As visitors and clients walked into the common area of the "Do Drop In" Tuesday afternoon, smiles grew as they took in the surroundings of a much-needed project.
Four common areas with couches, chairs, tables and lamps were arranged in various patterns. Purple cutout hearts were posted around the area with "wish items." A glass vase containing black-eyed Susans sat on a wooden desk as tragtime music played in the background.
The daytime center is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays. It will help homeless and mentally ill utilize necessary resources such as Medicare, jobs, living and health-care services. The center came to fruition after months of hard work by director Dee Dee Foremaster, a licensed social worker of 20 years.
Foremaster is also the director of the Rural Center for Independent Living. It is in the shelter at 411 Hot Springs Road, No. 4. As she thanked many people and public services for making the center possible, Foremaster said, "It surely takes a community to make this happen."
Shelley Corder, 51, of Carson City received help from Foremaster several years ago. Corder had jumped down an embankment shattering her left knee and breaking her left leg. She lost her job and became homeless.
"I'm no longer homeless," Corder said. "And I'm living a much better life, thanks to Dee Dee."
Corder came to the center in support of Foremaster and to volunteer. So did David Sorensen, 31, of Carson City.
At age 25, Sorensen lost his job and was diagnosed as bipolar and with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. He also has a physical disability.
"I found Dee Dee, and through vocational rehab and assistance from Dee Dee with Social Security and Medicare, I am no longer homeless."
Sorensen was homeless for four months, living at FISH's homeless shelter.
"I was scared, nervous, frightened, and didn't know where my last meal would come from. I'm now successfully working for Intuit, a software computer company in Reno. I've been there five years. I also have a brand-new car."
Like Corder, Sorensen serves on Foremaster's Gold Star Committee Board of Directors. They are a group of Foremaster's success stories who've returned to help.
Carson City Supervisor Pete Livermore attended the grand opening.
"I want to see it work out," he said. "I want to see it sustained. That's important, that it be sustained. I'm overwhelmed at the people here."
The final push of funding for the center came from a $15,000 grant from Todd Butterworth, bureau chief of the State of Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Disability Services.
"Honestly, to see the great work Dee Dee has done over the years on a shoestring budget, this ($15,000) will go a long way," he said.
"She supports the independent living philosophy. People with disabilities ought to have choices on where and how they live. This (center) is a good start. It's cool."
Andrea Johnson, 29, had an allergic reaction to the measles/mumps/rubella vaccination when she was 2. She is physically disabled. Foremaster is helping her to gain independence so she can move out from her mother's home.
"Dee Dee has given me hope for the future," Johnson said. "She is showing me obstacles can be overcome. She has opened her heart and helped people. I am helping her by volunteering."
Jerry Mortenson, 43, also received help from Foremaster. After an accident in 1982 that caused permanent brain damage, Mortenson is also volunteering, but said the State of Nevada could be doing more to help disabled people.
"Dee Dee was the only resource I had for a job," Mortenson said. "Carson City needs a program to help disabled blend back in (to society). With the right program, people can go back to work.
"It's very frustrating. But I let the Lord take care of it, and me. As the capital city, we should be the forefront and an example for successful programs. Somebody needs to take notice."
Foremaster will hold volunteer training at 4 p.m. Sept. 8 for anyone who can help couple hours a day or week. For information, call Foremaster at 841-2580.
n Contact Rhonda Costa-Landers at email@example.com or 881-1223.
Do Drop In
WHERE: 411 Hot Springs Road, No. 4
WHEN: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays
ALSO, Volunteer training
WHEN: 4 p.m. Sept. 8
WHERE: 411 Hot Springs Road, No. 4
WISH LIST: End tables, bookshelf, coffee tables, games, waste baskets, postage stamps, broom and dustpan, reading lamps, socks and a better computer.
MAIL DONATIONS TO: Rural Center for Independent Living, P.O. Box 3177, Carson City, 89702