If it wasn't for a nonprofit organization called Breath of Life Adult Day Service, Jeanette Lowe, 81, of northeast Brainerd would be at home every day.
Jeanette lives with her son who works during the day. For the past more than two years, she spends time at the adult day service, which is housed at Woodland Good Samaritan Village in Brainerd.
Jeanette has a chance to visit with friends, play games, make crafts and take part in chair exercises. By doing this, she doesn't have to sit in her house all by herself and feel isolated.
"She can be here and be loved and cared for," said Bob Schricker, Breath of Life executive director. "And her son has peace of mind knowing his mother is well taken care of."
Sarah Jo Bergsnev, a Breath of Life program aide, Thursday helped Jeanette Lowe of Brainerd out to her ride. Lowe likes to attend the Breath of Life Day Service at Woodland Good Samaritan Village. Brainerd Dispatch/Nels Norquist» Purchase reprints of this photo.
Schricker started the Breath of Life Adult Day Service in 2001. It's a place for dependent adults to socialize with their peers in a stimulating Christian environment while supporting their families or caregivers. The program is geared for senior citizens, but any dependent adult who is in need of care is welcome.
"The average age is 80 and 60 percent of the people who come here are men," Schricker said.
The adult day service is open from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and costs $56 for six hours. Schricker said 80 percent of the services are paid through alternate sources of funding, including Minnesota waiver programs, veterans programs or long-term health insurance.
Breath of Life leases a one-bedroom and a two-bedroom apartment at Woodland that was transformed into a large gathering room, a kitchen, an activity area and two handicapped accessible bathrooms.
Breath of Life sees on average 12 people a day. Participants are welcome to come as many days as they want.
"We encourage people to come at least two days a week so they can develop friendships," Schricker said. "We have people who come five days a week and others who come a few days a week."
Dale Palmer (left) watched as Mo Bergeron rolled the dice in a game of 10,000 Thursday at the Breath of Life Adult Day Service at Woodland Good Samaritan Village in Brainerd. Brainerd Dispatch/Nels Norquist» Purchase reprints of this photo.
Transportation is provided to participants for an additional fee, but many people get a ride to the service by a loved one or through the Brainerd and Crow Wing County Transit system. Once the participants arrive, there are stimulating activities to take part in which range from listening to music to playing games to making a craft. Meals and snacks also are served.
People not only get to socialize with others through this service, but they also are taken care of physically. The Breath of Life has a licensed practical nurse on duty who administers medications and monitors participants' health and other respite care needs.
Schricker said Breath of Life has served 73 families in the past five years and he hopes to expand the service by leasing another apartment to allow five more participants to come. Breath of Life primarily serves people in Crow Wing County, but will accept people from surrounding counties.
"The Breath of Life is all about them," Schricker said Thursday pointing to a group of seniors playing a dice game at the table in the gathering room. "It's about the men and women who want to share their lives with each other, to laugh and to touch each other's lives ... The Breath of Life is full of blessings."
Paul Salmon of Brainerd has attended the adult day service every day for the past year. Paul comes because he enjoys playing games and being with the friends he's made.
Ambrose Thesing worked on a puzzle Thursday while Barb Marohn, a Breath of Life assistant program director and licensed practical nurse, watched. Brainerd Dispatch/Nels Norquist» Purchase reprints of this photo.
Verne Wells, 75, Baxter, began coming to Breath of Life a few weeks ago. He comes two days a week because he doesn't want to be home alone. He lives with his wife, who works part time.
When Verne gets to the Breath of Life through the city's transit system, he is served a fresh cup of coffee and snacks.
"I like to eat," he said. "I don't like to do the crafts, but I like to look at them. I love to play cribbage.
"I've met a lot of nice people here. It's a great experience."
Mildred Yezek of Brainerd comes five days a week. She's made new friends and enjoys crafts.
Breath of Life is supported by about 150 different individuals, organizations and Woodland, Schricker said. There are six staff members and several volunteers. He said many of the volunteers come from Central Lakes College in Brainerd from its occupational development classes.
For more information on the adult day service, contact Schricker at 822-3296.
JENNIFER STOCKINGER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5851.
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