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SHERIDAN — Laughter Club, Harmonica by Bob, brain games and much more are on the calendar. But the heart of the day is not just about the fun, it’s about being together… and thriving. Three months after moving into a new location, the Senior Center’s Day Break program is sparkling with activity. Positive energy in Day Break is evident from the moment one walks through its doors.
“We have about 20 people every day,” said Barb Blue, Day Break director. “It has such a homey feel. You walk through the doors and the fire’s going. It’s really, really nice.”
The adult day program has blossomed since it opened its doors to the community with three clients and the knowledge that families would benefit from its services. Today, Day Break serves 34 individuals providing them with connections and their families with support. There are only three other communities — Evanston, Lyman and Thayne — in Wyoming that offer a day program for adults, making Sheridan and those communities unique in what they offer to seniors who do not need the 24-hour care of a traditional nursing facility.
Day Break and kindred programs in the state are social model programs for adult care; socialization is at the heart of the program.
“We look for things people are interested in,” Blue said. Then an individualized plan of care is designed, incorporating that person’s interests.
“Look at Tom over there,” said Blue referring to a man in a recliner. “He’s sitting there, reading a magazine; it’s like he’s at home.” Others play games and, at the moment, some men are playing pool in the game room.
In 1990, Day Break opened a new program at the Sheridan Senior Center. Twelve years later, new space was added in response to demand. In October 2016, Day Break moved into its own building next door to the Senior Center, the result of a successful capital campaign led by community volunteers. The new facility features a game room, great room, kitchen, bathing facilities, quiet room, beauty station and private garden.
But it’s not just the physical building and program that have grown. People who come to Day Break experience their personal growth, new friendships and discovery.
“There’s one individual who was very nonverbal when she started,” said Vanessa Thiele, Day Break aide. “But I noticed that she would move a lot so one day I started to dance with her. Then one day, she was singing all the lyrics to the Bobby Vee song ‘Love You More Than I Can Say.’”
The next day, Thiele pulled up Bobby Vee songs on the large screen in Day Break’s great room. The lady sang the words to all the songs.
“Her changes were very rapid and very positive,” said Thiele. It wasn’t long before the new client would sit next to someone and talk.
“She now tells me stories about her family, her hobbies, and her husband,” Thiele said. “It’s been really awesome to see.”
There are other such inspiring stories from those who come to Day Break.
“Sam came here as a client but is now a volunteer,” said Blue of another client. “He was recovering from brain surgery but got well enough and is now going back to college.” Sam and another client, Michael, are two exceptions to the age group who typically come to Day Break: the men are 26 and 35 years old, respectively.
Janice Twibell’s mother, Beulah Zager, has been coming to Day Break for four years, and Twibell has been a witness to changes at Day Break during that time.
“My mom is 96,” said Twibell. “Day Break has made all the difference in the world in her life. She laughs, she giggles and she wants to participate in everything. It has given her a reason to live and I believe it has extended her life because she has something to look forward to.”
It is evident that Beulah is not the only one who looks forward to their time in Day Break.