and another was the creation of a community garden where older adults provided instruction about gardening to younger children and young adults.
Tory Bohlke was the first intergenerational coordinator, noted Wolf. When Bohlke returned to work in the fall at Adrian Public Schools, Deb Kroon assumed the role.
“From there … we also had Austin Taylor — he’s a high school senior — come in and teach older adults Introduction to Technology and Introduction to Your Smartphone classes, and he also taught them how to use Zoom,” Wolf said.
“Then, in October, we had our Apple Crunch event. The local apple orchard, Dayton Avenue Orchard, provided apples — we purchased them through the grant — and we had caramels, packets of oatmeal and a whole bunch of resources for seniors with them.
“The Adrian Elementary Student Council packaged all those in bags, and Adrian High School peer helpers delivered them to senior residents. I want to say we had right around 100 bags delivered.”
Considering the grant — whose funding originated through the Southwest Initiative Foundation — was for $10,000, it may seem as if the money might have run out there. Yet, the community has managed to stretch it out even further.
“Right now we have the Christmas lights show at the Adrian Campground,” Wolf said. “We used part of the grant for that, because we thought it could bring people of all ages out to enjoy it in their own cars.”
Local businesses and organizations have put up some of the displays for the light show, which will remain visible to visitors through December.
Grant dollars have also been used to purchase fleece material, with which Adrian High School students are making blankets that will be delivered to older adults within the community. Additionally, there’s a Christmas decorating contest that’s ongoing, in which people are encouraged to drive around town and vote for their favorite light display, as well a continuing Christmas scavenger hunt for youths.
And there’s still more.
“We bought large-print books and board games for the library and a webcam and microphone for the library,” Wolf added. “The library is jumping on board with this, too. They’re going to record older adults reading books, then make them available for kids to check out. They’ll also have elementary kids reading books ..., and then have those available for older adults to watch.”
Water aerobics equipment has also been purchased for use at the community pool, Wolf said, and a virtual marathon is now in the works as well. Throughout the month of January, Adrian residents can call City Hall to participate. They have a month to walk, bike or run 26.2 miles, and participants will log their miles and submit them. The first 50 to do so will get T-shirts.
Wednesday’s hot meal for older residents, meanwhile, was free of charge to the recipients. Kroon, the intergenerational coordinator, contacted potential recipients of the meal, and also made multiple calls that resulted in a variety of sponsorships and full support for the effort.
“Adrian is such a great town for that,” Kroon said Friday. “It was individuals and businesses, and they’re just super willing to support a lot of things, especially when it has to do with the seniors.”
The chicken breast meal was catered by Keith’s Grocery and, according to Kroon, came about
as a result of an idea she had while watching a Hallmark movie.
“It was fun to deliver the meals, put a smile on people’s faces and spread a little Christmas cheer,” Wolf said. “We had a very efficient assembly line and had those hot meals out the door and delivering to the residents went very quickly, as well.
“We had a lot of great people helping out and are so very fortunate to live in such a generous community.”