By Ed Brock
Gloria Hardiman can have a life now, thanks to Clayton County Alzheimer's Support Services, otherwise known as CLASS.
Hardiman's 88-year-old mother Eda Barber was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 1987 and in 1997 she moved from Chicago to the Atlanta area to join her daughter.
"She was in another facility prior to going to CLASS," said Hardiman who lives in Fayetteville. "I decided I wanted something different and CLASS fit the bill."
CLASS operates out of a facility at 1800 Slate Road in Conley and offers its 24 current clients adult daycare services and "respite" services (overnight stays for a weekend.)
"I don't worry about mother at all," Hardiman said. "When I drove by this building (CLASS) that looks like an old Victorian mansion I knew it was the place."
The facility was built in 1966 by the Order of the Eastern Star and used as a personal care home, CLASS Executive Director Janice Coye said. Now CLASS is trying to raise the remaining half of about $800,000 they need for renovations on the building.
"It's a solid building but it's pretty old," Coye said. "We're trying to build a new wing where we can have a big common room that would accommodate all of our clients at once for activities."
Also, the building only has room for eight clients to stay in respite, and Coye said they want to expand that service as well as updating the kitchen.
Alzheimer's is a disease that gradually destroys brain cells and leads to "problems with reasoning or judgment, disorientation, difficulty in learning, loss of language skills, and decline in the ability to perform routine tasks," according to the Alzheimer's Association Web site. It is named after Dr. Alois Alzheimer who defined the disease in 1906.
About 4.5 million people in the U.S. have Alzheimer's. Coye said she didn't know how many people in Clayton County suffer from the disease.
On Saturday the Clayton County Building and Maintenance Department sponsored a fund raising event at The Beach in Jonesboro that included a silent auction and a motorcycle, truck and car show.
"The poker run got washed out because of the rain," said Donnie Hood, the event's coordinator.
A poker run is a fundraising event in which motorcyclists drive to various locations to collect cards for their poker hand. They pay for each hand and the highest hand wins a prize.
There were numerous corporate sponsors for the event that raised $8,000 in advance. Hood said on Saturday that he would not have the total raised during the event until after the publication of this article, but he said 100 percent of the money would go to CLASS.
"We'll be presenting Janice with a check as soon as we get things totaled," Hood said.
CLASS will hold another fundraiser, a corporate breakfast, in November at the center, Coye said.
"We usually invite the (Clayton County) Commissioners to come and cook the breakfast," Coye said.
The center sells tickets to the breakfast but "most people donate above and beyond the ticket price," Coye said.
Further donations can be sent to the Clayton County Alzheimer's Building Fund at any Wachovia Bank location. Call (770) 603-4090 for further information.