Circles of Caring opens its doors again

·3 min read

Jun. 10—A local agency that provides daytime care to adults has reopened its doors again in Pullman after being shut down for more than a year.

Circles of Caring on Bishop Boulevard is inviting families to use its services that were put on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It's so much fun to have people back in the building, and they're so excited to be back," said Program Director Holly Adona.

Circles of Caring, for adults who cannot or do not want to be left home alone during the daytime, provides social and cognitive stimulation for the participants, as well as medical oversight.

Just as importantly, the program provides respite for family members who care for their loved ones at home, Adona said.

"It's a big job," she said about being a caregiver. "I don't think people realize how big of a job it is until they're in the middle of it."

Before the pandemic, Circles of Caring participants took part in individualized exercise programs to maintain their muscle tone and range of motion. They also participated in games or crafts, ate lunch, drank coffee and chatted with others about the news of the day or other topics.

As Adona and her staff reintroduce these activities again, she would like to team up with Washington State University students when they return to campus next fall. Before COVID-19, student volunteers from the WSU Center for Civic Engagement and the women's tennis team would stop by Circles of Caring to play games, socialize and even sing songs with the participants.

"They just bring a whole new energy to the room, and it's so exciting to have them here," she said.

Circles of Caring serves Whitman and Latah counties and works with Pullman Transit and Coast Transportation to bring people to the facility. It also has its own van that it uses to pick up participants.

Marcia Saneholtz, president of the Circles of Caring board of directors, said there were multiple factors that forced the program to shut its doors for more than a year. In addition to Washington's COVID-19 mandates, many of the participants did not want to come into the facility for fear of exposure to the virus.

"Everybody was so uncertain about what this was going to be like and how infectious is it going to be, and nobody wants to take any chances with either themselves, the staff or with participants," Saneholtz said. "It really didn't seem like we had any alternative except to close down."

Meanwhile, Circles of Caring had to cancel important fundraising events such as a tennis tournament and pickleball tournament. The pickleball tournament alone generated approximately $30,000 a year, Saneholtz said.

The Circles of Caring board kept meeting every month, while Adona tried to contact participants over Zoom. She also left small craft projects at the door of their residences.

After communicating with Whitman County Public Health, the board decided to open again this month.

The agency hopes to revive its fundraising events and invite more participants to use its services. Before the pandemic, Adona said, Circles of Caring served 25 participants a day in its facility. Now, it has a total of 30 participants with six to nine in the building at any one time.

The agency gets its funding through grants, fundraising and reimbursements from Washington and Idaho for Medicaid. It was formed in Moscow in 2001 and moved to Pullman in 2014.

Circles of Caring invites people to donate to the agency. They can do so at circlesofcaring.org or make checks available to Circles of Caring Adult Day Services and mail them to 588 SE Bishop Blvd., Suite D, Pullman WA 99163.

Kuipers can be reached at akuipers@dnews.com.

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