A Generation of Resilience
The United Way of Northeastern South Dakota concludes its four-part series addressing pressing issues in our region.

A Generation of Resilience

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Carolyn Nelson (center) and Ray Pomplun (far right) play bridge with friends at the Aberdeen Area Senior Center. Photos courtesy of United Way Staff

The individuals of the greatest generation have faced several challenges during their lifespan. From World Wars to economic downturns, and now facing several waves of a worldwide pandemic. Resilience and fortitude are the hallmarks of this generation, and these characteristics are being tested like never before. Unfortunately, isolation and fear has recently plagued the senior population. 

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Debra Wallace (left) and Nelda Linares get in their daily exercise with the workout equipment at the senior center.

Director of the Aberdeen Area Senior Center Jackie Witlock has witnessed this firsthand. The Aberdeen Area Senior Center mission is to provide recreation, education, rehabilitation, and support services for all senior citizens and individuals with disabilities to enable them to live independent, healthy, and well-rounded lives. The senior center in conjunction with Avera St. Luke’s Hospital administers the Meals on Wheels program in our area. Avera St. Luke’s Hospital provides special diet meals (cardiac, low sodium, diabetic, etc.) to those in the community with specific dietary needs. Meals are prepared at the hospital with the Aberdeen Area Senior Center handling administrative duties along with coordination of home delivery volunteers. 

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Gene Lux (left) and Henry Linares enjoy a friendly game of pool.

“Prior to the pandemic we had an average daily attendance of 120, and we are slowly getting back to pre-COVID numbers. Our staff of three spend a great deal of time checking on our clientele, just to make sure they are still doing okay. A common thing we hear is how lonely and fearful they are during times of shutdown and COVID outbreaks. It is amazing how a person can change just from the start of a phone call conversation to the end,” Jackie said.

Just as this generation has done before, they have found a way to persevere and move forward. New challenges brought forth new opportunities, such as learning technology platforms. Zoom calls or watching events via the internet became common practice. A new symbiotic relationship began with seniors adapting to technology and technology adapting to the needs of seniors. Most schools now have a way to watch activities virtually along with many community events such as the South Dakota Film Festival. 

The United Way is proud to partner with the Aberdeen Area Senior Center. The Center goes above and beyond to provide hundreds of social activities throughout the year. Jackie and her staff provide a warm enriching environment for seniors to interact, socialize, and learn about programs and services in our area. If you have not had an opportunity to see all the wonderful things happening at the Aberdeen Area Senior Center, please feel free to contact them to set up a tour by calling 605-626-3330. You will not be disappointed. //