It was a full house at the Coon Rapids Civic Center April 22 for the retirement ceremony of Senior Services Program Specialist Kris Niebler. She was recognized for her years of service by family, coworkers and the many seniors she served.
" I have loved every minute of this job, for 26 years,” Niebler said. “So who can say that and it's all about the people."
The story of Kris Niebler and the Coon Rapids Senior Center involves hundreds of seniors who've come through the doors over the years.
"There were many times Kris would be that guide who would introduce them to the welcoming group in the center,” Cindy Olson the Senior Services Program Assistant said. “Soon that person would belong to a new community who met new friends, went on a bus trip, tried a new hobby, became a volunteer and a life was changed."
Every year, Niebler and Olson would host a Senior Volunteer Appreciation luncheon, along with entertainment provided by the staff.
"The volunteer skits is what we would do a lot of and that took a lot of creativity,” Olson said. “And a lot of times it was just last minute things that we were doing, but it always turned out to be fun."
One great challenge for Kris came during the dark times of the COVID-19 lockdown while thinking of activities to do for the seniors.
"I think I'm most proud of getting us through COVID with some creative, innovative ideas."
Those ideas included parking lot Bingo which became a big hit with seniors who could keep socially distant in their cars. They also arranged a pen pal program and phone calls to seniors stuck at home. The Senior Center and Coon Rapids Police Department sponsored a drive-by food drive, which brought in donations to support the local food shelf. For Niebler, it was often the little things that made her job so special.
"Last week, we got a letter from a son who said we saved his mother's life,” Niebler said. “When her husband died, she didn't have anything else to do."
In the next chapter of her life, Niebler said she plans to do a lot of fishing and spend more time with family including her two grandchildren.
“I'm just blessed, very blessed, thank you,” Niebler said.