Senior Resources director loves helping people

Published 3:22 pm Sunday, March 5, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

April Schuur’s job keeps her busy.

“I oversee the programs for our seniors of Freeborn County,” said Schuur, executive director at Senior Resources of Freeborn County. “We have four programs here.”

The programs include ride services for seniors and people who are disabled, chore services for seniors, the advocacy program and the family care program. In total, she said the five-person organization served around 600 unique clients every year, with most of them being 60 or older.

Email newsletter signup

Chore services includes lawn mowing and snow removal, while the advocacy program helps people fill out paper work for Social Security, human services, those wanting to fill out applications for the energy-assistance program and the family caregivers that offer support groups and counseling.

Before joining the organization, she had worked with seniors in home health for close to 20 years, and has been in home health in some form since she was 15.

“I got involved in it because the need to have people who have empathy and to have the ability to do it and the strength to do it is so great,” she said. “Just like when we have a volunteer, when they have empathy for the people that they serve, it carries over to that person and it brightens their day. It helps lessen their depression just as it does the volunteer.”

Schuur speaks from experience, as she suffered from postpartum depression but said volunteering helped her out of it quickly.

“Working here, working with the seniors that I work with keeps me upbeat, it keeps me moving,” she said. “It’s better for me to keep coming back to work than not coming back to work — it always keeps me happy.”

She decided to apply for the Senior Resources position after she kept seeing an ad and thinking about it.

“I have a master’s in health care administration,” she said. “I was kind of looking at jobs in that kind of area.”

Rather than working in a nursing home, she said she also thought working at a nonprofit would be more beneficial for seniors because she knew many of them wanted to stay in their homes.

“I know how much my grandparents struggled on a farm and wanted to stay in their own home, and they weren’t allowed to,” she said.

Her favorite part about her work is the people she deals with. Paperwork, on the other hand, was challenging.

“You want to put it off because you want to keep working with the clients,” she said.

She said there is no typical day for her in her job but said much of the day is spent assisting program coordinators and completing paperwork that may be needed for grants.

“Most days, I work a little bit on each grant that we have, whether it’s through the Area Agency on Aging, or whether it’s through a different grant that we may have through another program.”

She will also answer calls, do counseling, coach staff and work with other nonprofits to help particular clients.

She has also worked in fast food and retail, which involved customer service.

“Almost every job you work in, you work in customer service,” she said. “If you can’t do customer service, then you really can’t do a job nowadays.”

Schuur will have been at Senior Resources of Freeborn County for two years in March.

One lesson the job has taught her: Don’t take things for granted.

“We’ve have clients that we have had for many years, and we had one that just passed away on Christmas,” she said. “She was always a delight to talk to.”

The center has also had clients who used to work for the organization.

“Seniors is a really big chunk in Freeborn County,” she said. “We don’t just serve Albert Lea, we do serve all the little towns as well.”

The organization also provides rides for medical and mental health-related appointments for younger individuals who are not wheelchair bound.