Retirees build bonds, share activities through Men’s Sheds program

A Men's Shed group works on a bench in Hopkins, Minnesota. (FOX 9)

After a year of lockdowns because of the pandemic, there's a new opportunity for older men to get out and socialize.

An organization called Men's Sheds is giving them the space to come together while helping out the community. Philip Johnson, managing director of the U.S. Men’s Shed Association, says members are usually retirees.

"This is a great way for men just to have somebody else to talk to," said Johnson.

"When you’re lonely you don’t have anyone to talk about your loneliness with," Johnson added.

At meetings, men gather to work on projects, such as woodworking and gardening, listen to guest speakers or take field trips. Johnson says the projects are secondary to the organization’s true mission.

"The importance of men shed isn’t to do the activities that we do, the importance is to have someone to talk to," said Johnson.

It’s an idea borrowed from overseas with Men’s Sheds growing in Australia and throughout Europe. Now, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture is looking to help grow the Men’s Shed communities in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

"We have a lot of older men out in the countryside who are retired or semi-retired from farming and it can be a lonely life," said Meg Moynihan, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture senior advisor.

Between locations in Hopkins, Mound, Roseville, Minnetonka and Crystal, all are welcome for this non-prescription attempt at addressing mental health. 

Already nearly 200 people, farmers, clergymen, and librarians are registered for a virtual men shed meeting in Minnesota scheduled for July 21. To register, click here.