Main Event: 'Spring Fever' benefits those in autumn of their lives

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Guests browse the vast selection of silent auction items at the event.

The needs of area seniors were on the hearts and minds of the more than 130 people who attended Spring Fever,a benefit for Elder Network,Apr. 18 at Canadian Honker Events at Kahler Apache.

The evening of dinner and dancing, live and silent auctions raised $32,000 to fund the programs and service of Elder Network in its three local counties, Olmsted, Wabasha, and Winona.

Through a variety of services, including support groups, peer support, and friendly visits, Elder Network serves area seniors and their families with the goal of helping seniors remain in their home.

"We have about 250 volunteers in the network, who help make it possible for the elderly to remain in their homes, where they are often most comfortable," said Executive Director Laurie Marreel. "It's helpful to keep in mind that the old need very little, but they need that very little very much."

"We really appreciate all the volunteers and the community, which has been very supportive," said Spring Fever chairman Rob Artley."This is our main fundraiser. It helps fund services to assist the elderly function as independently as they can."


Volunteer Jennifer Anderson,who is also a board member, said she decided to volunteer with Elder Network after she retired. "It's fun to get to know the people," she said. "I enjoy the friendly visits and driving people to their doctor visits."

Jerre Gold,who works in the medical field, said Spring Fever is "a great benefit to help out the elderly." She added that she had been a caregiver for both her husband and mother and appreciates how Elder Network helps preserve the dignity of older adults.

"Through illness or aging, they lose so much. They don't want to lose the comfort of their homes as well," Gold said.

Attendee Mary Doucetteco-founded Elder Network in 1988. She was among the group who wrote a grant to fund peer counseling of older adults.

"The home visits were begun to help with the depression, anxiety, grief, loss, and change the elderly often experience," Doucette said. "And it really works, because what they really need is us — a connection with people who will listen to them — to listen and be present. People have had absolutely fascinating, diverse lives. We need to listen to their stories."

Roxie Tienter, a board member for three years, is a nurse practitioner who been involved with care of the elderly for many years.

"It's a wonderful thing that Mary (Doucette) has done. I'm very impressed with that," Tienter said. "Twenty-five years ago, there weren't these programs to help."

Carol Weisz,Elder Network education coordinator, assisted at registration and also gave the pre-dinner invocation. She conducts six-week workshops to assist the elderly and their caregivers.


"The sooner we get people into one of the workshops, the more helpful they find it," she said.

"The classes are huge, so important," said Lori Colwill,president of Elder Network. "Caregivers need relief and education on how to handle difficult situations. People are stressed out and ready to give up. So often, adult children have moved away and older adults are alone."

Elder Network has been supporting seniors and their families since 1988. It has grown from providing primarily peer counseling to caregiver support, transportation, and education.

The needs of the elderly population are growing fast — in fact, the population of residents 65 and older itself is growing fast, and rising poverty rates in that demographic are a matter of concern, Marreel said.

For more information on Elder Network's services or to volunteer, visit .

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