SHAMOKIN — In the basement of the Northumberland County Career and Arts Center lies a hidden gem: the VNA Caring Center.
The adult day care program allows individuals with functional and cognitive disabilities to receive basic health maintenance, participate in discussion groups, education and exercise programs, and most importantly, have fun.
Director Rose Miller, LPN, said the center can accommodate 30 clients, and has 22 presently. Clients can attend one day or all five, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The clients have different health needs, so staff members work to make sure each need is met so clients and their family members feel comfortable and at ease.
The center alleviates stress for family members who take care of their loved ones at home but also work full-time jobs. It’s an alternative to needing to place a loved one in a long-term care facility.
rabbittransit provides door-to-door pickup for clients who live in Northumberland County; those outside the county must provide their own transportation.
Several clients said they began attending adult day care at other locations, but found them to be boring. When they found the VNA Care Center, they said they found a place they belong.
Mary Dutter’s daughter-in-law found the center for her, and she was more than happy to transfer.
“We’refriends. We’re like family. I like the games they play and the parties,” Dutter said. “I just love everybody that’s here.”
Gloria Yoder, who also transferred from a different center, compared it to being in school ,where she’s surrounded by those close to her age. They aren’t alone, and they are safe, she said.
Activities coordinator Sandy Delorso keeps them all busy, whether through playing games or making crafts or having a party.
The crew celebrated Valentine’s Day on Tuesday with dancing, coloring and creating fancy holiday themed picture frames for old photos. Vic Boris, a fan favorite, had to cancel his performance because of illness.
But the party went on. Spirits were high as music played, and the clients enjoyed two heart-shaped cakes baked by the culinary arts students at the Northumberland County Career and Technology Center and donated by Chef Jim Schiavoni.
Josephine “Josie” Varano, who calls herself “personable, awesome and the mayor,” loves it at daycare, especially when it comes to activities. Win or lose, she said she is guaranteed to throw herself into a game of horse shoes, pass the ball, kick the ball, ring toss or bingo.
There’s never a dull moment, according to the group. That extends to the staff.
“We have a lot of goodlaughs — we do!” Delorso said. “And they keep me on my toes, and that’s great.”
She wishes more people knew about the center because she believes it’s a truly remarkable place.
Delorso organizes parties for each holiday, and students from the Shamokin Elementary Annex sometimes participate. For Christmas, they stopped by and performed songs from their Christmas concert and received small gifts, and they will return for an Easter party where the clients will hide eggs for them to find.
Pizza parties are a hit, too. Pies have been donated by OIP, Two Guys Restaurant and Pizza Hut.
Delorso has also arranged visits from Kingdom Kidz, Shamokin Area and Lourdes school choirs and, coming soon, a group of square dancers who have performed around the world.
Help and pride
Input is welcome from clients, and the staff members say they work quickly to address ideas. Clients are also quick to help one another.
As a special Valentine’s Day git, Joanne McGinn colored a beautiful heart picture for the ladies at the center and proudly pointed to a colorful piece hanging from a railing.
“I want to learn to be an artist,” she said, but it appears she’s already reached that goal.
(To learn more about the VNA Caring Center, call the Area Agency on Aging at 570-495-2395 or the center at 570-644-4536.)