The Benedictine Living Community is preparing to help its patients enjoy the sun later this month and throughout the summer with the purchase of a new handicap accessible bike that they have been fundraising for the past couple of years for residents in the Community to enjoy. The Community plans to hold a training session for its employees to use the bike and a ribbon-cutting ceremony next week to celebrate its completion.

The bike is being delivered from the United Kingdom after the Community has been making fundraising efforts over the last couple years to purchase it. The bike is a 2-person capacity bike (holding a driver and two residents) with a Hoyer lift to help residents climb on the bike. The Community raised about $11,000 to purchase the bike to help residents get outside of their rooms and chairs to see the Community and take small trips around the City. While the Community has golf carts, the Community’s Auxiliary believed a bike that the staff could pilot to take the residents anywhere they wished would be more fun and beneficial. “About two years ago, at an Auxiliary Meeting, our Volunteer Coordinator brought up the idea that residents want to get out, and how can we do this?” Benedictine Community Auxiliary President Diane Seddon explained, “We do have a couple golf carts, but the biggest one is a six-person golf cart that people ride around in, so we decided that this might be a fun thing for them to have, and we started fundraising. With the fundraising and this foundation, we were able to get the bike,” she added.

Training is required for any of the Community’s volunteers to operate it, which will begin on Thursday, May 26, along with a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate reaching the fundraiser’s goal. Originally, the training was meant to commence during National Nursing Home Week on the week of May 9 through the 13, but poor weather pushed the training back over two weeks. “We had it planned during Nursing Home Week, but we didn’t have good weather during the week and taking the residents out for a bike ride, but we’ve postponed that, but it will happen,” Diane Seddon explained. “The residents are extremely excited to be able to start going on bike rides to rummage sales, baseball games, or trips to Dairy Queen,” she added. The volunteers will be trained by a trainer from the Twin Cities, who will teach them how to help get the residents on and off the bike with the holey and navigate the bike to keep the residents comfortable.

The Community still has many projects planned for the rest of the summer and year, along with fundraisers it is holding throughout the community. One of their most prominent is a new, handicap-accessible swing with a small table in its center, placed on the south side of the Villa Summit that will hold multiple people to help the residents enjoy their time outside with others. The Community currently has the concrete slab for it poured, thanks to the Cournia family in memory of Community resident Mary Jo but still needs to raise money to complete the swing. The Community is now selling coupon books at Hugo’s Family Marketplace on two different weekends to help raise money for the swing and other projects. Kristi Magnuson-Nelson, Hugo’s CEO, has allowed the Crookston branch’s manager, Nick Nelson, to include the Community’s fundraiser project on the Crookston Grocery Tills until Friday, May 20. “If you’re at Hugo’s buying groceries, the checker will ask you if you want to donate anything towards the Villa Swing project. Mrs. Magnuson has been very helpful to us, and if you’re there and get asked if you want to donate, this is what it’ll be going towards, which is in the process of being ordered. Hopefully, we’ll have it this summer, and you’ll see it out on the lawn,” Benedictine Community Auxiliary Secretary Cecilia Baatz explained. The Community hopes to raise at least $7,200 to complete this project and reminds everyone that they are always looking for new volunteers and help from the Community to help make life more enjoyable for the residents.

The Benedictine Living Community will have its bike training and ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday, May 26, and is selling coupons at Hugo’s Family Marketplace until Friday, May 20. If you’re looking to participate in activities or volunteer at the Community, you can contact Volunteer Coordinator Ashley Melsa at 218-281-3242.