by Joni Astrup
For 25 years, Annette Bonin has worked with senior citizens.
Now she has been officially named the new senior citizen coordinator for the city of Elk River.
Bonin replaces Sue Kostanshek, who retired June 7.
Bonin had been working as the senior citizen programmer in Elk River for the last 13 years. With her new position, her hours have increased from 36 to 40 a week.
Natalie Anderson, who was the secretary-receptionist, is now the senior citizen programmer. She has gone from 20 to 40 hours a week. The part-time secretary/receptionist position has been eliminated.
The Elk River City Council approved the staffing changes Oct. 15.
Both Anderson and Bonin work out of the activity center at 413 Proctor Ave. in Elk River. The activity center is for people age 55 and older “but we don’t check IDs,” Bonin joked.
Until recently there also was a senior center at the Guardian Angels campus in Elk River, but that space has been turned into a wellness center. Bonin said they continue to offer programs in conjunction with Guardian Angels and work closely with the people there.
They also work with a number of other people and agencies in the community.
“There is such a good spirit of cooperation among everybody,” Bonin said. “That’s really been great.”
Internally, Bonin said she, Anderson and Kostanshek always worked as a team, and that synergy continues.
“It’s always been our goal to meet the needs of the whole broad range of seniors,” she said. “A lot of times people think seniors are these 85-year-old people walking around with their canes or their walkers. But it’s from your mid-50s, so we’re actually looking at four or five decades of seniors. We always try to do this wide spectrum of programming and that’s what we will always continue to do.”
Bonin, who grew up in Brooklyn Park, raised her family in Champlin and now lives in Otsego. She has two children and two grandchildren.
She likes working with seniors because they are at a time in their lives where they can relax and enjoy themselves. “And they have the extra minute to care about other people and that’s always neat to see,” Bonin added.
They come to the activity center for fun, education and wellness, she said.
An average of 102 people a day came to the activity center in September, which was Senior Center Month, and that’s just the ones who took time to sign in.
Bonin doesn’t see any major changes on the horizon and said she just wants to keep the operation going in a positive direction.
The activity center is part of the city of Elk River’s Parks and Recreation Department. Bonin said they are implementing a new RecTrac computer system that will allow people to register for programs online and to pay with credit cards. In the long run, Bonin said it will help because reports will be computer generated, giving them more information about how the activity center and its programs are being utilitized.
Many different classes and activities are offered through the activity center.
Bonin said they try to keep up with new trends.
In general, fitness classes are very popular. One of the new programs is Zumba Gold, which has been successful.
A new Bob Ross painting class drew so many participants they had to add a second class, she said.
Another successful program features an occupational therapist who presents topics once a month. She will talk about Alzheimer’s in November.
Also coming up are a Taylor Marie fashion show on Nov. 8 and a fundraiser for the CAER food shelf on Nov. 29 will feature the play, “Santa Flunks Retirement.”
Pickleball will be coming in January. It is a cross between badminton, tennis and ping pong and will be played indoors at Lions Park Center.