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Lenius says goodbye: Mahube's senior programs director to retire Jan. 15

The Becker County Care Guide has been one of the projects that Karen Lenius has been in charge of during her 11 years as the county's Senior Coordinator. Lenius will be retiring from her duties as director of senior programs for Mahube-Otwa Community Action on Jan. 15. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)

Chicago native Karen Lenius has filled many different posts in her 30 years with Mahube-Otwa Community Action. But for the past 11 of those years, she has served as Becker County's "go-to" person when it comes to answering questions about Medicare, RSVP, or any number of senior care programs in the region.

"In some ways, the jobs that I have held here at Mahube have paralleled my own life," says Lenius. "When I started in August of 1989, as a home visitor with Head Start, my youngest daughter Donna had just started school."

She spent 11 years as a home visitor, then another 7 years as Head Start's home-based coordinator before becoming Mahube's director of RSVP (Retired Senior Volunteer Program) and senior programs, which also included her duties as Becker County Coordinator on Aging.

"I like working with seniors one on one, helping them resolve problems," she says. "And I appreciate all that I've learned about the Medicare system and other senior programs as a result."

But Lenius, who turned 65 this past spring, says that she's now ready to try something new: retirement.

"I will be 66 in April, so I think it's time for me to go," she said, adding that her husband Dan has already been retired for almost two years. "There are a lot of things we want to do and places we want to go, and we want to be able to do those things while we still have the health and energy to enjoy them."

Not that she's going to stop working entirely.

"I've kept up my teaching license," she says, adding that her first job after graduating from Concordia Teacher's College (now Concordia University) in Seward, Nebraska, was as a kindergarten teacher. "I may decide to do some sub work in area schools. And I'm also interested in working with the Tax Aid program as a volunteer. I got certified (as a tax preparer) last year."

(Lenius has helped to coordinate Mahube's Volunteer Income Tax Aid program since she started working as its senior programs director 11 years ago.)

"My husband and I also want to do some traveling," she added, "but I'm mostly looking forward to the opportunity to reorganize my priorities."

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 17 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454