Meet ArnaMusician, artist, storyteller and Socially Active Seniors activities coordinator.
By: Tammy Francois, Lake County News Chronicle
Socially Active Seniors in Two Harbors recently hired Arna Rennan as its activities coordinator.
Rennan started with SAS, which provides social and recreational opportunities to residents over age 55, at the beginning of July and hit the ground running with a pie social and fundraiser during Heritage Days that netted $860. Surrounded by dozens of jewel-like slices of fruit pies, apron covering her clothes and hair tied back, she fit right in and looked like she’d coordinated events like this forever.
“I enjoy good humor and interacting with people. There is so much to learn from others,” she said. “Everyone has a unique experience to share. In Two Harbors everything is in such close proximity. People get to know each other and people participate in making the community what it is. I’ve been so impressed by that.”
Membership in SAS is free. There are currently 300 people on its mailing list and past activities have included bus trips to Duluth for dinner and a show, presentations at the community center on topics of interest to seniors and fun and friendship events like picnics.
Rennan brings a wealth of experience to her new role and says she’s enjoying getting to know people in the community. She spent 13 years in Norway where she received her education, returning to Minnesota in 1986. To help her make the transition, she says she spent hours painting outdoors to reconnect with the environment she had left more than a decade before.
She refers to that process as “getting back to basics.” She has since taught painting in community education programs and for private groups and shows her work around the region. She is also a tour guide for a local company and uses her knowledge of the country and the language to enhance the experiences of American travelers to Norway.
Rennan has been a member of Sons of Norway, an organization that shares her dedication to preserving Norwegian heritage. She speaks Norwegian and plays Norwegian folk music throughout the region for community events, church groups and at nursing homes where she tells stories and jokes between songs. She says that performing in care facilities where residents have experienced loss of memory due to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia is particularly gratifying. She says she is touched when she sees glimmers of recognition on the faces of people when they hear tunes from their past.
“The music triggers things they heard from parents and grandparents,” Rennan said.
Now at SAS, Rennan can share her talent, creativity and interest in community.
Upcoming events for SAS include a talent show Wednesday, August 15th, at 6:30 p.m. at the Community Center, emceed by comedienne and pianist Sharon Anderson. Rennan is quick to say that talent comes in many forms. Musicians and singers are welcome, but she says, “Don’t be shy. Think broadly about [your] contribution to the show.” She encourages people to consider telling a story or a joke, dancing or reading a poem. The possibilities are endless. Call Doris Larkin by Aug. 8 at 834-5590 to sign up to share your talent. On August 29, a picnic is planned for Lakeview Park. The fun starts at 12 p.m., rain or shine.