RIVER CLUB — Maribeth Phillips and Kristen Theisen stand in front of a reception desk at what used to be Little Footsteps daycare and have a vision.
Down the hallway are a series of classrooms, each with sinks, and a large open room that will be ideal for large gatherings.
“This is just perfect,” said Phillips, the chief executive officer of Meals on Wheels PLUS, a nonprofit dedicated to helping seniors live independently and providing nutrition and care support services. “It already has a craft room.”
The women hope the space soon can become the organization’s new Daybreak Adult Day Center, Manatee County’s only adult daycare center.
The nonprofit has a contract on the property at 10920 State Road 70 E., with a closing date set for sometime in October. But, the deal is not yet final.
The organization has requested funding of $50,000 annually for 10 years from Manatee County.
Daybreak’s current operating budget is about $527,000 annually. The money from the county will cover the bulk of an estimated increase of $70,000 annually in operating expenses, including the mortgage.
“We have our fingers crossed. We have our toes crossed,” Phillips said of securing funding. “We are optimistic.”
Manatee County commissioners set millage rates and approved a tentative budget that includes the funding July 31, but will finalize funding of the project when it adopts its budget in September.
Meals on Wheels PLUS, which operates The Food Bank of Manatee, among other programs, currently operates the Daybreak program rent-free out of a facility owned by Manatee Glens. The building is deteriorating and is not ideal, in terms of layout or location, for adult daycare services.
At its current location, Daybreak is licensed to serve 100 clients daily. As part of the ongoing due diligence process, the licensing agency, the Agency for Health Care Administration, will review the Little Footsteps location in the coming months.
With close to 1,000 square feet more space (roughly, 6,700 square feet in total), Phillips hopes the AHCA will license the new space for even more clients.
Meals on Wheels PLUS transports about 60% of clients to the Daybreak facility, so moving farther east and closer to the Interstate 75 corridor should improve accessibility, Phillips said.
“This is such good timing with what’s happing around us,” Phillips said, noting age-targeted senior communities, such as Del Webb, and assisted-living facilities are being constructed in Lakewood Ranch.
Theisen, chief development officer for Meals on Wheels PLUS added: “There’s really nothing in this area. There are so many other programs for seniors established in west Bradenton.”
Phillips said one day, if negotiations for the property come through, the former Little Footsteps facility may offer congregate dining, as well as a drop-off point for volunteers who deliver meals to homebound seniors for the Meals on Wheels program.
“We want to focus on the adult daycare,” Phillips said. “These are all possibilities.”
Theisen adds: “It’s just so exciting.”
Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected].