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Thu, Nov. 14

Margaret T. Morris to celebrate 20th anniversary

Pink Flowers. (Cathie Englekirk/Courtesy)

Pink Flowers. (Cathie Englekirk/Courtesy)

The Margaret T. Morris Center on Sunset Avenue in Prescott will celebrate 20th anniversary as a family-style assisted living facility catering to seniors with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia disorders.

The anniversary party to be hosted in the center’s “spectacular garden” is scheduled from 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 26.

The Bob and Dudie Kieckhefer Therapeutic Gardens are the only type of its kind in Arizona, designed specifically for people suffering with memory loss.

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Koi Pond lily pad. (Cathie Englekirk/Courtesy)

Invited guests from the community and families of patients are welcome to attend the no-cost reception, although reservations are requested. Guests will be treated to live jazz music performed by Jeff Weasel’s quartet as part of the wine and hors d’oeuvres reception.

The wife of a patient, Cathie Englekirk, painted images she photographed in the gardens that she then crafted into notecards for sale at the event – eight for $12. Proceeds will benefit the center.

Englekirk said her artwork was inspired by her journey with husband, Allan, and his dementia diagnosis.

“I believe that even amidst the ugliness of watching my dear Allan’s dementia rob him of his zest for life, we should not overlook the glory nature has provided us here in this setting,” Englekirk said in the biography that accompanies her commemorative card sets.

Executive Director Yvonne Napolitano said she is proud to share with the community and families this milestone for the only free-standing, independent nonprofit organization in northern Arizona to specialize in care for those suffering with dementia issues. The center is licensed for up to 57 patients with a fluctuating census of residents, most of whom are in their mid-80s. She said they do have one patient who has lived at the center for a decade.

The center was envisioned after the death of Margaret T. Morris, a wealthy rancher in Williamson Valley who left resources that were used to create a namesake foundation that provided a generous donation to build this specialized center for aging adults, Napolitano said.

At the time the center opened, Napolitano said, there were 13 organizations of their type across the state. That number has dwindled to two, she said.

Napolitano said the center operates under the auspices of Adult Care Services, which owns and operates the Susan J. Rheem Adult Day Care service in Prescott Valley. It is a congregate, home-style environment unlike some places where people live in single apartments or rooms. Social engagement is a highlight of the center’s programs with patients able to participate in horticulture programs, music therapy, and art classes and attend field trips into the community. The center boasts a 60-member staff, 60 percent of whom have been with the center for three years or more.

Napolitano’s 82-year-old mother, Amalia Lapinski, has worked at the center for 17 years. She just opted to become an on-call receptionist.

“We are a very loving community, both in respect for the people we care for and with their families,” said Napolitano who started with the company two decades ago as a director of therapeutic recreation. She has been in her current position – she also is the executive for the Susan J. Rheem Day Care facility – for the past nine years. To be at the center is “like being with family,” she said.

Anyone wishing to attend the anniversary celebration is welcome. Call 928-441-1019 for reservations.

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