As people age it becomes more difficult for them to get out, make new friends and enjoy activities such as fishing and boating that are so dear to Minnesotans’ hearts. Let’s Go Fishing With Seniors, a non-profit group that focuses on these activities, is allowing older adults to do just that for free.
The group was founded by Joe Holm of Willmar in 2002, though it arose from difficult beginnings including family health problems, a layoff, and a four-wheeling accident.
“It seemed like the good lord was telling me ‘Joe, there’s more than just yourself to worry about in the world,’” Holm says. “I had been thinking about the concept for years. I love people, I love water, and I had dealt with seniors in the past and saw that there was a tremendous need to fill.”
Since then, 29 chapters have been established throughout the state and the group is beginning to expand to metro suburbs such as White Bear Lake and Chaska, while Excelsior and Eden Prairie chapters are currently in the works. The group maintains a pontoon boat at Howard’s Point Marina on Lake Minnetonka and takes seniors out on boating and fishing excursions.
Over the past 10 years, the group has served 65,000 people with 2,100 volunteers across the state. As chapters become more established, they branch out into other programs as well such as:
- Let’s Go Fishing with Seniors, which aims to connect seniors with youth in the community
- Let’s Go Fishing with Veterans, which aims to connect veterans past and present
“The program is made up of a bunch of components: to respect, honor and appreciate those that have come and served before us; in armed forces, in the community and in business,” Holm says. “I saw so many people in nursing homes, and as we get older, we feel more left out. The big issues that are seen are depression and isolation. As we age, there’s a need to keep active mentally and physically”
Craig Norenberg is in charge of chapter development in the metro area. The move to the metro started taking place in the last three years as more and more people heard about the program. He talks with service organizations such as Lions clubs, Kiwanis clubs, and senior clubs, but his biggest challenge is finding the right volunteers to run the chapters.
“What we’re really looking for in our volunteers is a passion for giving back to people. That’s the single greatest achievement of our organization. Spending time on the water with a group of seniors fishing or boating is a great experience,” Norenberg says. “We hear a lot of—‘this is the best day of my life!’ Coming from a senior, that isn’t something to be taken lightly, and that’s what motivates volunteers.”
Like with most companies, the tough economic times have taken their toll on the group. The organization was partially funded through a state grant matching program a couple of years ago, but it no longer receives any assistance. So The Let’s Go Fishing Chapters from around the state have joined up to host the first annual Let’s Go Fishing and Beyond Fundraising event on April 28. The event will help the program continue its mission.
“We encourage people with an interest in improving their community by bringing a new program to join us,” Norenberg says. “You’ll get a snapshot of the organization and it is a fundraising event but, also a fun FUNraising event.”
If You Go
Date: April 28, 2012
Where: Northland Inn, 7025 Northland Drive North, Brooklyn Park
Tickets can be purchased by e-mailing lori@lgfws or by calling 888.235.8448.
To read what a typical outing with this group is like check out Angela Johnson’s article on Southwest Metro Magazine’s website.