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Cooper Corner back in business

Dennis Webb

Hildegard Wuesthoff of New Castle is celebrating a homecoming of sorts.An original client of the Cooper Corner adult day care center in Glenwood Springs, the New Castle resident went a year without the facility’s service when a funding shortfall forced it to close.Now it’s open again. And on Monday, Wuesthoff was back, partaking in the day’s activities and lunch, and giving her husband and caretaker, Hans, time to tend to other affairs.”He has therapy today and she comes to the program while he goes to therapy,” said Renee Littlefair, executive director of Cooper Corner.That’s what the program is all about, she said. Cooper Corner provides a place where seniors can get care while their relatives get a break.Thanks to a $60,000 seed grant from the state of Colorado, Cooper Corner is back in business at the First United Methodist Church, 824 Cooper Ave. in Glenwood Springs.Littlefair is all smiles over the center being back.”I love it. It’s my heart. When we had to close, I really cried,” she said.Littlefair credits any number of people and organizations with getting Cooper Center reopened. Karen Matel, the program’s board treasurer, wrote the application for the state grant. The city of Glenwood Springs let Cooper Corner keep a 2004 grant for purposes such as maintaining a telephone line even while the program was in suspension.Valley View Hospital is providing meals to Cooper Corner at a reduced rate through its Meals on Wheels program. Encouragement and assistance also are coming through Colorado Mountain College’s Senior Programs and Travelers bus transportation service for seniors. The Aspen Valley Medical Foundation, a past donor, is urging Cooper Corner to reapply during its next grant application cycle, as the program seeks out the money needed to sustain it after the seed money expires.The Methodist Church has continued to provide operating space and other crucial support since Mary Anne Watson, the wife of the church’s then-pastor, Keith Watson, helped found Cooper Corner in the late 1990s.Volunteers also are essential to the effort. C.J. Gredig, a registered nurse, helps oversee the program. Musicians stop by to entertain clients, and artisans instruct them in crafts. More volunteers are always welcome.On Monday, Jessica Wright, a relative of Littlefair’s from Arvada, led Wuesthoff and Pauline Flis of Glenwood Springs in some beadwork.”I like crafts, I like to do them, so I decided to come and help out,” Wright said.Flis, who is from New England, came to Colorado in September. Her daughter and son-in-law work, and she said Cooper Corner gives her an alternative to staying home and lying around on the couch.”It keeps us busy, out of trouble,” she said with a smile. “It’s a nice place.”Flis brought her knitting needles with the intention of working on a sweater. But on Monday she had a ball of fur rather than a ball of yarn on her lap, as Littlefair’s 2-year-old shih tzu, Oreo, gave Flis some loving attention.Aluna Chen, Flis’ daughter, said she was thankful when Cooper Corner reopened.”It’s definitely a blessing that it’s open because then you know that there’s a good, safe place for your parent to be, so you can feel good to go to work or go do whatever you need to do,” she said.Before, she said, she and her husband had to juggle their schedules, sometimes not work, or leave her mother at home longer than Chen would have preferred.Clients pay $55 to stay at Cooper Corner for a full day, or $30 for a half day. Some clients’ costs are covered by Medicaid.All clients require a physician’s order to attend Cooper Corner. Littlefair said the program is regulated by the state. Staff members make sure that clients take any required medications and abide by dietary and medical restrictions, and can assist those with physical limitations.Littlefair is a certified nurse’s assistant. She previously ran the Alzheimer’s unit at Heritage Park Care Center in Carbondale, and also worked in assisted living there. Littlefair said Heritage Park has supported Cooper Corner in its reopening.Cooper Corner also is staffed by program director Dixie Marshall. It must maintain a ratio of at least one staff member for every eight clients, and so it currently can accept up to 16 people.The facility is open Mondays and Wednesdays, but hopes to return to its former schedule of operating five days a week, for the sake of clients’ caregivers, Littlefair said.”For people who are working, the two days are going to help them, but not cover them totally,” she said.Cooper Corner is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. but can be flexible to meet caretakers’ needs, Littlefair said.Anyone wanting more information on the program can contact Littlefair at 947-1233, or Cooper Corner board president Debbie Hull at 945-6232.Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext. 516dwebb@postindependent.com


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