The Tamaqua Area Adult Day Care Center will be losing a familiar face as Director Deb Shipe has decided to retire after 18 years of service but the program that Shipe helped to build will continue to serve the older adults in the community.
Members of the board of directors recently held a retirement party to honor Shipe and the contributions that she has made over the last two decades.
"We really had a tough time when we started," said Suzanne Shapcott, who has been a directors at the facility since 1989, when the group first started working toward its creation. "This area needed a facility like this then and it still does."
Shapcott remembered Shipe's interview for the position.
"It is really hard to see her retire," she added. "She has been a superb director. She really helped organize it all right from the start."
At the time it opened, Shipe said there were only two other facilities like it in the county – one in Orwigsburg and one in Pottsville.
"This side of the county needed one, too," she said.
Today, the Center serves adults five days a week, from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., with the exception of major holidays.
Shipe was there when the doors opened in April, 1991.
"I think we've served about 400 people since then," she said. Coming from a position as a personal care home director, Shipe was a natural fit for the director's job.
"This is really about keeping the elderly in their homes, without having the put them in a nursing home. Here they can be safe during the day. They are fed. We make sure they get their medications," she said.
Shipe and her staff, which includes an office manager, several activity coordinators, assistants, and an LPN, also coordinate mind stimulating activities, indoor games like horseshoes, and outings into the community. The center also opens its doors to local school groups, including the St. Jerome's kindergarten class.
"It's a wonderful intergenerational program," said Shipe. "Both the children and the adults really enjoy each other."
Shipe has been inspired by the continued support she has seen from the community.
"We are helped by funding through County programs," she said, "but all we ever see are cuts. We have one large fundraiser, the 5K run, every year, and we do other fundraisers to keep us going. We have not had to close our doors, despite the cuts."
Shipe also pointed out various donations from individuals and community organizations that have helped the center – which is located in the basement of the Calgary Episcopal Church – grow and expand.
"We were just able to add office spaces this year, thanks to a donation," she said.
The center will now be under the direction of Phil Koles, who has worked with the center and Shipe as the activities director.
"It's been a very smooth transition. Deb and I worked well together," said Koles.
Both Koles and Shipe express hope that the center will continue to thrive and expand.
"What they do here is so important to the elderly," said Shipe. "It helps keep their senses up."
Meanwhile, Shipe plans to enjoy her retirement and focus on her own health and hobbies.
"My husband and I live in Danville. There is a lot of scenery there to take in," she said.