Staff Writer | November 29, 2021 1:07 AM
COEUR d’ALENE — Michael Marinko visits Bennett House, an adult daycare center in Coeur d’Alene run by On Site For Seniors, three days a week.
As far as he’s concerned, it’s home away from home.
The Vietnam War veteran watches TV, plays games, reads, enjoys a cup of coffee and has conversations with whoever happens to be there.
He talks about one of the employees and their latest chess match.
“She won Monday pretty good, really kicked my butt,” Marinko said, smiling.
Chess is just one of Michael Marinko's daily challenges.
He doesn’t get out too often and can’t stand very long due to an ailing back. He suffered a brain injury and is battling dementia.
“Sometimes I forget what I’m talking about,” he said. “They’re helping me out with some of that.”
What the Post Falls man enjoys most about his visits to Bennett House for the past two years is how it challenges his mind, how it keeps it working.
“That’s what this place has actually done for me,” he said.
His wife, Ellen Marinko, heard about it through the Veterans Administration a few years ago.
“We thought it would be a good fit for Michael,” she said.
It has proven to be just that.
It keeps the 68-year-old in a safe, warm environment, and gives her time to complete errands and other chores.
“He enjoys coming here and that's what's most important,” she said.
“I enjoy it quite a bit. And like my wife said, it gives us both a chance to get away from each other, do our thing,” he said.
Which is exactly what Bill Muck, executive director of On Site For Seniors, a nonprofit, faith-based charity founded in 2008 in Coeur d’Alene with about 12 employees, likes to hear.
“We have a guy up at Sandpoint, 95 years old, he's a World War II veteran, just as sharp as a tack," Muck said. "If you just sit and talk with him for five minutes you're in love with this guy. And to hear how he's benefitted from our services is wonderful.
“You hear their stories. And it is heart touching.”
Muck wants others to know of those stories.
“I just think the community needs to be aware that we have this kind of a facility,” he said during a recent interview with The Press. “There's a lot of elderly here. There's a lot of retirement here in North Idaho.”
The program is designed to meet the needs of seniors by providing medical care through on-site house calls and telehealth services, by connecting them to resources, and by sharing the love of God through its adult day centers (including a second in Sandpoint), respite care, resource coaching, spiritual support and social visits.
Muck said he's found many seniors don't want to go out. They need someone they can trust to help them at home.
Services are funded by fees, insurance payments, grants and donations.
Muck, a pastor who is also leading the Crossroads Community Church in Rose Lake, came on board with On Site For Seniors about six months ago.
Prior, he was a pastor in Reno.
“I knew that I wanted to be something in a faith-based nonprofit because of my experiences and that's what I believe in,” he said.
“It’s like, this is an answered prayer. It has been a blessing for me to be here because I have what they need and they need what I have. It's a perfect, perfect match.”
Dave Sims is a board member with On Site for seniors. Prior, he used their services for medical care as he is a quadriplegic.
“I had them helping here for a year before I understood exactly all they offered,” he said.
Sims, a musician who also led an Overcomers Ministry at Real Life Ministries, believes On Site For Seniors can do more.
He was delighted Muck was brought on board with his background in raising funds and creating community awareness.
Due to limited fundraising opportunities because of COVID in the past two years, On Site For Seniors has struggled financially.
“As most small nonprofits do, never quite making ends meet,” Sims said.
So he's working on a major fundraiser. Until then, Sims wants to do all he can to let people know about On Site For Seniors.
"I really believe that God put this together, this opportunity," he said. "I think that once it gets on a roll I think God will take over and I think the funding will come in and I think there will be money to do some other things, as long as we stay faithful and use it in a godly way."