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Iambjm

A Perfect Day on the Lake

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From Grand Rapids Herald:

What’s better than the joy a sunny summer day on the water can bring? Perhaps, reeling in that perfect sunfish, or catching two or three to make a fresh fish meal for friends and family.

The Let’s Go Fishing with Seniors - Itasca County Chapter is making this joy reality for many seniors this summer with outings to area lakes for afternoons filled with fishing and friendship. The inaugural year for the local chapter has been a community success story, according to program organizers and volunteers. So far, groups from area nursing homes and adult day care facilities, have enjoyed trips on the Let’s Go Fishing handicapped accessible pontoon.

With chapters all throughout the state of Minnesota, Let’s Go Fishing is dedicated to enriching the lives of individuals ages 55 years and greater through fishing and boating excursions that strengthen communities, build relationships and create memories. The program is provided at no cost to seniors and all equipment is provided, from rods and reels, bait and fishing guides to refreshments and life jackets.

Bev Taylor, activities director at Evergreen Terrace, first learned of the program and worked to bring it to Grand Rapids. She worked with local service groups and volunteers to raise funds to purchase the pontoon and the program has hit the ground running with support pouring in from the community.

“It is so greatly appreciated that you can see it in their faces,” said Taylor of those who have participated in Let’s Go Fishing excursions. “The laughs, the smiles, and they are so proud of catching the fish. The Orion group took their fish home to clean and have a fish fry inviting their families to join them in eating the fish they caught. A man from ElderCircle Day Care took the fish he caught home for his wife to clean so they could have the much anticipated fresh fish for supper. They share stories from their past about fishing and bringing home the big one.”

Many local volunteers make the program a success, says Taylor. People donate their time to captain the pontoon, help with fishing and more.

“The volunteers say over and over again, they get more out of it than the passengers...just seeing the joy on the faces of the people they help makes everything worthwhile,” said Taylor. “They volunteer because they want to give back to those who have given so much.”

Community groups and organizations also have donated to the program. The Itasca County Sheriff’s Department provides docking space on Pokegama Lake; the city of Cohasset adapted the pier at Tioga landing with a ramp for wheel chairs and walkers to load passengers; Ben’s Bait is donating all the bait needed for this summer; Pokegama Golf Course is providing space for a small refrigerator for storing refreshments and bait; Meds-1 has provided a defibrillator and first aid kit for the boat and many other individuals, churches, businesses and townships have supported the program.

“People are always asking what they can do to support us; everyone is bending over backwards,” said Taylor.

By making the boat so accessible and the outings so enjoyable, Taylor said the seniors who participate don’t feel they are a burden. She said the boat is available for any senior group.

A ribbon cutting/kick-off ceremony and reception for the Let’s Go Fishing with Seniors Itasca Chapter will be held Monday, June 30, from 2 to 7 p.m. at Crystal Lake in Grand Rapids. Hot dogs, chips and refreshments will be served for a minimal charge. Rides on the Let’s Go Fishing with Seniors pontoon will be available throughout the reception. The public is invited.

What a wonderful idea, as soon as I get a clean bill of health from the doctors I am going to call about volunteering. After all I still have leeches left.

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