Active Generations enters final phase of new east-side building

Renderings by ISG

Active Generations is on track to open its second Sioux Falls location this summer and has started a final fundraising effort.

The new center at Dawley Farm Village will take pressure off the one at 2300 W. 46th St. and position the organization for a future in which it estimates the aging population of Minnehaha County is expected to double by 2035.

“Everything we do will be duplicated at the east-side location,” president and CEO Gerald Beninga said. “We’re in great shape but not quite done yet.”

Construction on the 30,000-square-foot building began about a year ago in the area of 18th Street and Foss Avenue with a lead gift from Denny Sanford.

It includes an enlarged space for Active Generations’ Day Break services, which offer guided care for individuals with dementia, Alzheimer’s disease or other diagnoses that do not allow them to be home while their caregivers are away. It’s estimated the east-side location will support more than 30 individuals daily to start.

“That program is growing significantly,” Beninga said. “We absorb quickly. It’s amazing. We survey people that use our services, and 30 percent say if we didn’t have that program they would be unable to work or keep up with their personal schedules, shopping and medical appointments. It’s a quality-of-life issue.”

There also is outdoor gathering space and two outdoor pickleball courts, which will be ready as soon as weather allows painting to be done.

Indoor fitness is a focus as well, with dedicated space for pickleball, which has been “extremely popular” at the west-side location, Beninga said. There’s also room for group fitness classes, activities and a flexible studio space for arts and crafts.

Active Generation is involved in about 60 activities.

“We’re also going to expand some of the exercise programs and classes … for the adult population to continue to rehab, so balance and strength classes are extremely important in that age group to prevent falls,” Beninga said. “So that will be an emphasis.”

Hours also will be expanded at both locations to encourage participation earlier in the morning and after work. While Active Generations mostly serves those 60 and older, it’s open to all ages with a membership. In 2022, an annual membership for a couple was $70 and applies to the social and recreational portion of the center. Day services, nutrition programming, caregiver outreach, tax help and other services do not require membership and largely are supported with donations.

Work on the east-side location is three or four months away from being done, Beninga said.

Recently, Active Generations and the Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce launched a $3.7 million community appeals campaign to help with the balance of the estimated $16.3 million project. The emphasis in fundraising includes the Day Break program, options for social engagement and well-being programs, and nutrition services.

At the new location, Active Generations expects to serve up to 200 more meals daily, as well as expanded Meals on Wheels programming. Volunteers will be able to pick up meals on the east side as that program’s participation has swelled since the pandemic.

The overall goal of all programming is to help older adults age in place as independently as possible, Beninga said.

“If there’s anything we learned from COVID, it’s how important social and recreational engagement is to people,” he said. “Especially this group that doesn’t spend as much time virtually or on the internet. They want personal contact, and I get that.”

More than 70 community leaders signed on to help drive the Active Generations campaign, led by Premier Bankcard CEO Miles Beacom, Avera Health CEO Bob Sutton and Sanford Health CEO Bill Gassen.

“It’s really going to enhance the quality of life for the aging population — and it’s convenient,” Beacom said. “A lot of people don’t go places in Sioux Falls because it’s not convenient, so this will really help the aging population continue to utilize those services.”

The campaign also is a good chance to educate the community about the services offered, and early response has been “very positive,” he said. “People are aware of the need, businesses are, and this just pulls at the heartstrings of the community. For our appeals kickoff, we said this is a great way to say thank you to the aging population for building the city of Sioux Falls into the great city it is today.”

The community appeals campaign runs through July 31.

“I’m thrilled to death with the leadership and the number of people who have volunteered to support this effort,” Beninga said. “It’s been everything and more than what we expected.” View the story on the SiouxFalls.Business website.