SEMCAC Senior Dining in La Crescent celebrated the retirement of its beloved director on Wednesday.
Shirley Schwake has worked with seniors and volunteers in the program for 24 years. She says it was her desire to keep busy in her fifties that led her to apply for the position in 1993.
"I was a nurse at the daycare for the elderly and they closed their doors," she said. "So I saw this in the paper and thought, well this is working with the elderly and I've done it before so I applied and I got the job."
Since then, she's helped coordinate thousands of lunches at the senior center in La Crescent, providing seniors in the area a chance to get out of the house and socialize.
"It gives them a nutritious meal and the chance to do something other than sit around in the house," she said. "They can come out and socialize with others and it helps keep them active, both physically and mentally."
Schwake said she'll miss the seniors and volunteers she's gotten to know well over the years, but says it's likely she'll remain involved in some capacity moving forward.