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Open house spotlights adult day center facility
Facility marks its 25th year
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Karen Riddle, executive director of Edwards Adult Day Center, stands in one of the common areas of the facility. The center, at 431 Commonwealth Blvd. near Hooker Field, is hosting an open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)

Friday, September 13, 2013

By BEN R. WILLIAMS - Bulletin staff writer

Edwards Adult Day Center is celebrating its 25th anniversary today, and everyone is invited to join the party.

The center, at 431 Commonwealth Blvd. near Hooker Field, is hosting an open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today. Executive Director Karen Riddle invites the public to stop by and take a tour of the facility.

“You don’t ever know exactly what something is until you see it,” Riddle said, “so that’s why the open house is great. People can come and see what it is and what we do.”

Edwards Adult Day Center offers daytime assistance — from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays — for adults 18 and older who are not able to stay at home alone, according to Riddle. It offers social, cognitive and recreational activities along with the same or better level of health care that would be found in a nursing home.

“We’re a combination health care/social model,” she said, “so all of our program staff are either CNAs (certified nursing assistants) or LPNs (licensed practical nurses). We have an RN on duty every day. We provide assistance with activities of daily living as well as companionship and exploration of new activities.”

Riddle is a certified therapeutic recreation specialist, or CTRS. Many of the activities she helps oversee at the center are designed to improve the motor skills and cognitive abilities of the participants.

In the 1980s, Riddle said, the center began when a number of women at First Presbyterian Church in Martinsville volunteered to sit with older church members during the day because their families did not feel comfortable leaving them alone. The service proved popular, and the number of participants grew.

In 1988, Lucy Pannill Sale donated a building to the group to use as an adult day care facility. In 2005, then-director Alice Culler spearheaded a capital campaign to build a new, larger building next door to the old one, and one of the campaign’s largest donors — Ray Edwards — asked that the building be named after his parents. His father had been a long-time participant at the center, and his mother volunteered there for many years, Riddle said.

The center currently serves 42 clients, although it has the capacity for 70, Riddle said. Over the past seven years, the center has served almost 500 people, and since its inception, she estimated it has served roughly 1,200 to 1,500 clients.

“One big thing to know about the adult day center,” she said, “is that everybody doesn’t come every day. It’s based on what the caregiver needs.”

Caregivers are grateful for the center’s assistance, Riddle said.

One such caregiver, Linda Mitchell, described the center as “a life saver.”

“It gives the caregivers an opportunity to take care of their home and take care of the everyday running of their families,” she said. “Until you’ve walked a mile in these shoes, you don’t have any idea how time consuming just caring for that one individual is. Everything else falls by the wayside.”

Mitchell’s husband has been going to the center for the last two years, she said.

“I just think it’s a jewel here in Martinsville,” she added, “and too many people don’t know it’s available to them. I’m hoping the word gets out.”

According to Riddle, studies have shown that the stress of taking care of a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia is so great it can lead to increased health problems for the caregiver.

“We provide a viable option to give the caregivers a break,” she said. “For me, the most rewarding part is knowing I’ve made a difference in somebody’s life, that I’ve made life easier for somebody, that we have helped relieve what could have been a burden.”

Faith Ingram, who has worked at the center for about 10 years, said she enjoys “seeing the smiles on the participants’ faces and making them laugh. Because when they laugh, they will light up this room.”

One client, Harrison Smith, who has been attending the center for 15 years, took a break from a game of bingo to offer his own opinion on the center.

“I love this place,” Smith said.


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