The Lake May Center

An older woman smiles in front of a new dining room

Supporting the well-being of seniors in rural Minnesota

The Lake May Center in Walker, Minnesota helps area seniors live well and independently by providing activities where people can find companionship, friendship and fun.

It’s no small thing for seniors, who are often isolated, to have somewhere nearby where they can go and be welcomed—where someone will pull up a chair and say ‘play cards with us,’ or bring them a hot meal and share a laugh. The Center is a place just like that. It’s regularly a buzz of activity including scheduled card games, bingo, pancake breakfasts, dances and other events. By partnering with the Lutheran Social Services Food Program, who uses the facility’s commercial kitchen to prepare more than 1,000 monthly Meals on Wheels meals, they also provide daily hot lunches for guests. All activities and operations are volunteer-run.

Jane Greer, the Center’s treasurer, said that for many people, having a place to socialize makes a big difference to their overall well-being. She told the story about a woman who moved to Walker less than a year ago. “She was very, very lonely when we first met her,” said Jane. “First she quietly started coming to the Center for lunch, then she started volunteering. Now she’s playing cards with us and having a great time.”

Thanks to a grant provided by the Mardag Foundation, the Center recently got some needed updates, which has increased its use. The renovation included 120 replacement chairs, fresh paint, an additional fryer, replacement oven and new dishwasher booster for dish sanitation.

The carpeting was also replaced with wood floors, making the space more inviting, easier to clean, less expensive to maintain, and possibly most importantly, makes new room for dancing. Before the renovation, dancing was limited to a small linoleum area. Now there’s ample room for kicks and spins during Monday’s line dance lesson and the Center’s newest activity, the Friday’s social dance, featuring old-time dancing. “Everyone loves it. Our first dance was so popular we are making it a monthly event,” said Greer. “Our Center has become quite the popular place to be.”