50 North gets grant to expand opportunities for seniors


Leaders of 50 North are always welcoming new members aged 50 or more. 

One of the group's goals is to apply for grants, and now they have received their first.

A $3,000 Community Impact Grant from the Stateline Community Foundation will help 50 North purchase audio equipment to make it
easier for those who have hearing issues to listen to their guest speakers. The grant will also help them better cover the cost of programs.

"We are incredibly grateful to the Stateline Community Foundation for this generous grant, which will directly benefit our members," LaForge said.

LaForge adds, “This significant investment demonstrates Stateline Community Foundation's dedication to improving the life of seniors in the Stateline area.”

“It is our hope to create a fun, inclusive environment where attendees can thrive, build new connections and to experience the joys of community engagement. We also hope to expand our numbers as more seniors become aware of our group.

50 North is a non-profit 501 c3 organization geared for adults who are 50 years of age, or older. They have experienced positive growth since starting in 2019.

Currently 50 North meets twice a month, at the the Rockton Township Center, 302 W Main St. in Rockton on the first and third Tuesdays from 1-3 p.m. The next program is on March 19 where the focus will be on Easter with games and the long time tradition of egg coloring.

The organization started modestly. Current president Diane LaForge said, “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%.”

The group pitched the idea to Village and Township boards in Roscoe, Rockton, and South Beloit, and 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 these municipalities have helped to fund 50 North.

Members like it. “This is a great outing for seniors. They have some very interesting programs covering local history, travelogues, and we also play games. We also always have snacks,” member Vera Flood said.

The board of directors consists of president Diane LaForge, secretary Jane Schamell, and treasurer John Schamell. Also serving on the board are Roxanne Smith, Mark Grace, and Jeanne Nichols. Board member Gwen Stook serves as the event programs director.

Everyone who has reached the age of 50 plus is welcome to join in the fun! As of now, the group has 50 regular members who enjoy perks that come with being a part of the organization.

LaForge and other members assisted during the 2023 Rockton Christmas Walk where they took pictures with Santa.

Looking forward, members are looking forward to volunteering in local schools, with various projects.

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

Anyone who might need transportation to activities can call SMTD to get 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 can be found on the SMTD website.

In using these grant funds, 50 North seeks to reinforce the belief that age should never be a barrier to leading a fulfilling life. By creating an environment that fosters support and companionship, seniors are enabled to enjoy their golden years with a sense of purpose, enthusiasm and vitality.

“We are always open to new ideas and suggestions,” La Forge said.

More information on 50 North can be found by calling 815-624-4488. All their activities are listed on the Rockton-Roscoe News community calendar. To get added to their mailing list, you can send an email to 50NorthActivityCenter@gmail.com

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