America is a country rich in natural resources, but through our history we have learned that our most valuable resource is the strong spirit of entrepreneurship that lives within so many Americans. To honor that spirit, we are highlighting people of the Second District who exhibit the Spirit of America in their communities.
Rep. Ellmers talks with a participant at Family Circle Day Care Center while Director Olu Adebiyi looks on.
Mrs. Olu Adebiyi, who runs Family Circle Elder Day Care Center in Garner, is a wonderful example of the Spirit of America. After the birth of her third son, Olu decided to go into nursing and worked with Resources for Seniors from 1991 to 1998. Olu saw a need for quality elder day care in the region and started Family Circle in 2000.
As a nurse, Olu found that many seniors have family members who are able to care for them at night and on the weekends, but need someone to care for them during the day. Instead of entering nursing home care, these seniors can thrive with quality day care and Olu says, “they deserve better care than what many of them were receiving -- they needed a home away from home.”
Olu decided to do something to fill this need herself. She has applied for grants, but started and continues to fund the center largely with her own money, along with private contributions. She works the 3rdshift (11 PM to 7 AM) as a nurse, with much of her paycheck going to fund the center, then works at the center during the day without pay. The work Olu does at the center is a labor of love. She says our seniors deserve to receive the best care possible. “They deserve more. They’ve raised their children, they’ve supported their government with their taxes – this should be their time for others to care for them.”
Olu refers to those at the center as “participants” for good reason: she is always looking for ways for them to participate in activities and interact with each other. On one day a guest visiting Family Circle might be met at the door by a woman shaking a maraca and leading a roomful of others doing the same. On another a visitor might enter a roomful of seniors singing along to piano music or working on craft projects. The atmosphere is one full of life and energy and more closely resembles a home than any type of institution.
Olu says she has had success with the participants at Family Circle by tapping into the past. She finds out what they used to do, and what they are physically able to do now, and uses that as a bridge to reach them. A woman came to Olu in tears saying her mother refused to do anything anymore. She said she used to play piano, but now if asked would tell you that she could not play. In time Olu was able to coax the woman into playing and eventually she played the piano regularly while others sang along. One woman who used to crochet picked up the hobby again after Olu asked her to teach her how to do it. She says another woman, who used to be a teacher, thought of Family Circle as a university and even held a spelling bee at the center.
Participants at Family Circle work on hobby and craft projects using materials that have been donated to them. They’ve made bookmarks using pressed flowers from Olu’s garden, baskets out of discarded Christmas cards, and various other projects depending on what materials are on hand. Olu even planted an herb garden in the screened-in front porch of the center. Both one-on-one and group engagement in hobbies and special interests such as music, gardening and arts and crafts provides opportunities for participants to learn from and share with each other, form friendships and increase self esteem.
The center opens at 7:30 a.m. and closes at 6 p.m., but Olu often stays later, depending on what time family members arrive to pick up the participants. During the day, participants are served breakfast and lunch, exercise multiple times, rest and enjoy group activities such as crafts and music. Many have Alzheimer’s and require medication. The center is required to employ a nurse on staff in addition to Olu. Because she is the director of the center, Olu is not allowed to act as the nurse on duty.
The cost of care at Family Circle is much less than the cost of a nursing home, but it is not covered under Medicare. Medicaid will pay for care at the center for those who qualify, but only for a portion of what it costs the center to provide the care and only for the days participants are there (even though their spaces must be held for days when they sometimes don’t attend). Even though the center faces these and other funding challenges, Adebiyi is determined that her work there will continue, and she has faith that it will. She says, “I know God is with us.”
For more information about the work Ms. Adebiyi is doing at Family Circle Elder Day Care Center, visit their website at http://www.familycircleeldercare.com