Harmony’s senior program, Golden Happenings, might not have been able to offer its spring and summer programs as scheduled, but COVID-19 has not stopped Harmony’s senior residents from keeping active during the pandemic.
With support, financial and in-kind, from local businesses and individuals, program fees, and funding from grants, Golden Happenings has been able to offer educational, physical, and social activities for Harmony and the surrounding areas senior population for the last five years. The group does not charge a membership fee and currently boasts a membership of 75 seniors.
Per the CDC warning that seniors are at a higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19, in March the Golden Happenings Board of Directors sat down and re-evaluated their activities to ensure the safety of their members. The group canceled everything because of the age group and their immune system because the Board felt it was not worth the gamble. Board members talked with all the people scheduled to give programs, and all replied they were willing to reschedule their presentations when everything was safe. At the beginning of the summer, the Board met again and felt it was too early to resume monthly activities.
Under the leadership of Claudia Grehl, five Golden Happenings members have been busy making and distributing face masks and protective gowns to help control the spread of the COVID-19.
A community asset
The National Council on Aging website states, “Senior centers serve as a gateway to the nation’s aging network – connecting older adults to vital community services that can help them stay healthy and independent.”
“If you want something done, ask a busy person.”
The Golden Happenings Board of Directors is four busy people that are enthusiastic about their responsibilities as board members and are devoted to serving their community. Even though the regularly scheduled activities have been canceled, all four board members have continued to support seniors.
Golden Happenings board member, Dennis Dekeyrel, expressed his appreciation for the work director and founder, Betty Dowe, has done the past five years. “Betty has done a great job launching Golden Happenings and helping it to grow.” In addition to coordinating the programming for Golden Happenings, Dowe teaches rosemaling classes. Her painting classes were canceled, but with the help of her daughter, Marsha Dowe-Indahl, Dowe is creating teaching videos which will be available on rosemalingbybettydowe.com and YouTube.
Vice president/social director, Joan Michel, describes herself as the self-appointed janitor and watcher. Attend any of the group’s classes or programs, and you will find Michel eagerly greeting members while keeping everything and everyone organized. Michel mentioned how fortunate the seniors are to have such a beautiful space in the Harmony Community Center to call home.
Vice president/treasurer, Rosie Berge, is described by fellow board members as the most active volunteer in Harmony. You will also find Berge at the Harmony Manor Apartments that she manages. Michel shared, “Berge is so good to the residents. She organizes bingo and gives them rides, plus she solicits furniture donations if needed for residents. Berge has made Harmony Manor a community.”
Golden Happenings’ vice president/secretary, Dennis Dekeyrel, continued publishing the organization’s monthly newsletter and managing the group’s Facebook page during the pandemic. In addition to serving on the Board, Dekeyrel is in charge of Meals on Wheels and organizes senior pickleball games in Harmony.
Dowe explained that the Tuesday and Thursday exercise class lead by Sandy Tammel was put on hold and hopefully will start up again on September 1. The classes held in the Harmony Community Center gym make it is easy for members to spread out. Attendance at the class ranges from 15 -30 members.
The annual flower arranging class is scheduled for the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Harmony Gardens and Floral comes in every year to demonstrate a Make It Yourself flower arrangement. The class is offered free for members.
The Golden Happenings annual Christmas lunch will once again be held in December at the Harmony Golf Course. The event draws an estimated 45 seniors and includes entertainment and a visit from Santa Claus.
Sterling Pharmacy, in partnership with Golden Happenings, will offer flu shots for seniors again this fall.
Dekeyrel explains the importance of recruiting younger members. “As we move forward, the challenge is to keep the current members interested and involved while we also grow by attracting those entering their golden years.”
For information on Golden Happenings, visit the group’s Facebook page.