By Chris Faulkner
Denise Hanks has a heart for seniors.
So she formed a non-profit with the intent of raising an initial $2.5 million to open Heart Song Day Center at 2610 S. Fifth St., the site of the former Burlington Care Center between Crapo and Dankwardt Parks.
She formed a board of directors in 2019, the board bought the building, and they’ve begun a capital campaign to raise money for the center.
“Adult day services will be part of Phase 1,” Hanks said. “That is our priority right now is to get the adult day center up and running.
“The Day Center is a place that people can go that are no longer able to live home alone, or no longer to be alone,” Hanks said. “Now they need a caregiver.”
The center will give seniors “the opportunity to have a program that gives them dignity and a purpose in an interactive environment,” she said.
She said it will be open Monday through Friday, except holidays, from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Hanks is a speech pathologist who works for several agencies. Four years ago she switched to part-time to devote more time to her project.
“It really began when I was working on the rehab unit at the hospital, and we were trying to find services for people so that they could be discharged home,” Hanks said.
“A group of therapists and physicians thought it would be a good idea to have a daycare center for people to go to.”
Hanks toured several facilities in Iowa to see what they were doing.
“My mother, Joyce Brockway, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s dementia, and I saw the burden that it placed on my father (Terry), to take care of her,” Hanks said.
“I began researching what it would take to open an adult day center. I contacted the state of Iowa for the rules and regulations. I contacted several non-profit organizations to see if opening (one) would fit into their programming, and none of them could take it under their wing.”
That’s when she started her own non-profit. Attorney Marlis Robberts was put on the board of directors, and she’s the legal advisor.
COVID shut down the presentations, and now she’s resuming her efforts.
“We have to do modifications, and we’ve got to spruce it up,” Hanks said of the former care center.
“We’re going to redo the front of it, the community room (and have) all new flooring. The walls will be redone, and the ceiling will be redone. It needs a new roof, and it needs new windows over 75 percent of the building,” she said.
“The city has verbally stated they will work with us to get bus services there,” said Hanks, or maybe the SEIBUS bus.
Hanks wants the center to be a place for community events as well.
Soon after Phase 1 is completed, she’ll start on Phase 2. “We want to be a one-stop shop for seniors and have resources available for them,” Hanks said. “Also we want a cafe that will be open to the public, a small indoor space, and a large outdoor space.”
She’s hoping to get Milestones Area Agency on Aging at the building as well as have a food pantry.
“Another wing of the building could be used as a therapy clinic,” Hanks said.
She also wants to provide training and support to the caregivers. “We can help train the caregivers and educate them so they can better care for their loved one,” Hanks said.
For more information about the project and how to donate, contact Hanks at 319-214-0509 or email the organization at firstname.lastname@example.org. The website is www.heartsongiowa.org.