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Guest House looks for new home
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The Guest House’s Norman Eggleston sands a piece of wood Tuesday morning that will be painted like a pumpkin when complete at The Guest House woodshop known as The Hobby Shop. The Guest House is looking for a new facility now that its lease has ended. It is the only adult day service in the area. It primarily serves people with Alzheimer’s disease.

Inside a small red building, a group of people sit around a heavy table while they vigorously sand and paint yard signs shaped like pumpkins.

The project they’re working on is engaging their minds and bodies, an important aspect of caring for patients with dementia.

“We try really hard to have simple things that people can be successful with that are not childlike, that provide them with some dignity and comfort,” said Dana Chapman, executive director of The Guest House.

Guests at the private, nonprofit adult day health center keep their minds engaged with activities including karaoke, crafts, wood shop and music.

Where they do those activities may be changing, though, as the center looks for a new home.

The Guest House has operated rent-free for years out of a Housing and Urban Development building in Tower Heights apartments. That lease has expired, and the organization is now trying to negotiate a new lease that would allow it to stay in the building until it is able to gather enough funds to move.

The center specializes in caring for adults with dementia and other physical and mental disabilities. Guests have a safe place to stay during the day while their families work and can still go home to their loved ones at night.

The center’s aim is to prevent, for as long as possible, patients having to go to a permanent care facility.

“The families know it’s a long grieving process, and when they can have their loved one come home at night and share a meal with them at night ... I think it helps families to let go and gives them as much good memory time as they can have,” Chapman said.

The center has a maximum capacity of 25 adults per day but sees around 60 adults each week.

The center got a boost in its fundraising goals from the recent Hearts and Hands Emporium at the First Baptist Church in Gainesville. Chapman said the total amount of money raised won’t be known until November. The church set a goal of raising $19,000.

Chapman said she’s busy reaching out to other individuals, organizations and churches that might be able to help raise enough money to start building. She is also attempting to find grant funding.

“I know we can get through this. It’s just a bad time but we’ll make it through this,” Chapman said. “In the end we’ll be bigger, safer, more permanent and self-sufficient.”

She said her vision for the center’s future includes expanding services to around 30 guests and building a more modern, slightly larger building with a similar floor plan so the guests still feel at home in their new building.

Of course, they’ll take the wood shop building with them.

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