OPINION: The founder for adult day health care in Stanly County

As a former member of the Board of Stanly Adult Care Center (SACC) and its predecessor, the Coltrane L.I.F.E. Center Adult Daycare Committee, I wish to thank you for your article published in the SNAP.

Father Jim Bernacki

Your article highlighted Sandy Carelock’s speech at SACC’s kickoff dinner last September at Tillery Tradition.

I would like to add to what Carelock mentioned in her wonderful address.

The late Johnsie Barringer, assisted by her parish, Main Street United Methodist Church in Albemarle, spearheaded the effort to get an adult day care facility in Stanly County. Johnsie got the idea from the Coltrane L.I.F.E. Center in Concord, the place where her late husband Wayne was a participant.

Noting the growing number of Stanly residents over 65 years old, especially those with physical or mental disabilities, Johnsie formed and chaired a committee of Stanly County residents in 2007. This group, unofficially called the Stanly County ADC (Adult Daycare Committee), was charged with finding a site for a future adult day healthcare center in our area — similar to the facility in which her husband was a participant.

While serving as rector of Christ Episcopal Church in Albemarle, I accepted my good friend Lori Kirkingburg’s invitation to serve on the ADC with Johnsie and her fellow members.

While a member of Coltrane L.I.F.E. Center’s Board of Directors, I served as chair of its Long-Range Planning Committee. This board “adopted” our Stanly ADC, which then became Coltrane’s Long-Range Planning Committee.

Susan Caudle, executive director of the Coltrane L.I.F.E. Center, joined our group as vice chair, with the following other officers: Johnsie as treasurer, Lori as secretary and myself as chair.

Among the continuing members were Sylvia Lewis (currently on Coltrane’s Board of Directors), Becky Weemhoff (then executive director of the Stanly County Senior Center), Debbie Bennett with the Stanly County Health Department, Don Abernathy and Floyd Eudy, to name a few.

Caudle, herself a resident of Stanly, proved helpful to us, due to her years of experience with adult day healthcare facilities, including a former site in the basement of Stanly Manor.

Over the years, this group explored a number of buildings and properties in Stanly, including a former bank building owned by the Stanly YMCA. Unfortunately, none of these possibilities came to fruition.

Sadly, our leader and mentor, Johnsie, passed away in May 2018, but our committee wished to carry out her legacy to serve residents with physical or mental disabilities.

Although I retired later that year as rector of Christ Church, Albemarle, I remained on the committee as a member through December of last year. Fellow member Sandy Carelock, who had succeeded Lori Kirkingburg as secretary, became the new chair of the committee, and Sylvia Lewis was elected secretary.

During the Covid pandemic, Sandy was invited to serve as an intern for Susan Caudle at Coltrane L.I.F.E. Center. A while after Sandy’s work began, Coltrane’s Board felt that it would be beneficial for both groups to be separate, seeing that an independent Stanly County Board would be able to raise more funds for a new facility within Stanly County.

As Sandy mentioned in her speech, this committee became SACC in November 2021, and is now a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. She now serves as the executive director of the SACC, while Emma Morris is the new president of SACC’s Board, assisted by Becky Weemhoff as vice president.

I wish to thank everyone who assisted us in any way these past few years, by donations and other means of encouragement. I remember with gratitude the late Johnsie Barringer, our founder and first chairperson, for her vision of bringing adult day healthcare to Stanly County. Also, I express my thanks to Susan Caudle for her leadership, perseverance and encouragement, while serving on our former committee. The Coltrane L.I.F.E. Center’s Board of Directors were instrumental in allowing us to serve as their long-range planning committee, and for offering their support while we were part of their organization.

I also wish to send our appreciation to the late Kevin Carle, who after a conversation with me, offered the possibility of our purchasing his former child daycare center on Anderson Church Road as our new site.

So, our God is good — helping us in many ways to achieve our dream of a new adult day healthcare center in Stanly County.
Although I now live in Cabarrus County and am no longer a member of SACC’s Board, I pray that the people of Stanly County and surrounding areas will continue to support SACC and “make it happen” soon.

Jim Bernacki, formerly of Albemarle, is now priest associate of All Saints Episcopal Church in Concord.