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  • Writer's pictureVern at A Helping Hand

Mason City adult day program provides a respite and hopeAPRIL 11, 2022

The Salvation Army’s Adult Day Health Center in Mason City, Iowa, first opened its doors in 1988 and has remained a refuge in the community for participants and their families ever since. Designed to provide care for adults who are limited in their ability to function independently, the center is open Monday through Friday and currently serves 22 people.

“Our program is intended to provide a relaxing, safe and fun environment for our participants, where they can smile, socialize and be themselves,” explained Kay Hohenfield, director of the center. “Our participants face challenges with their health, which can be stressful to both themselves and their caretakers. Our program provides a respite for participants and their families on weekdays while ensuring that all health-related needs are taken care of.”

The program offers community members a free “trial day” to ensure it’s a good fit for the attendee, caretaker and staff. Since the center does not have an advertising budget, it relies on word of mouth for referrals. Recently, the program received several positive referrals from spouses of participants, which helped them reach more families in need.

“Our program operates with two clear goals in mind. Number one, keeping our participants functioning independently for as long as possible,” explained Kay. “This means that we don’t help everyone with every activity, but rather encourage them to maintain and build on the skills they had before. Our second goal is simply to have a lot of fun in everything that we do, and I think we accomplish that every day.”

The arrival of COVID-19 in 2020 led to the closure of the center during the governor’s stay-at-home order, but eventually despite the challenges posed by the pandemic all but one participant returned.

“COVID-19 has been difficult for our participants and their families, especially earlier on in the pandemic,” said Kay. “Obviously, being a caretaker can be challenging, especially when it is 24/7, but people often underestimate how difficult it is for the participants themselves. Our program is a place where they can smile, laugh and socialize. All of these things build a sense of self-worth and potentially add years to their lives.”

As the pandemic wanes, participants and staff look forward to resuming outings in the community and welcoming guests and groups to the center to provide entertainment.

“It has been our blessing to be a part of this ministry and to get to know the participants,” added Majors Geffory and Leticia Crowell, Mason City corps officers. “This ministry is very important and keeps the participants filled with fellowship, structure and fun-filled activities that help promote spiritual growth.”

Kay concluded, “Our program is a place where they will find family and friends—a home away from home. As the pandemic improves, we believe that our program and ministry will emerge even stronger than before.”

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