CareLink supporters, volunteers and staff celebrated the opening of their Community Kitchen and the Peggy and Joe Hastings Respite Center at a Preview Party recently at 2100 Pike Ave. in North Little Rock.
The event was the culmination of the multi-year “Come to the Table Campaign” which raised more than $5 million from supporters in central Arkansas who recognize the importance of meeting nutritional needs of seniors and respite needs of family caregivers. As more baby boomers age, the demand for CareLink services like Meals on Wheels, Senior Center meals and Adult Day Health Care Center continues to increase.
“You were invited here today because you were an important part of making this facility possible,” said CareLink Board Member Jerry Damerow. “You have made it possible for CareLink to triple its capacity to serve those who need us in the coming years.”
Come to the Table Campaign Co-Chairs Sen. David Pryor and Barbara Pryor joined major donors Dom and Karen Yezzi; Meals on Wheels recipient Jimmy Kendrick; North Little Rock Mayor Joe Smith; Campaign Cabinet members Damerow, Jay Heflin, Kathy Roberts and Alfred Williams; Board of Directors Building Chair Don Collie; and Project Manager Jonathan Semans.
Shawn Carroll and Van Tilbury from East-Harding Construction and Dustin Davis, Reese Rowland, David Porter, Joe Stanley, Morgan Balmer and Kim Prescott from Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects also were in attendance.
“More than 250 people contributed to the campaign, and we are grateful for every gift,” said Williams. “You can be very proud of the spacious, efficient commercial kitchen that will begin operation later this week and of the comfort-filled respite center and gated courtyard that will open next week.”
The structure was built as a Safeway Store in the early 1950s. As children, CareLink board members David Zakrzewski and Don Collie and donor Karen Yezzi remember shopping with their parents in the Safeway. Meals on Wheels recipient Jimmy Kendrick dug the footings for the building when he was in high school. Refurbished signs from the old store are used as artwork. CareLink purchased the building in 2008, and supporters broke ground for the renovation in October 2012.
According to Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects, the building’s exterior color pattern creates an instantly identifiable image, reflecting a tapestry or quilt of different colors of equal size panels that are unified as one whole. The panels represent the many different individuals CareLink serves.
The kitchen at the east end of the building is 13,000 square feet, compared to the old kitchen’s 1,100 square feet. Currently 1,200 meals will be prepared in the new kitchen each weekday, but it is equipped to serve 2,000 meals a day with space to keep growing to 3,000 meals per day.
Donors Karen and Dom Yezzi named the Respite Center in memory of Karen’s parents and furnished it in memory of her niece, Karen Cox Powers. The Peggy and Joe Hastings Respite Center is licensed as an Adult Day Health Care Center, with an R.N. who can dispense medications as part of the care team. Hours are 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and at a cost of $10.16 per hour. Caregivers may enroll their family members for full-time or part-time care.
The Grainger Williams Volunteer Center on the northeast corner was funded by the Ottenheimer Brothers Foundation of Little Rock to honor their former trustee who delivered Meals on Wheels as a volunteer. Meals on Wheels volunteers will have designated parking and a separate entrance to pick up meals for North Little Rock delivery routes. A loyal group of volunteers make meal delivery possible every weekday, saving CareLink more than $1 million dollars each year.
CareLink’s drivers and their vehicles support the efforts of CareLink’s volunteers by dropping meals at 12 pickup locations and taking people to and from nine Senior Centers and the Respite Center. The drivers will use the loading dock at the southeast corner of the building located near office space for the dispatcher and transportation coordinator.
CareLink is a nonprofit agency that provides resources for older people and their families. Last year more than 18,000 people in Faulkner, Lonoke, Monroe, Prairie, Pulaski and Saline counties were assisted to help them stay active and in their own homes, avoiding more costly care. Older people and their caregivers can get the information and assistance they need from CareLink at 372-5300, toll-free 800-482-6359 or by visiting carelink.org.