107-Year-Old Verna Bloom Reveals Her Secret To Longevity

Meet Verna Bloom, who lives at Ecumen-managed Sunnyside Care Center in Lake Park, Minn. She has lived through eight major U.S. wars, watched 19 presidents come and go, and experienced the rise of radio, television and the internet.  

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Two Ecumen-Managed Communities Receive Workforce Grants for a New Program To Help Retain Employees

Two Ecumen-managed communities in rural Minnesota are teaming up to create a new program aimed at increasing employee retention by helping employees balance their work and personal lives.

Pelican Valley Senior Living in Pelican Rapids and Sunnyside Care Center in Lake Park each have been awarded a $25,000 Workforce Solutions Grant from the LeadingAge Minnesota Foundation to support the initiative.

“We sometimes lose good employees simply because they have a personal crisis and see no alternative but to quit working,” said Barbara Axness, Executive Director of Pelican Valley Senior Living. “We plan to create a supportive and proactive program that will help employees deal with their personal challenges.”  

The grant money will help fund a new position called “Retention Specialist,” which will be shared by the two sites. This position will be an advocate and partner for employees, getting to know them personally, establishing trusting relationships, and providing resources and support when they need help. 

“We envision the Retention Specialist assisting employees in navigating challenging life events and preventing small issues from becoming big issues that affect their employment,” said Danielle Olson, Executive Director of Sunnyside Care Center.  “Also, the Retention Specialist will teach life skills to help employees be more successful at work and have healthier lives outside of work.”  

Olson and Axness said they expect the Retention Specialist role to reduce employee turnover, increase employee satisfaction and help in recruiting new employees. Results will be carefully measured over the two-year grant period. They said the primary goal of the program is to increase the quality of care for residents by having a longer tenured and more engaged workforce.

The grant from LeadingAge Minnesota, the state’s largest association of aging services providers, was awarded through a program funded by the Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies (MACP), a foundation that takes a strong interest in workforce issues in rural Minnesota. MCAP supported the $1 million Workforce Solutions Grant program to improve the experience of care for older adults by funding emerging and proven workforce strategies that increase the quality, quantity and capacity of the caregiving workforce.

Five Ecumen Sites Get National “Best Nursing Home” Rating from U.S. News & World Report

Five Ecumen owned and managed sites in Minnesota have received a “Best Nursing Home” rating by U.S. News & World Report magazine. 

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Ecumen Century Club: Happy 104th Birthday Muriel Swenson

Ecumen honors Muriel Swenson, a resident of Sunnyside Care Center, who is 104.

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Sunnyside Care Center Rallies Support for a Cherished Colleague Who Is Fighting Cancer

The team at Sunnyside Care Center are rallying to support their beloved Activity Director, a 40-year employee who is battling cancer.  

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Ecumen Century Club: Happy 106th Birthday Verna Bloom

Everybody wants to know Verna Bloom’s secret.  She’ll tell you being 106 years old “surprises” her because she has no big secrets to longevity — except maybe a positive attitude. 

“Every day is a gift from God,” Verna is fond of saying.  

The staff at Ecumen-managed Sunnyside Care Center in Lake Park, Minn., where Verna lives, has some insight into her longevity. They say she is always smiling and always thinking about and caring for others.

Randi Handegaard, the activity director at Sunnyside, says Verna participates in all the community events at Sunnyside and is interested in everything around her. “She has held the bowling ‘ traveling trophy’ several weeks in a row,” Randi says, “and she continues to crochet and participates in the house writer’s guild.”

Verna was born on a farm near Audubon, Minn., in Becker County, March 22, 1910, and was one of eight children. Growing up, she milked cows and worked around the family farm.

Verna met her husband Willard, nicknamed “Chubby,” when she was 22.  He would come to Lake Park on his motorcycle and take her on rides.  When she was 24 they got married and had two children.

She and Willard owned a hardware store in Lake Park, where she was the manager. She also cut and styled hair for many years and enjoyed playing the piano.

When she was in her 70s, after Willard died, she would go to Chicago for extended periods to babysit for her grandchildren, who gave her the nickname “Big V.” She is very proud of her family.

Verna stays active crocheting baby blankets for her great-great grandkids, and she never misses a Friday Bingo game.  And she is always smiling. 

Ecumen honors Verna Bloom.  Happy 106th Birthday.

Sunnyside Care Center Gets Medicare’s Highest 5-Star Quality Rating

Sunnyside Care Center, an Ecumen-managed senior community in Lake Park, Minn., has received the highest possible overall quality rating of 5 stars from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS).

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Randi Handegaard Celebrates 40 Years at Sunnyside Care Center

On Nov. 5, 1975, Randi Handegaard took her first job at Sunnyside Care Center in Lake Park, Minn., as a newly minted occupational therapy assistant.  She blinked, and now it’s 40 years later.  She’s still at Sunnyside as the Activity Director — still loving her job every day.

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