Kudos to the admirable work of an East Grand Forks woman who took a problem, worked it out, spoke about it publicly and turned it into what eventually will be a comfortable place to sit and enjoy the day at a local senior living center.
The effort began to take shape when JoAnne Whicker spoke last month at a meeting of the East Grand Forks City Council. As the Good Samaritan Society considered building a patio area for residents at Maples in Heritage Grove, Whicker, a resident, spoke to the council.
“After you get done with lunch,” she told the council, “there’s nothing to do but go upstairs.”
Whicker said the lack of outdoor seating is the only real complaint she had about the place. In a subsequent interview with the Herald, she said residents don’t have much choice for fair-weather enjoyment outside of the center.
“You get done with lunch, you go upstairs and watch TV, and watch TV and watch TV. We’ve got to have a place where we can go and sit,” she said.
Thus the problem.
The solution? Well, Whicker saw to that, too.
As outlined in a Herald story last week, she – along with her daughter, Terri Horpedahl, and a representative from Heritage Grove – began to network in an effort to raise funds for the patio.
A few weeks later, she had helped raise approximately $49,000 in money, labor and materials. The total price is likely to come in around $59,000, divided into three phases.
Whicker and Horpedahl hope to have a ribbon-cutting for a completed patio before winter strikes; if weather conditions are unfavorable late this summer and fall, the patio should still be open to residents by springtime.
It all shows what can be done with optimism and elbow grease. And we especially appreciate what appeared to be such an upbeat and constructive approach to the problem.
For the record, the East Grand Forks City Council did not allocate money for the patio, nor should it have. It’s best to keep government funds clear of projects that will be of minor benefit -- in this case a comfortable place to sit, rather than, say, an expansion -- to private industry. Instead, Whicker used the meeting to bring awareness to the project.
The council listened to Whicker, and allowed her to speak on a project that obviously is near to her heart. Whicker, in turn, provided constructive and informative comments, without criticism. That turned into a springboard for Whicker’s fundraising efforts.
And soon, residents of Maples at Heritage Grove will have a nice place to sit outside, under the shade of a new pergola.
It’s a success story from start to finish.