In 1978 Margee Polanka was at the University of Minnesota-Duluth studying to be an elementary school teacher. On spring break, she took a job at Ecumen Lakeshore as a part-time nurse’s aide that changed her career path from young kids to older adults.
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.
Jen Rasmussen is Director of Fun at Ecumen Lakeview Commons. Today she has unleashed a feisty dog and a small child on the residents of the Maplewood assisted living community. Her boss passes through the commotion and jokingly tells her she is fired — for the third time this week.
In her 36 years at Ecumen Detroit Lakes, Sandy Lia has been an activity director, a volunteer coordinator, the founder and manager of the adult day services program, a housing manager and currently the fund development coordinator with additional duties in marketing and event planning.
In 1974 Debra Klouse, a newly minted nurse, first walked through the doors of St. Mark’s Living in Austin, Minn. She remembers how welcoming and friendly everyone was… how it was like being part of a big family. “I’ll try this for a little while,” she remembers thinking, “and a little while turned out being 40 years.”