While Gari Cave served as San Luis Obispo County’s ombudsman, she and her board chairman, Ann Keyes, discovered their life mission. The county lacked a secured assisted-living home to care for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. So they left their positions, mortgaged their homes and raided their savings to create and remodel a former dental office on Main Street in Morro Bay to accommodate 15 residents. They applied for nonprofit status and opened Garden House 13 years ago. Then, a tragic car accident took Keyes. Cave continued their dream.
“Our goal was to provide a secured, homelike atmosphere for our residents,” Cave said. “I’ve assembled a wonderful staff that provides 24-hour care at a 4-to-1 ratio. As ombudsman, I saw facilities prepared for inspections with appropriate nutrition in their pantries, but serving Top Ramen three times daily. We serve excellent meals and provide music, art, stretching and pet therapy several days a month. We encourage family visits. Cal Poly nutrition and kinesiology students visit and help our caregivers while learning firsthand about our residents. When we have room, we offer free respite care for home caregivers to bring Mom or Dad to Garden House for up to a week so they can get away and refresh.”
As a nonprofit, Garden House provides residency based on market value or whatever a resident might afford. Creative fundraising to pay the bills is mandatory to survive.
“Monthly, we’ll subsidize costs by $10,000 to $12,000,” Cave admitted. “Families have bequeathed donations in thanks for our care. Kasey Watson is a certified art therapist. We developed an annual calendar from the art and sell reproductions of the art courtesy of our families. And three years ago, Morro Bay’s Andrea Klipfel suggested a Bunco party to help fund specific needs. The first year, we needed to fund a new roof. The second year, we needed to pay off the roof renovation and this year we need to build the fund for residents who can’t afford the full price of Garden House.”
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Bunco Bonanza is April 27 at the Lodge on Highway 41. Doors open at 4:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 for Bunco, and barbecue chicken and tri-tip will be donated by the Bay-Osos Kiwanis. Central Coast Quota and Sigma Kappa Sorority provide dessert and support. Mariposa Music Therapy will perform.
Watson has assumed an added role as administrator for Garden House as Cave transitions to retirement. Carolyn Goosens and Julie Orr diligently gathered silent and live auction items, including gourmet dinners, a Tolosa Wine tour, a Baywood Inn stay, a Harbor Tour by the Harbor Master and lots more.
Attendance support is needed for a worthy cause. Call Garden House, 772-7181, for tickets.