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Faces: Fitness instructor, volunteer enjoys Crosslake community

Donna Keiffer, a Crosslake resident and active member of Immaculate Heart Catholic Church, enjoys teaching fitness, volunteering and involvement in the Crosslake community.

Donna teaches several fitness classes at the Crosslake Community Center.

“That’s pretty much my second home, besides my church. That might be my second one,” Donna said.

She is at the community center four mornings a week and teaches six Silver Sneakers classes. The number of participants varies, but Donna estimated that she teaches about 70 individuals throughout a week in the Silver Sneakers program.

The Silver Sneakers classes offer a unique opportunity for senior citizens that Donna finds enjoyable and encouraging to teach.

“I love it. I am seeing improvements in many people. One lady used to use a cane and she comes walking into the gym now,” Donna said.

Seniors can pay for the Silver Sneakers class with Medicare or their supplemental insurance may cover it. Thus, the class is free for many participants. The Silver Sneakers program has been available at the Crosslake Community Center since October.

“We’ve been really privileged to get them here,” Donna said.

The participants have time to socialize as well as participate in fitness activities.

“They leave with a smile on their face. It’s very fulfilling to me. I just don’t think I’ve done anything that I like more,” she said.

Besides her fitness classes, Donna’s church is a primary passion. She has attended Immaculate Heart Catholic Church in Crosslake for 18 years.

“I love my church,” she said.

Donna serves as a Eucharistic minister and has been the bereavement facilitator at the church for 11 years.

“That’s been a really great reward since I lost my husband, and I know how people feel when they’re lonely and they lose their best friend,” she said.

Donna’s own life experiences led her to the position as the bereavement facilitator.

She grew up in Oakes, N.D., and later moved to the Twin Cities to attend business school.

She met her husband, Jack, and worked in sales in the Twin Cities for many years. Donna and Jack built their house on Rush Lake in 1969, and they came up from Plymouth on and off before moving to the area permanently in 1995.

“My husband was my dearest, dearest friend,” Donna said. Jack passed away 12 years ago.

“It’s a good feeling to see people smile when they are crying at the same time, because we do that,” Donna added about the bereavement group.

In addition to Donna’s active involvement in her church, she has also been involved in the broader Crosslake community. When she and Jack moved to the area permanently, Donna became a member of the city council.

“Once you’ve been on the city council you see what the people there have to do for the city and to make people happy,” she said. “You can add all of that up to respect for what it takes to take care of a city.”

Although she is no longer a part of the city council, she definitely enjoys the Crosslake area.

“I love everything about where I live,” Donna said.

“After my husband passed away, I was thinking of moving back to the city, but by that time my youngest son had moved to Pequot and that gave me a good reason to stay in the area,” she said.

Donna was soon able to stay even closer to her son, John, along with his wife, Jeanne, and children Jack, Joe and Julia.

“We got together and took my home and remodeled it, and my son and his family moved in,” she said.

In addition to fitness classes, church involvement and her family, Donna’s hobbies include painting, gardening, snowshoeing and participating in a book club. Another gratifying activity for Donna is volunteering at Camp Knutson in Crosslake.

“As a matter of fact, I just helped with the kitchen last night for the children with skin disorders, and I do think that that’s one of the most fulfilling things I have ever done while volunteering is helping those children,” Donna said.

“I’ve never seen so many kids laugh as I did last night. They have their bodies wrapped and they can’t be in the sun, just having a horrible time, and yet they just laughed,” she said.