'A big piece of joy' — Perham Living seeks volunteers

Perham Living and Elevate recently met with community members to discuss different volunteer opportunities available at Perham Living.

(From left) Tracy Brockpahler, Mindi Larson, Emily Dreyer and Madison Miller sit one of Perham Living's trishaw bikes together.
Elizabeth Vierkant / Perham Focus

PERHAM — Volunteering has changed since the start of COVID-19 pandemic, but that doesn't mean volunteers aren't still needed throughout the Perham-area community. Elevate and Perham Living got together to host a volunteer fair on Friday, April 28 for community members looking to assist area seniors. As visitors came in, representatives explained just what folks can do to volunteer and how to get started.

"We're just looking for a bunch of different volunteer opportunities," said Mindi Larson with Elevate. "We're just trying to show people that these aren't things that you have to be committed to every Tuesday. You can just show up and do whatever you'd like to do. It doesn't necessarily have to be a set schedule."

A lot of these available volunteer opportunities are different from your "typical" volunteer work. Last year, Perham Living put in an application for a grant and received two trishaw bikes, a transportation invention from Denmark.

An able-bodied person can get behind the wheel of a complex and safe bike, meant to push seated seniors around throughout the community who may miss biking or being outdoors. Volunteers can then "drive" a couple, siblings or even friends from Perham Living to get ice cream or go to local events. There's no set schedule. All volunteers need to do is let Perham Living know that they'd like to come give a ride about an hour ahead of time so they can get the residents ready.

"We've taken it down to the fair, or we've taken it to the food trucks at the bank," said Madison Miller with Perham Living, reflecting on the importance of volunteer work. "COVID kind of pushed us back. We're conditioned to being in our rooms now. We're used to being alone. We're missing a lot of the connection to the community."


Emily Dreyer shows off one of Perham Living's trishaw bikes, which helps to take seniors in assisted living biking around town.
Elizabeth Vierkant / Perham Focus

There are several different volunteer options for anyone who'd like to start as soon as possible: volunteers can help with Bingo, passing out quarters and assisting with cards. They can help with Happy Hour from setting up, taking/delivering orders and chatting with residents. They can also deliver food to seniors throughout the community with the Meals on Wheels program. Volunteers can also help with church services by playing piano, singing, passing out hymnals, and more

There are more volunteer options available after a background check. This includes taking residents for rides on the trishaw bikes or a UTV (utility terrain vehicle). They can also help out in the gift shop or do one-on-one/small group visits. This includes manicures, walks, coffee talks, reading, crafts, games and more.

"If anyone had a pet they would want to bring in and just have their pet visit, they just need to make sure the pets are up to date on shots, but you can bring your dog, and you just visit," Larson said. "It really is just anything — cooking, backing, sitting and visiting. That's a huge part. They just want somebody new, a new face to talk to."

For more information about volunteer opportunities, go to . For Perham Living volunteer opportunities, call Maggie at 218-347-1887.

"I think our residents are usually pretty set in their ways and oftentimes (use wheelchairs). There's only so much you can do indoors. So this brings a big piece of joy to their day," said Tracy Brockpahler with Perham Living. "We've had residents say, 'Let's go ride past my old house,' or they'll point out places or friends' homes. So that's pretty cool."

Elizabeth (she/her), 24, graduated with a degree in Journalism and Communications from the University of Wisconsin–Stout in 2020. Elizabeth has always had a passion for telling stories about people and specializes in community features, which she uses for her Perham-centered content.
What To Read Next
Get Local