50 North: changing, expanding, and welcoming


Rockton Police Officer Penny Cure spoke with 50 North on Feb. 7, 2023 about avoiding online scams.

Leaders of 50 North, a Stateline organization for seniors, say they have experienced positive growth since starting in 2019, and are always welcoming new members.

Everyone who is the age of 50 plus is welcome to join in the fun. As of now, 50 North has between 25-35 regular members who enjoy perks that come with being a part of the organization.

Quality of life is enhanced through presentations, socialization, or programs offered at 50 North. There are no membership fees to pay.

50 North is a non-profit organization that usually meets twice a month at the Rockton Township Center302 W Main St. in Rockton. To get added to their mailing list, you can send an email to 50NorthActivityCenter@gmail.com. All their activities are listed on the Rockton-Roscoe News community calendar.

Sometime in either September of October, 50 North may be moving meetings to the Roscoe Township offices on Elevator Road, due to continued renovations and improvements at the Rockton Township Center.

Current president Diane LaForge reflects on early beginnings. “We noticed that there was no senior center anywhere in Winnebago County.”

LaForge researched demographics in each local town before proceeding with the idea of forming the organization. “ At that time Roscoe had about 27% of residents over the age of 50. Rockton had about 29%, and South Beloit had 19%.”

After first pitching the idea to village and township boards in Roscoe, Rockton and South Beloit, the group was met with great support from each entity. “We have nothing but good things to say about village leaders, townships and businesses,” LaForge said.

All of the entities have assisted with the funding of 50 North. “We are currently pursuing grants and are trying to get a more stable financial future,” LaForge said.

Gwen Stook serves as the Activities Coordinator. A Board of Directors consists of President Diane LaForge, Secretary Jane Schamell, and Treasurer John Schamell. Serving on the board are Roxanne Smith, Mark Grace, and Jeanne Nichols.

“Gwen is awesome at heading up activities, and organizing events plus providing refreshments,” LaForge said.

Barbara Cordones is a steady member. “As a regular member I enjoy the socialization it offers, going with friends, catching up with other members and meeting new people,” Cordones said.

She adds, “Many of our meetings feature different speakers on varied topics. They are interesting and we learn quite a bit from them. “

“The board does such a fantastic job of planning activities to keep us all socially engaged. The meeting days are days that we certainly look forward to.”

The next meeting is on Aug. 15 where a cookout at Settlers Park will create the perfect opportunity to see what 50 North is about. The group will be welcoming the Winnebago County Sheriff's Department who will have a speaker feature details on their services.

On Sept. 5 a speaker will give an overview on action in local schools. The Sept. 19 meeting program is yet to be determined. In October, they hope to hear from a local fire department to get tips and pointers during Fire Prevention month. If enough interest is shown, a trip to the apple orchard will be arranged, bringing fall fun into the limelight.

Anyone who might need transportation can call SMTD for a ride at a reasonable fare. Adults up to 64 years old ride for $3. Seniors 65 or older, or someone who is disabled (with prior certification), can ride for $1.50. SMTD stands by the motto, “We're here to get you there.” Call 877-561-3330 to schedule a ride. More details on registering to ride can be found on the SMTD website.

Board member Roxanne Smith adds, “We are looking to do major events in the future. We want to get larger groups together. We would love to tap into having someone be a guest speaker from a local police department, school officials, Village or Township officials,” Smith said.

“Come once, meet us, and find out what we are all about with no obligation, " LaForge said. As interest grows the group hopes to accommodate the introduction of more meetings.

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