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The Guest House unveils its new home on Oak Street
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The Guest House board member Carla Abshire, left, and executive director Dana Chapman enjoy the adult care center’s new location on Oak Street. - photo by NAT GURLEY

The Guest House open house

When: 5-7:30 p.m. May 17

Where: Suite A, 360 Oak St., Gainesville

Contact: 770-535-1487, theguesthouse.org

A few hiccups are to be expected with any major relocation.

The Guest House, a nonprofit adult day care facility, certainly had its share of challenges moving to its new location on Oak Street in Gainesville.

But though the nonprofit had to leave its beloved hobby shop behind, two heating-air conditioning units broke on the first day and bad weather threatened to delay the move, everything has finally come together.

Repairmen were busy working on the air conditioning units Thursday afternoon. The clients and staff spent the afternoon in the cool dining room watching volunteers perform and sing songs.

Staff and clients said they didn’t care that there was still a little work to be done. They were just glad to finally be in their new home.

“This is beautiful. It’s wondrous,” said Bernice Johnson, a client of The Guest House. “I think we’re all happy here. I know we are. We’re very happy. I think that the people that work here actually love it.”

The Guest House will hold an open house from 5 to 7:30 p.m. May 17.

Johnson said she personally loves how “bright” the new location is compared to the former building. She said the blue color of the walls make the building seem inviting.

She admitted she’d like to see some artwork hanging on the walls but understands it takes time to make a house a home.

“It’s so beautiful,” Johnson said. “There’s so much space. It’s just wonderful. I think more people are going to come. Oh yeah, they’ll be coming. And when they see it they’ll love it. They truly will love it.”

For the last 20 years, the nonprofit has been located at the Gainesville Housing Authority’s Tower Heights Apartments. The authority served the nonprofit an eviction notice late last year after the center was unable to negotiate a new lease since the old one expired in 2005. The center occupied the space rent-free.

Several local businesses and organizations came to aid the nonprofit and helped with every step of the process from finding a new, affordable location, renovating the space and helping to move into the space.

Two local businesses, Georgia Power and Padgham Fine Custom Home, have volunteered to provide the nonprofit with a new hobby shop. The nonprofit used the hobby shop to house its woodworking program which benefits clients, many who have with dementia, by providing an opportunity to practice hand-eye coordination.

Several local organizations, including First Presbyterian Church, Georgia Power, MailWorks and Highland Mountain Bottled Water, assisted the nonprofit with moving furniture and equipment last weekend.

Dana Chapman, executive director of The Guest House, said she’s grateful to the community for all its support during the process.

One of the nonprofit’s biggest concerns regarding the move was how to help the clients adjust. Sandy Pearson, activities director, said establishing a routine is very important when caring for patients with dementia.

To help clients adjust to the idea of moving to a new place, Pearson said she assured them they would still participate in the same activities, have the same furniture and decorations and the same volunteers and staff.

But each day leading up to the move, Pearson said she tried to build excitement by having a countdown. She, the staff and the clients would all shout “rah-rah” with their hands in the air.

“Then on our first day we toasted with water, pretending it was champagne,” Pearson said smiling. “Everybody is just really, really excited.”

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