Beginning this summer, participants at Snellville’s SarahCare, adult day care center will be experiencing activities under new leadership. This new leadership will continue to provide the same loving care the participants are accustomed to, but it will be offered by current employees who have been promoted to new positions within the organization.
Aysha Cooper, the owner and executive director of SarahCare is relinquishing her duties to two of her most trusted and deserving employees, Tato Gayflorsee is the new Executive Director, and Michelle Johnson is the new Program Director. Cooper will still own the facility, but she will not be manning the fort as she has done since she opened SarahCare in January 2010. Cooper says she opened the center because of her love for seniors. Although she felt led by God to open this center, it has not come without its share of challenges. It is because of her perseverance that the center has been so successful that it doubled in size by 2015. However, you won’t find Cooper on the beach working on her tan and sipping Bahama Mama’s after she steps down because she plans to spend her time focusing on rebranding and expanding the vision for her facility.
Initially, Cooper’s goal with opening SarahCare was to provide a service to the community, but now it has evolved. SarahCare is a home away from home for many of the participants who look forward to coming to the center Monday through Friday to socialize with other seniors. “We are an extension of the family,” said Cooper.
According to Gayflorsee, the reasons for SarahCare’s success are multi-faceted. “It involves staying ahead of the curve, thinking outside of the box, and just being creative. We have built a lifestyle around seniors that encompasses the whole person: mind, body, and soul. We address all three here by offering education for the mind, and Tuesday and Friday a juice bar for the body and Meditation for the soul,” he adds.
Johnson had previous experience as a Medical Assistant and taking care of her ailing mother when she applied with SarahCare in 2016. Within that short time span, Johnson’s “energizer bunny” persona and her ability to always bring something to the table influenced Cooper to promote her as the new Program Director.
One of her goals in her new position is to connect the seniors more with the community both inside and outside of the center. She also wants to include more programs that are specific to men since the center has seen an influx of male participants who come from the Veteran’s Administration. “It’s very exciting,” said Johnson.
“The vision, foundation, and expectation for SarahCare have already been established. We have to continue to be innovative,” says Gayflorsee who is studying the effects of dementia and PTSD in his doctoral program. “It is important that we help them [seniors] use it or they will lose it.”
Cooper says part of the appeal of adult day care is they are a little bit less than home care, and a lot less than assisted living. Advocacy, awareness are also key parts to SarahCare’s success.
For three years Cooper had been planning to vacate her executive director position when Gayflorsee was her last applicant for another position she felt certain she had already found the ideal person to fulfill. It was during their two-hour meeting that he “knocked her socks off.”
People report feeling more satisfied and enjoying the environment here says Gayflorsee. “Michelle comes in and turns on the music, and everybody gets up,” he adds.
Apparently, the seniors truly enjoy their time at SarahCare because Gayflorsee said it is not uncommon for them to show up when the center is closed, and they call on Sundays and leave a voicemail message to make sure the center is not open, and they are not missing out.