SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — During the pandemic, residents at nursing and assisted living homes couldn’t leave their facilities. But today, Good Sam Sioux Falls Center residents are leaving their home for a day of fun.

With warm weather in the forecast, Good Sam residents spent the afternoon enjoying a picnic before heading into the Great Plains Zoo.

“I’m so flipping excited. I tell you what I haven’t been to the zoo since my son and I went for what’s it called? For the… Zoo Boo, Halloween. That’s been years ago. And I know it’s changed. Let’s get in there, I don’t even want to eat,” Penny Humphrey said.

Humphrey says it’s not just the animals she’s excited about, but simply the opportunity to get outdoors with other residents.

And she’s not the only one excited.

“It warms my heart to be able to bring these, the residents out to this kind of activity. Enhancing the quality of life for my residents is not only my job, but it’s my passion,” Cathy Pirrung said.

While going to the zoo may seem like a small activity for most, GSS residents here today say it’s something much more.

That’s because today’s activity is one of the first group outings since the pandemic hit KELOLAND, making the day’s events feel even more special.

“This is really exciting for us with the pandemic this last year. It’s been really hard on our residents and heartbreaking for myself and our staff. So being able to bring them out into the community again is, is a blessing,” Pirrung said.

Humphrey says getting fresh air with friends feels great, and the best part? Stopping by her favorite animals.

“I love the penguins. Just how they go walk and I don’t know. They’re just, they’re just cool. And I want to see the, I want to see everything,” Humphrey said.

In addition to the zoo outing today, Good Sam residents are looking forward to more activities planned in the future.