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Seniors share in Minnesota pastime with ‘Let’s Go Fishing’

July 21, 2008

Founder Joe Holm looks to open a chapter in the Dassel-Cokato area

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

Eight Cokato Manor residents recently set sail on Buffalo Lake as part of a Let’s Go Fishing excursion.

Free of charge, seniors 55 and older can spend a couple hours on the water through Let’s Go Fishing chapters across the state.

“It was phenomenal,” said Joy Marschel, Cokato Manor activities director.

Marschel recalled senior participants commenting on the wonderful experience they had – “even though we didn’t catch anything,” she said.

One resident commented, “I can’t remember the last time I was on the water,” and “This is just like paradise.” Another resident said, “When can we go again?”

After seeing how much her first group enjoyed the program, Marschel scheduled two other fishing trips in August.

The outreach program began in 2002 founded by Joe Holm in Willmar. After enduring a series of tragic events in his life Holm began to realize life wasn’t all about him and he felt the need to give to others.

The program’s mission is “Giving back to those who have given so much.” Holm believes in improving the quality of life for others, especially seniors.

“The older we get, we are limited to the activities we can do,” Holm said, explaining the fishing pontoons are handicapped-accessible as well as safe and secure.

There are 19 different locations across the state, which have served 10,000 people already this year, and save approximately 200 people every day (except weekends), according to Holm.

Just recently, Holm was told of an elderly woman who hadn’t spoken in four years but participated in the Willmar chapter’s Let’s Go Fishing event.

That day she spoke, saying how beautiful it was and that it reminded her of her homeland in Norway.

With the success of the senior program, Let’s Go Fishing has expanded to include hospice patients (regardless of age), youth, and veterans.

The program’s success depends on the volunteers and chapter leaders since it is a nonprofit organization.

Let’s go fishing in DC

Holm is looking for dedicated individuals in the Dassel-Cokato area who would be willing to be on a committee with the hopes of starting a Let’s Go Fishing chapter in the DC area.

To determine if their was enough interest in the area, Holm visited the Marketplace in Cokato.

There, Holm spoke with residents, including Cokato resident Rollie Severson who thinks it would be a good thing for the surrounding communities, he said.

“Especially people in nursing homes to get them out and go fishing,” Severson said.

There are some start-up costs including the purchase of a pontoon, but with fundraising and the support of local service organizations, Severson says it can be done.

“With the rising amount of seniors, there are people interested that would like to see this grow,” Holm said.

Interested in starting a ‘Let’s Go Fishing’ chapter?

Anyone interested in working to start a Let’s Go Fishing chapter in the area may contact Rollie Severson at (320) 286-5023.

For more information on “Let’s Go Fishing” senior outings, check out the web site at www.lgfws.com.

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