A new beginning for SAC’s Enrichment Center in Cambridge

Participating in the ribbon-cutting ceremony, from left: Terry Baar, city of Cambridge; Susan Morris, Isanti County commissioner; Congressman Rick Nolan; Mary Sarault, chair of the Isanti County Commission on Aging; Barb Bergwall, coordinator of SAC’s Enrichment Center; Cambridge Mayor Marlys Palmer; Judy Schroeder, secretary of the Commission on Aging; Chris Caulk, Cambridge city councilman and Sharon McAndrew, treasurer and project manager. Photos by Jon Tatting

Participating in the ribbon-cutting ceremony, from left: Terry Baar, city of Cambridge; Susan Morris, Isanti County commissioner; Congressman Rick Nolan; Mary Sarault, chair of the Isanti County Commission on Aging; Barb Bergwall, coordinator of SAC’s Enrichment Center; Cambridge Mayor Marlys Palmer; Judy Schroeder, secretary of the Commission on Aging; Chris Caulk, Cambridge city councilman and Sharon McAndrew, treasurer and project manager. Photos by Jon Tatting

Community leaders gathered with local seniors last week in celebration of a new beginning.

An open house dedication, complete with special speakers, songs, good food and a ribbon-cutting ceremony, on Thursday, May 22, marked the opening of SAC’s Enrichment Center at City Center Mall in Cambridge. The transition means community members will no longer call it “SAC’s on Third” in reference to the Senior Activity Center’s previous location a few blocks away.

Cambridge Mayor Marlys Palmer speaks to the people on hand at the celebration, as SAC's Coordinator Barbara Bergwall listens in the background.

Cambridge Mayor Marlys Palmer speaks to the people on hand at the celebration, as SAC’s Coordinator Barbara Bergwall listens in the background.

Leading the program was Barbara Bergwall, coordinator of the Enrichment Center, who reminded the attendees of how the senior center began with Mrs. Blaine Barker establishing the Over 60 Club and continued with longtime coordinator Fran Strodtman. Eyeing the future, she emphasized the need to continue their efforts and their vision.

“The goal now is for the younger seniors to take care of our older seniors through volunteerism,” Bergwall said.

She gave credit to the teamwork and all of those who made the move possible. “They did the work cheerfully … tired, but cheerfully,” she said with a smile.

Also sharing a few words were Isanti County Commissioner Susan Morris, Mary Sarault of the Isanti County Commission on Aging, Cambridge Mayor Marlys Palmer and U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, who made the stop on his way home after flying in from Washington, D.C.

“This country has been pretty darn good to this generation,” Nolan said. “The country has a lot to be grateful for. The opening of this center took tremendous effort. It’s an incredible asset for the community. Communities with good quality of life do exactly this kind of thing … just having a place to get together. They say good social relationships lead to a good life no matter the age.”

A seat could not be found by the time the program began.

A seat could not be found by the time the program began.

Said Palmer: “It is truly emotional. I go to the breakfasts (at SAC’s), and I’ve seen the people and the challenges. This idea was born years ago, and it really accelerated in the last few years. It’s been fun to watch it progress.”

In terms of the work involved in making the Enrichment Center happen, “the city acknowledges the volunteers, citizens and the Isanti County Commission on Aging Board on the completion of this absolutely successful and wonderful project,” Palmer added. “Dreams do come true, like the ball fields east of town. Hopefully within these walls, the dreams continue.”

For Sarault, who chairs the Commission on Aging, she, too, thanked the many people who saw the center to fruition and shared her enthusiasm over all of the folks who will enjoy the center.

Arnie Everson directs the Prime Time Singers near the conclusion of the open house dedication.

Arnie Everson directs the Prime Time Singers near the conclusion of the open house dedication.

“The goal is a welcoming place for our community and their friends and family to enjoy, a place for 55-plus to play cards and bring their grandkids,” she said. “We came into this place with no debt, thanks to the board knocking on doors and businesses. It’s been a yearlong labor of love.”

Concluding the program was the Prime Time Singers performing a patriotic medley along with “Bless the House,” which seemed fitting to the occasion, director Arnie Everson said.

In addition to the social and activity opportunities, the Enrichment Center also houses SAC’s Friendship Café. A grand opening is tentatively scheduled for July.

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