(Article published in the Charleston Gazette Daily Mail on Saturday, March 3, 2012)
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- More than 48,000 West Virginians have Alzheimer's disease and, as that number continues to grow, so does the Alzheimer's Association's state headquarters.The West Virginia chapter of the Alzheimer's Association is moving its headquarters from its current 1111 Lee St. location to Charleston's West Side.
The move will more than double the available square footage -- from a 1,750-square-foot house to a 4,500-square-foot building. The group will move in to 1601 Second Ave., near the Patrick Street Plaza, by mid-April.
"It's a really exciting opportunity for us, because we've been on the hunt for some space for six months or so. We were able to find some fantastic space," said Laurel Kirksey, director of constituent relations for the West Virginia chapter. "It's really convenient being downtown, but the benefits of having double the space out-weighs being downtown."
More space means that more community workshops and educational programs can be offered, she said.
A highlight of the association's move, Kirksey said, is the 40- by 28-foot education and training center. More than 3,000 family and professional caregivers are trained each year at the Charleston headquarters. Since the current location is too small, the training programs are hosted at churches and community centers. Now the group can offer the workshops for up to 60 people at its office.
"We love our support groups throughout the state that host our events," Kirksey said, "but it's also great to be able to have resources right here."
The number of people who participate in support groups -- those who have Alzheimer's and their caregivers -- will increase, as well, she said.
Mismatched chairs surround two long tables in the middle of what is currently the nonprofit's support-group room. Only six family members can sit in the room at one time.
The group's new headquarters will have a larger support-group room -- up to 20 people can fit -- that will double as a private meeting space for family care consultations.
The new room will have comfortable sofas and chairs to re-create a homey-type atmosphere, said Jane Marks, executive director of the West Virginia chapter.
Two groups meet at the headquarters monthly -- a spouses support group and an early-stage support group. About 15 people participate in the spouses support group -- a number that will increase, Kirksey said.
The support-group room isn't the only expansion for the organization.