One persistent Tellico Village resident is on a mission to provide local residents living with early dementia a place of their own.
After learning about her husband’s dementia diagnosis, Sue Newman joined a support group where she learned about Concord Adult Day Enrichment Center. CADES specializes in adults who are in the early stages of dementia like Newman’s husband.
“He had to give up so many of the activities that he was able to do before,” Newman said. “He wound up spending most of his time sitting inside in front of the television set, and it was just kind of sad because people can live for a lot of years in that kind of limbo where they’re not quite who they were, but they’re not ready for some kind of long-term care facility.”
CADES was a 45-minute commute for Newman and other Villagers she met there. She initially asked the CADES director to open a branch in Tellico Village, but that wasn’t an option, which prompted Newman to look into starting her own adult day center, Our PLACE.
The community has jumped on board, supporting Newman and her vision.
All four churches in the Village were looking at ways to help Our PLACE become a reality. Newman encountered ups and downs along the way, specifically with finding a place for Our PLACE to call home.
After looking into licensing and using church spaces, it was decided the only way to proceed and receive funding from the Tellico Community Foundation would be to start from scratch.
“Our only other option we have is to build something, so we got back in touch with the Tellico Community Foundation who at the same time was getting a donation of property in front of Food Lion … with the understanding that it would be used for the benefit of the people in Tellico Village,” Newman said. “So they said to us, ‘If you can raise the money to build this center and open it as a licensed day care center, we will give you up to one acre of that property. So that’s our challenge.”
Joe Beyel, Tellico Community Foundation chairman, said Vick Green was the “catalyst” for claiming the land in front of Food Lion.
“It was through his efforts to try to identify how best to use the property, we were invited in,” Beyel said. “… It just came to our attention that we would be the best organization to accept the gift because of our affiliation with the East Tennessee Foundation. … We are able to manage and we hope to eventually grant at least an acre of that property to Our PLACE.”
Newman credits the involvement of the community as the biggest driving force in getting Our PLACE set up.
“It’s just kind of all coming together,” she said. “As we meet with different groups, other people add on. Originally, it was just the churches. Then we had the Rotary Club, Lions Club, Kiwanis and all the service organizations, the Women’s Club, retired military clubs, VFW and the American Legion and Garden Club. That, to me, is the beauty of our community. I’m not making it happen, they’re making it happen.”
The current pandemic has put a temporary halt to fundraising plans, but Newman isn’t letting that discourage her. She hopes to have Our PLACE operational by early 2022.
“We are dedicated to supporting Our PLACE,” Beyel said. “We want them to find a home, and we have entered into a memorandum of understanding with them that upon reaching certain milestones in their fundraising and their work toward achieving licensure that we’ll make the grant of up to an acre of property as the home for Our PLACE. So we’re 100 percent behind them, and we want them to succeed.”
For more information, visit www.ourplacetn.org. Contributions can be made online or mailed to 202 Chota Place, Loudon, TN 37774.