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GC nutrition manager brings love of people to job

By Cara L. Dempski

GLENWOOD CITY — If people from around Glenwood City have seen a new face around the senior and community center, well, there is a good reason for that.

Barb Brunkhorst has brought her knowledge of senior nutrition programming to Glenwood City as the center’s new nutrition manager after working for nearly 14 years with the Woodville center. But not only does she have a solid knowledge base to help the center, but she cares about the people she sees there on a daily basis.

“I think that’s why I love this job: I love people,” she said.

Brunkhorst explained she first started volunteering at the Woodville senior center in 2004 by calling bingo, but eventually grew to fill in at other times as well. It was not long before she was helping drive food the Woodville location provides to other area centers.

When the former manager at the Woodville senior center left the position, Brunkhorst filled in for a few months, and found out she enjoyed the work. She said watching and interacting with people who were so caring toward one another made her want to keep working there.

Still, it was not until the autumn and winter chill started to set in that the retired Baldwin woman realized she needed something to occupy her time during the winter months. When the great-granddaughter she had looked after from May 2016 until July 2017 was able to start day care, Brunkhorst knew she would need something to fill her time.

“When I got done (babysitting), thank God it was summer, because there was stuff to do. But when winter started – and fall – I was like ‘oh, what am I going to do?” she said, laughing. “So, I started thinking about going away (for the season), and this position came up.”

Brunkhorst works approximately 4.5 hours per day Monday through Thursday each week, and is present for everything from the morning coffee hour, through any planned activities, and the lunch served to those who report to the center each day. Before she leaves each day, she also lets the staff at Woodville know how many meals to plan for Glenwood City the following day.

The people who regularly attend meals, bingo, or coffee at the Glenwood City site seem to have welcomed the Baldwin woman with open arms.

“I never really ask people to do things,” she said. “I’ll just say it might be nice to have or do something, and people just start taking care of things. They’re all so kind.”

Brunkhorst worked in human services with children suffering from abuse or neglect prior to her retirement, and said her career, family, and life were a great blessing to her. She also knew she wanted to put some of the good she had been given back into the world, which led to her volunteering.

While she admitted she plans to stay in her position for only three or four years, Brunkhorst has plenty of ideas to keep people in the community occupied and interested in the center – and that does not mean just the senior members of the community.

She said she welcomes anyone who would like to come have coffee or play games, regardless of age. This month’s special events included a pajama party January 8, and polka dot day January 22, and there will be a show and tell session January 29.

She also indicated her goal is to start planning more trips to see plays, take boat rides, or even go see the Irvine Park Holiday Village in Chippewa Falls come Christmastime.

“Socialization really means a lot, and we do trips,” she noted. “And for the people who have meals delivered to homes, that little bit of interaction means so much.”

Still, Brunkhorst admits she will gladly take advice from the people served by the center, saying that it is the community’s building, and she is just there to take care of the nutrition and plan events.

Anyone interested in learning more about Brunkhorst and the senior center’s offerings can stop between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday, call the office at 715-265-7242, or email Brunkhorst at