WOODRUFF -- The Lakeland Retirement Foundation (LRF) announced Tuesday, April 10 that it’s embarking on a $2.3 million capital campaign to build a new center in Woodruff for seniors and other community members.
The new center will replace the original senior center destroyed by fire in May of 2015. LRF did not receive any insurance payment for the 26-year-old building because the insurance policy had been allowed to lapse through an oversight. The new center, to be called “Generations: A Community Gathering Place,” will be built on about two acres of land donated by Ascension’s Howard Young Medical Center (HYMC). The parcel is west of One Penny Place and across the street from the hospital. “This new facility will serve as a hub of activity and will provide the opportunity for collaboration that will improve the health and well-being of our community,” said Sandy Anderson, president of HYMC at Tuesday’s press conference. She said it was their hope that the land donation would be “a catalyst for a very, very successful capital campaign.”
Nerdahl said they did receive a $40,000 federal grant to help furnish the building, likely with kitchen equipment. LRF has retained Keller Architects of Wausau to draft plans for the block and metal building. The site plan allows for expansion of facilities in the future, according to LRF board president Brian Nerdahl. “The construction of the new building is going to double in size from the old building,” said Nerdahl. “We are going to be approximately 15,000 square feet. About 6- to 7,000 square feet will be for a gymnasium that will have pickleball courts and a walking track.” An outside walking track is planned for the future. “Within the new center we are going to have some classrooms, so different organizations can come in and utilize it,” he said of the center. “We are going to have a café to try to keep people there and utilize the social part of the new center. We are going to have a retail store where retirees will bring in their paintings, their carvings and will be able to sell them to the public.” They center’s key age group will still be those 50 and older, he said.
But the hope is that families and others in the younger generations will become a part of the center. There will be a conference room and a large dining area that can seat 100-125 people. Coupled with the large auditorium, the facility can be rented by the public for birthday and anniversary parties, reunions, receptions and weddings, he added. There will be men’s and women’s changing rooms, a health and wellness room, as well as administrative offices. They will also bring the Meals on Wheels program into the new center, as it will have a commercial kitchen. Since the fire, the senior center has been operating out of the Hiawatha Mobile Home Estates clubhouse.
The Meals on Wheels program has been operating at Holy Family Catholic Church in Woodruff. The center has about 225 regular participants, said Janelle Schroeder, executive director. They come from several communities from within Oneida and Vilas counties. They board is hoping the new center will attract even more people once it’s built. Schroeder said she welcomes suggestions for additional services at the center, including speakers. Volunteers are also needed to help staff the center and to assist with programs, she said.
The center will be staffed from Monday through Friday, 8am to 4:30pm. Groups will be able to use the gymnasium on the weekends. With the capital campaign ongoing, they hope to break ground on the new center early this fall. It will take about nine months to complete the construction, Nerdahl said. In addition to single gifts, they would welcome multi-year gifts and in-kind donations. Naming rights to various aspects of the building are also available.
To learn more or to make a donation, call 715-356-9118, or visit online at lakelandretirement.org. Direct donations in any amount can be made to the center by mailing them to: Lakeland Retirement Foundation, P.O. Box 1815, Woodruff, WI 54548.