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Senior Centers provide more resources for people than some think, especially during the pandemic

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) - As the COVID-19 Pandemic hits the one-year mark and we're moving closer to getting past it, people are looking for ways to reconnect.

Donna Wavra, the Executive Director for the Harry J. Olson Senior Center, said senior populations had been hit hard with loneliness and that community centers are vital.

The Center provides Tai Chi exercises, puzzle building, a "lending library," and most importantly, conversation.

"The most difficult thing in a senior citizen's life is when they lose their physical mobility," Wavra said. "Once someone has lost their mobility, it is challenging to come back from this. Because many seniors can struggle with physical disabilities, we provide many mild and slow-paced activities for our seniors to enjoy"

Joel Greenya, a Family Physician with Mayo Clinic Health System, said they see issues with seniors and poor nutrition. Greenya said this could stem from various issues like mobility problems, low energy, or not adequately preparing food for themselves.

"We are always looking out for our seniors and older patients when it comes to nutrition," Greenya said.

Wavra said because seniors can become malnourished, that is when senior centers can fill a vital role. Wavra noted when it is safe to do so, she and the Center's board want to start a meal program at the Center.

Currently, the Center is only open two days a week and allows ten seniors at a time.

The Harry J. Olson Senior Center Board is raising funds to buy the Center from the City of La Crosse. The majority of the funds to help with the purchase come from the Center's members and The Coulee Chordsmen, the La Crosse Community Foundation, and additional generous donors. Wavra said she and the members still have a long way to go financially before purchasing the building, and it will take a couple of years for the Center to get on its feet to keep it thriving.

You can email: to donate to the Center's cause. Wavra and the members want to purchase the building to preserve this building because of its historical importance. The Harry J. Olson Senior Center was built back in 1866.

The U.S Census Bureau's latest data show that 17 percent of the La Crosse County population are over 65.

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Mayo Clinic Health System provides a variety of ways seniors can stay healthy and enjoy life.

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Lindsey Ford

Lindsey Ford is a multimedia journalist.

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