FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – One Purpose Senior Adventures is a brand new program that recently launched in Fort Wayne. Its mission is to grant bucket list wishes for senior citizens who meet certain financial qualifications, and are living in a congregate setting.
The program is headed up by Sherri Berghoff, the chairman of the board of directors. She spent many years working in long-term care at skilled nursing facilities and assisted living homes.
When asked why she wanted to launch a program like this, tears filled her eyes.
“My grandmother always played a really important part of my life,” she said. “She passed away before I had my children so my children never got to know here. After that, I started working in long-term care and I found myself surrounded by grandmothers.”
Berghoff says she learned a lot talking to the residents.
“I got to thinking about my career working on long-term care in skilled nursing and working in assisted living, and what I often found is that they had a lot of regrets about things they didn’t do in their lives or things they wish they would’ve done one more time,” said Berghoff. “So I kept thinking I can’t do everything, but this is something I can do. I’m adventurous, I’ve been on a lot of adventures myself, I’ve been white water rafting, ziplining, skydiving, cliff diving, I’ve run marathons, and I thought this is something I can do, so why not do it.”
Really, she started doing it about 5 years ago. The first wish she granted was at the request of her mother who she was visiting in southern Tennessee.
“Normally we do the simple things – go out to eat, go shopping – but one particular year, about 5 years ago, my mother said ‘you know I saw pictures of you taking the kids ziplining. I think I’d like to try that.'”
So, the two went ziplining the very next day.
“That kind of started an annual tradition of going on an adventure and checking something off of her bucket list each year,” said Berghoff. “The next year, my mother is deathly afraid of water, but we went white water rafting.”
The adventures didn’t stop with mom. Berghoff’s dad got in on the fun, too.
“He saw me posting all these pictures so he said ‘well I kind of want to try ziplining,’ so at 81 my dad went ziplining for the first time.”
Other trips with her her mom included a trip to Dollywood and a hot air balloon ride. Their next adventure will be visiting Branson, Missouri, and flying in a big airplane for the first time. Berghoff says the adventures sparked a change in her mom.
“It was a renewed spirit, it gave them something to look forward to, it gave her, in my opinion, a sense of purpose.”
Berghoff says OPS Adventures wants to help other senior citizens in the community enjoy fun, thrilling, and meaningful experiences that are by no means out of reach.
“It could be as simple as I’ve never been to a professional baseball game, or I’ve never seen my grandson play football and I’d really like to attend a game, or I want to ride in a Corvette because I’ve never driven in a Corvette before,” said Berghoff. “It doesn’t have to be skydiving or cliff diving. What I want people to understand is that a bucket list wish for anyone can be just about anything.”
OPS Adventures is currently in the application process for its 501(c)(3) status, and through her research for that, Berghoff says she learned how the program can potentially improve people’s quality of life.
“There’s a lot of research out there that shows that just having something to look forward to, something to hope for, something to dream about and think about, improves people’s health. Plus, once you show them that they’re capable, there’s a renewed energy that brings back a sense of wanting to do more,” said Berghoff. “I could see, just like my mom, that once we do one adventure with a senior that they could see ‘hey, I can still dream about things I haven’t done and there’s still a way to make that happen for me.'”
Berghoff says nothing is off limits per se, however some applicants may have limitations that OPS Adventures would need to evaluate and determine if they can make the wish happen safely.
“It will chance the vibe of a community when they can get their seniors involved in something like this.”
Below are application qualifications:
- Applicant/wish recipient must meet Medicaid financial qualification.
- Applicant/wish recipient must currently be residing in a skilled nursing or assisted living community.
- Applicant/wish recipient must be physically able (with moderate modifications/support) to participate in the activity requested through the Bucket List wish application.
After an application has been submitted, it goes through an application review process. An application does not guarantee a wish will be funded/granted.