APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV) – On any given day prior to the coronavirus pandemic, about 500 senior citizens would walk through the doors of the Thompson Center on Lourdes for activities like art or fitness classes.
“In the situation right now, there’s so much isolation and depression and you know people are in the house and everything,” Mary Beth Nienhaus said.
In-person activities at the center are on hold, but Executive Director Liz Neuman says that center officials are working to ensure that none of their clients feel alone.
“Isolation and depression is among us, right? Especially right now,” she said, “and we want to ensure that people of any age are not isolated.”
They’re working on making regular phone calls to clients, to check in and chat.
“I have learned things about how people have met their spouses, all the way into how to cook something,” Neuman said of the calls.
Those conversations have shown the importance of the senior center.
“The one thing I continuously hear is ‘I’m so lonely without the Thompson center, I miss my friends, they’re like my family,'” she told WFRV Local 5.
Center officials are working on expanding programming during the safer at home order.
To help those efforts in and beyond this pandemic, Nienhaus has set up a matching grant.
“It’s a $50,000 dollar matching gift,” she explained. “We’re just going out to the community and asking anyone to give whatever they can.”
After just a couple of days, Nienhaus says eight or nine thousand dollars has already been donated.
“The community has been wonderful in supporting our efforts,” she said.
And at the Thompson Center on Lourdes, they’re hoping that support continues.