Minnesota's senior boom won't catch the Lakes Area Senior Activity Center by surprise.
The seniors organization is preparing to move into the former Kingwood Court Good Samaritan Center this fall -- a move that will increase its usable space from 2,500 square feet to 20,000 square feet. Currently the activity center is bursting at its seams. The former Brainerd Fire Hall on Fifth Street has been the center site since it was renovated in the early 1980s, but it's just too small to serve that segment of the population adequately for much longer. The donation of the Kingwood building by Good Samaritan officials was a case of perfect timing for the activity center.
The driving force behind the need for more space for seniors is the aging of the baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964. The Minnesota Department of Human Service's Project 2030 estimates that in the next 30 years the number of people ages 65 and older will double. They will make up 23 percent of Minnesota's population by 2030.
Lakes Area Senior Activity Center officials, realizing they had extra room, decided to provide office space for area non-profit agencies for a fee. The second through fourth floors of the Kingwood facility are now being used by non-profit agencies such as the Boy Scouts, Green Thumb, Crow Wing County Victim Services, Brainerd Jaycees and Crow Wing County United Way.
The idea of clustering the non-profits near the senior center makes sense. It might improve communication between those agencies and create more volunteering opportunities for those seniors who are willing and able.
The senior center board of directors should make sure the compensation it receives for rent is enough to defray building expenses. Ideally, the rent would also be enough to invest for future renovation needs since the original 1909 building is going to need work down the road if it is going to serve the growing senior population.
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