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Day Break's new day

"Oak Harbor's adult day care program is planning for a growth spurt. Organizers of the city's Day Break and Respite Program hope to move to new premises next door to the Oak Harbor Senior Center by December - a move that will allow them to all but double the amount of service they can provide. A crucial zoning change will allow the Oak Harbor Senior Center, which runs the program, to install a manufactured building on a Whidbey Avenue lot. The Oak Harbor City Council passed the zoning change at its Sept. 19 meeting.There are other zoning and code issues to be dealt with before the building can be put in place, Oak Harbor Senior Center director Bridget DeMuth said Friday, but if all goes well, the Day Break program will be able to move before the end of December.The move is a major turn-around for the program, which provides daytime care and social programs for disabled and elderly adults, and allows for respite time for care-givers. Last year, the program - which is partially funded by the City of Oak Harbor - was threatened by city budget cuts following the passage of Initiative 695.Then the Oak Harbor Lutheran Church, which has provided space for Day Break since the program began six years ago, asked the organizers if they could find new quarters by the end of the year because the church needed the room it was using.The Oak Harbor Lutheran Church has been absolutely wonderful from the beginning, Day Break program coordinator Jennifer Lamar said. They told us a year ago that they needed the space. The Senior Center began looking for a new home, but no suitable rental spaces were available, DeMuth said. Opting to install a manufactured building in open space between the Senior Center and the Oak Harbor Fire Department on Whidbey Avenue means that the center will have to raise $100,000 by the end of the year, and DeMuth and the board of the Senior Center and are already working on that.Site preparation is expected to begin this week. The site of the building will be disturbed as little as possible, DeMuth said, and the two small houses next door to the Center will stay. The Senior Center itself also needs to be expanded, DeMuth said, but that step is likely four or five years away. ------------------A new home will allow the Day Break and Respite Program to expand its services dramatically and meet a major, growing need for working families, Oak Harbor Senior Center director Bridget DeMuth said.The expanded program should also make it easier for the adult day center to pay its own way, said Day Break program coordinator Jennifer Lamar. After the move to a new building next to the Oak Harbor Senior Center in December, the program will immediately be extended from three to five days a week and the center is expected to be open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Lamar said. At present, center hours are 9:30 a.m to 2:30 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.What the community needs from our program is the ability to provide services for working families, Lamar said. It's a demand that's expected to grow as more families provide home care for disabled or elderly relatives. The program has a current enrollment of 18, but in the new premises it will be able to take up to 30 clients. The hourly charge is $8.50 an hour and clients have to be enrolled before they can attend. The center also plans to provide additional health care services and has had talks with Whidbey General Hospital and the Veterans' Administration about how they can work with together.That would bring in Medicare and Medicaid payments that would expand the program's revenue sources, Lamar said. Additional clients and hours of service will also increase the center's income.The goal is not to have the city contribute to our budget at all, Lamar said, although the mayor has said that the city would continue to support us until we are stable.This year the city contributed $20,000 of the program's $87,000 budget. Next year, Lamar hopes to be able to reduce that to $10,900 which would match Island County's contribution. But Lamar hopes the center will be 75 percent self-supporting in a year or two. Although we will always need community support, she said.Larger premises will also make it possible to improve the services offered to day care clients, Lamar said. Three different program areas are planned in the new building to allow separate programs and facilities for people with different levels of disability. The expansion, and the plans to be more self-supporting, are exciting for program organizers who were worried about how the center would continue after budget cuts last year. What we've done is, we've gone back into the community, Lamar said. If we stay the way we are, we can't survive. We have to expand. "

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