"I believe everything I have done up to this point has led me to, and prepared me for this job," says Lora Keeney, describing her new position as activities directory at Twin Rivers Senior Campus in Cannon Falls.
Ten years ago, Lora established the first women-only exercise facility in Cannon Falls. Opening August 6 , 2001, "It Figures" was south of town, near Fil Mor Trucking. Since then, Lora has moved the business a couple of times, changed the name to "Fit on 4th - a gathering place for women's health and fitness", dedicating many hours and lots of energy to making it successful.
Other similar exercise businesses have closed and moved on. Fit on 4th continues to thrive, becoming a community center for women. Clients exchange books and recipes, meet to chat while working out and provide a support group for each other.
Keeney has taken on extra jobs, including house cleaning, catering, waitressing, and pet sitting, to be able to live in Cannon Falls and keep "Fit on 4th" operating.
Then, her dream job opened up. After a year of assisting, she became full-time activities coordinator at Twin Rivers Senior Campus.
"I absolutely love working at Twin Rivers. This beautiful place is home to so many wonderful people; every day is a pleasure," Lora exclaims. "Everything here is designed to enhance life for the residents, from the gorgeous dining room, to the independent apartments, to the assisted living spaces, to the memory care unit on the fourth floor. The comfort of residents and enjoyment of life is the foremost consideration. I love being part of that!
"The interaction with residents provides all of us on the staff with the opportunity to learn from the wisdom they have to share. They are so full of life, so much fun to be with, that our lives are enriched daily by being with them."
Keeney has discovered that her past experiences have helped her immensely in her new position. From being a Candy Striper in junior high, to driving a truck while in the National Guard, she has been storing up experiences all her life.
Her college major, sociology, has been put to good use; her theater and art classes are called upon during craft sessions, and waitress experience pays off during happy hour/bingo on Friday afternoons.
"I'm finally able to use my love of dancing and music," she laughs. "One of the residents, who is 97, is teaching me to tap dance! "
Agnes Ward, who has an apartment at Twin Rivers, expresses the feelings of many when she states, "Twin Rivers provides so many activities for us. There are always things to do that get us out of our apartments and involved with other residents."
A calendar is posted each month so Twin Rivers residents can keep track of all that is going on. On Tuesday mornings, Keeney gathers a group for chair yoga in the activities room. The spacious room, complete with bay window and piano, is also used for chapel services.
The yoga class, attended by a half dozen ladies, kicks off with a bit of aromatherapy. Keeney, an expert in the science, distributes cotton swabs doused with oil of peppermint, to enhance energy and breathing. Everyone sniffs their peppermint, commenting on the good air flow it provides. The yoga class encourages deep breathing and stretching, with everyone reaching up and out, exercising limbs and lungs.
The activities schedule at Twin Rivers definitely has something for everyone. Wednesday, a beautiful autumn day promising record high temps, has fall drives scheduled. Craft sessions, sing-alongs, a kazoo band, as well as entertainment by outside groups is available weekly. Last week, a band of harmonica players gave a concert and a women's group, playing humming teapots, was on the program.
A series called "Armchair Travel" brings local speakers with travel photos and experiences to share. The book club, "Bookworms" lets participants listen to Lora read aloud. It is designed for those who have vision troubles, but anyone is welcome.
"I feel honored to be in this position here at this community within our community. The location of Twin Rivers allows residents to be part of the larger Cannon Falls scene, and then come home to this beautiful facility.
During the building of the original facility, like many Cannon Falls residents, I didn't like its location. The grove of trees provided a lovely gateway to town, but now, as Twin Rivers Senior Campus has grown and is providing such a fantastic home for its residents, it has become a real asset for Cannon Falls," Keeney stated as she headed for hall bowling in the memory care unit.