Call it her bucket list. Call it a long-term goal. Call it leaving a legacy.
Call it got ‘er done.
Louise Schmidt said she had hoped to get the Senior Center accredited before retirement.
Wouldn’t you know, the Older Adult and Volunteer Coordinator did just that. It was her first attempt and one of the last things she did in her near decade-long tenure.
The Wisconsin Association of Senior Centers (WASC) sent the good news last month.
“Accreditation is a great accomplishment, highlighting your organization’s commitment to excellence in programs and activities. It also documents your dedication to operating at the highest standards possible in a Senior Center,” the letter from WASC states.
The Menomonee Falls Senior Center is one of less than 30 accredited centers across the state.
“Successfully achieving accreditation status takes the work of many people both in the senior center and in the community. When these two groups work together the rewards will be felt for many years to come,” said Joan Erickson, director of the Community Education and Recreation Department. “Congratulations go out to Louise Schmidt for a well-deserved achievement that she pursued diligently. The accreditation could serve as a crown jewel of her many accomplishments with the department,”
Schmidt put together a committee including center members Dick Kasper, Marilyn Jaeger, Mary Jane Mroczek and John Clancey. The group met monthly from February through May in preparation. It filled out 43 pages worth of questions and was interviewed by three WASC representatives.
“They ask about everything from the programs you offer to when the bug guy comes and sprays the building,” Schmidt said. “It was pretty thorough. They checked the bathrooms and the fire alarms.”
The process was even an education for Schmidt.
“I learned a lot about finance ... how the district runs,” she said.
The WASC learned about one of the center’s unique qualities.
“We’re a rarity, a district that has a senior center connected to the district,” Schmidt said. “They didn’t know exactly how we fit in. We talked about that for quite a while.”
And Schmidt smiled for quite a while upon learning the center was indeed accredited.
“It was what I called my bucket list, the last thing I wanted to do before I retired,” she said. “I’m proud of the people who helped me. They really did a great service for the center.”
It will be five years before the center needs to apply for reaccreditation. Schmidt said the first time is the most difficult.
It will be years that the fruits of Schmidt and her committee’s labor will be felt as the committee will continue to meet every three months to consistently improve the center.
“Louise and the committee have set the ground work for continued success and improvement of senior programming,” Erickson said.
Schmidt retires at the end of this month. The capable Lori Oertel steps into her role to take the center to the next level.
This article was contributed by Menomonee Falls School District Public Information Director Mitch Maersch.