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Skyview Plaza residents bake to build beauty salon

Residents at Skyview Plaza have a perpetual bake sale table that is open to the public set up in their main meeting space. Proceeds from the fundraiser are helping to build a patio behind the facility. Pictured (L-R) are some of the residents involved with the fundraising: Veree Fox, Jeannette Wolfmeyer, Lorraine Meichsner, Marge Benson, Dottie Sperr, Shirley Nohl and Josie Esterling. (Kim Ukura/Morris Sun Tribune)

In just six months, the residents and staff at Skyview Plaza have worked together to raise enough money to add a beauty salon and patio to their facility, and they don’t plan to stop working hard just yet.

When resident Lorraine Meichsner and her husband moved to Skyview Plaza six years ago, there were plans to include amenities like a beauty salon and small store. Unfortunately, they were cut from the project because the building was over budget, said Danielle Lesmeister, housing manager.

Last fall, Lesmeister approached the tenants about doing some fundraising to make improvements to the facility. The tenants were excited about the idea, and voted to use the money they raised to add a beauty/barber shop.

For resident Josie Esterling, adding the beauty salon was important because it’s difficult to go out in the winter and find a hairdresser. For Shirley Nohl, contributing to Skyview Plaza has helped make it feel more like home.

The first big fundraiser for the project was a garage sale and bake sale last September.

“It was the first one, so I wasn't expecting it to be very successful,” said Lesmeister, but by 7 a.m., there was a line outside the facility of customers excited to make purchases.

At the sale, Esterling had two full tables of canned goods like salsa and pickles. Others offered bread, rolls, pies, cookies and cakes – enough to fill four more tables of baked goods. Almost everything the residents baked or donated was sold, bringing in $1,600 towards their goal.

The fundraising didn't stop there. Residents put together two quilts that were raffled off, the Skyview Plaza staff spent a night earning tips at Pizza Ranch, the residents hosted a spaghetti supper and organized a “Cookie Factory” to sell more baked goods.

In total, the residents of Skyview Plaza raised more than $6,000 to help cover the cost of the new beauty shop. Skyview Plaza's local board of directors agreed to help pay for the rest of the project.

“It happened a heck of a lot faster than I thought it would -- I thought it would be years down the road,” said Lesmeister. Right now, the shop is about 75 percent finished and will hopefully be opening soon.

But the residents of Skyview Plaza have caught the fundraising bug, and have continued to work towards their second goal, adding a patio or deck behind the building.

Several residents have continued to donate goodies for an ongoing “garage sale” table just inside in the main entrance, while others continue to bake homemade pies, breads, caramel and cinnamon rolls, cookies and more for an ongoing bake sale table. Other residents have made contributions of traditional Scandinavian and Danish foods.

“The bake sales are going over so good because our generation doesn’t get the homemade goods,” said Mandy Rice, assistant director of housing and homecare. “I can’t make a pie from scratch, so we all race to the table when there’s bread and rolls.”

“I wake up each morning and ask, ‘What can I bake today?” said Nohl.

Community members are welcome to come to Skyview Plaza and check out the offerings at the bake sale table. Payment is on an honor system -- just put your money in the box.

Tenants who don’t have time to bake or craft have been helping as well, donating supplies to bakers like Esterling and Nohl and quilter Marge Benson to keep up their work. Last fall, Morris area community members brought tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers for Esterling to use while she was canning.

“I have people come to my door with nuts and flour and sugar, and I go and borrow from Dottie [Sperr] when I run out,” said Esterling. “Any kind of food is welcome -- we can turn it into something.”

“It's just been an amazing sense of community,” said Lesmeister. “We’ve got a pretty small group here, and everybody came out to help.”

Skyview Plaza will be hosting a community supper in early June. Residents will help bake desserts and clear tables during the event, and proceeds will go to funding the patio project.