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Service marks six months in new home

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July 27, 2016
Community Action Agency’s Adult Day Services has hit the six-month mark of being in its new home in Escanaba.
ADS, formerly known as Perspectives, serves residents with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, and is a valuable resource for their caregivers and family members.
In January ADS moved from leased office space in north Escanaba to the newly-built Gary Abrahamson Jr. Memory Care Center, 2635 1st Ave. S.
The new site was largely built thanks to a donation from Patt Abrahamson-Besse in memory of her son, who had been a participant in the CAA service. The building is owned by Sisters of St. Paul de Chartres, which owns and operates the Bishop Noa Home. The Memory Care Center building is located on property adjacent to the Bishop Noa Home.
Julie Moberg
CAA Executive Director Julie Moberg said the service is a benefit to the entire county.
“It helps keep people living in their homes instead of having to go to a nursing home. We have a very strong partnership with the Memory Care Center Board, but we still need funding to support the actual service that goes on inside of the building. We have one grant that supports the program, and the rest of the funding is made up with local funds and donations,” Moberg said.
ADS falls under CAA Senior Services, which is directed by Sally Kidd.
“This new building is beautiful. It has greatly increased our capacity and has the best amenities, like a wonderful kitchen, sitting area, meeting room, outside grounds for strolling, laundry, and a beautify central area for participants and their daily activities,” said Kidd.
Sally Kidd
Kidd said while CAA and Sisters of St. Paul de Chartres are great partners, it’s important for residents to realize the Memory Care Center houses the CAA service. “We couldn’t be happier about this new home for our service, but the Memory Care Center and its fund-raising activities have nothing to do with our service, and we continue to face financial challenges,” Kidd said.
 The goal of ADS is to provide fully-trained, patient, caring and loving staff, enhancing the abilities of Alzheimer’s participants and encourage their independence in activities. The service emphasizes positive interaction and socialization for all participants, relieving caregivers.
The service underwent a big change eight years ago when state funding ended. At that time CAA decided to continue the service using funds from millage, fees and donations. Those property tax revenues for all Senior Services were passed more than 30 years ago and renewed twice by voters. ADS also utilizes donations and contributions, and $11,500 from the Upper Peninsula Commission on Area Progress, to make ends meet.
ADS budget for this fiscal year is $155,000.
“Each year it’s a struggle to make ends meet, and we beat the bushes hoping to find more revenue. There is such a great need, and we sincerely thank property owners, civic groups, residents and patrons for helping us serve families going through this incredibly difficult time in their lives,” Kidd said.
In summer 2015 Abrahamson-Besse approached CAA with the idea of funding a new building for its service. While searching for possible sites, Kidd said she became aware that Bishop Noa was looking into providing a similar service at its site in Escanaba. Abrahamson-Besse, Bishop Noa and CAA, after many meetings, decided to join forces to benefit the community.
“This is one of the best examples I’ve seen of a private and public partnership benefitting so many people. We suggest people call us and set up a visit. It’s one of the nicest facilities and most effective services in the state,” Kidd said.
The new, larger site has increased awareness in the community, leading to even more demand. Currently ADS is serving 18 families, an almost 30 percent increase from the number of participants at its previous site.
Kidd said CAA is starting to refocus its fund-raising for ADS, including a letter-writing campaign to residents and civic groups, with a kickoff during Alzheimer’s Awareness Month in November. “But, our efforts go year-around, so if residents and groups would like to consider a large gift before November, it would be greatly appreciated,” Kidd said.
Jalme Roshak
ADS Supervisor Jaime Roshak, who leads four part-time aides, said the Memory Care Center is a great home. “This is a beautiful facility for our program. Our clients enjoy the different spaces available to us. The sunroom, the kitchen, the patio, and especially the seating area by the fireplace, which gives the facility a very warm comfortable feel. It’s a home away from home,” Roshak said.
Gary Ballweg, Kipling, is a big ADS supporter. His wife, Sara, has been participating in the program since December after first being diagnosed in March 2015.
“The first year I thought I could do it all myself. How wrong I was. People need these programs,” Ballweg said.
He said Sara has spent three hours a day at the service 40-50 times. “Knowing she is a safe and caring environment, that she is going to be taken care of and, for the most part, be happy. I don’t have to worry,” Ballweg said.
Sara’s complications from the disease first became apparent in spring 2014 when the now retired Delta County sheriff was still on the job.
“In my own mind I was just writing it off to old age. Of course I didn’t realize it was going to advance that quickly,” Ballweg said. Gary knew it was serious the first time Sara soon couldn’t remember her grandchildren’s names or that their daughters were married.
I can’t say enough about the staff. As soon as she walks in door there is someone there to greet her, call her by name, ask her how she is, bring up a memory from her past to make her feel comfortable,” Ballweg said.
The benefits are real.
“She didn’t always participate in everything, but the last month she really loves it there. She’s having lots of fun participating in most of the games and activities. At the end of her day there, even if she doesn’t remember she was there, she still has that contentment,” he said.