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Behring Senior Center gets creative during pandemic
Virtual exercise, activities available; building to stay closed for now
bridget cotter
Bridget Cotter, wellness specialist for the Behring Senior Center, holds daily live virtual workouts.

MONROE — Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and state shutdown, the Behring Senior Center has been trying to find new and creative ways to stay connected with its users.

“We are all anxious to reopen the senior center, to see our friends again, and get back to our normal routines, but we know it’s more about returning to a ‘safe’ normal,” said Elizabeth Sorn, senior center coordinator.

The senior center has had several virtual and at-home programs to keep its users busy and active. Sorn said she, Theresa Klemm, and wellness specialist Bridget Cotter have lists of members that are called daily, weekly and monthly, at least to check in. 

The center has daily live exercise classes online with Cotter. There is also trivia and other fun activities available online. The front entryway is open for members to take books and DVDs home, and when the items are returned, they are sanitized and set aside for 72 hours before returning for the next checkout.

“(The) doors may be closed, but the staff is working hard to stay connected to seniors in the community. We’ve been doing a lot of classes and fun programs on Facebook, which seems to be the best way to reach a lot of seniors,” according to Sorn.

For those without Facebook or internet access, Sorn said the center can make DVDs of workouts for seniors to use at their home.

Sorn said senior centers in DeForest and Dane County have looked to the Behring Senior Center as an example for staying in touch and connecting with members.

“Theresa has created ‘busy books’ with puzzles, games and other fun pages. She included them in care packages she created, and had them delivered to seniors who receive delivered meals,” Sorn said.

Despite the state of Wisconsin and Green County allowing businesses to continue, the senior center building will remain closed for now.

The Center for Disease Control is still encouraging medically vulnerable citizens, including those over 60 years old, to continue to shelter in place. Sorn said the Monroe senior center would remain closed through the month of June, pending approval from the Monroe Common Council.

“We will reevaluate safety and health concerns then,” she said.

Other guidelines will be in place at the facility, too. 

“We have about three pages of things to do to get this building ready to go. My top concern is the safety and health of the seniors and our community,” she said. Sorn has gone through the building to mark off each room with 6-foot social distancing requirements.

In an email to its members, Sorn said staff would continue to be available by phone and email until the building is open again.

“We will continue to follow the advice and guidance from the Green County Health Department, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, CDC, the National Council on Aging and recommendations from the Badger Bounce Back Plan,” she said.