CREST inviting public in

MAKING A MOVE — CREST associate director Karen Koeder stands inside the entity’s spacious new offices at 820 Winnebago Ave. in Fairmont.

FAIRMONT — The caregiver organization CREST, of Fairmont, is celebrating its new location at 820 Winnebago Ave., and has invited the public to an open house Thursday.

Since 1997, CREST — Caregiver Response Effort and Service Team — has sought to provide assistance to people by volunteering to help with physical, social or spiritual needs, as well as educate and inform about real-life situations — without taking away an individual’s and family’s independence, dignity or quality of life. For several years, the organization had a home at Lakeview United Methodist Healthcare Services in Fairmont. But due to remodeling and expansion changes, CREST used the opportunity to find offices to call its own.

“We newly moved in here this fall,” said associate director Karen Koeder. “We were housed at Lakeview for 15 or so years, and with their expansion, they ran out of room. But it’s given us an opportunity to be on our own, which is an awesome feeling.”

Koeder said the move was not planned prior to Lakeview’s expansion efforts.

“We were quite happy at Lakeview, but the space we had for us was just too small,” she noted. “But we were looking for something that would easily accessible, and this is handicap-accessible. There’s visitor parking right next to the building and we provide services to our aging population and caregivers who need to be able to get in easily, so this is awesome.”

“It’s bright and cheery, and we are thoroughly enjoying it,” she continued. “We’re also having more of our CREST participants come through the door. When we were at Lakeview, people had trouble finding us, but now they are finding us. We’re close to the Interstate and because we serve all of Martin County, people coming from Trimont, Sherburn, Welcome, Truman, etc., can find us easily.”

Koeder shared some of the group’s accomplishments over the past year. In particular, she noted that training programs have been well received, and there has been growth in support groups.

“We now have five caregiver support groups; we added one in Trimont and one in Truman,” she said, noting that previously there were three in Fairmont. “We also started a new Lunch and Learn program in Sherburn; Joyce [Peterson] is the leader of that group and does the cooking. They have a topic every month. This month is on hospice, and they had someone from the apple orchards come, and someone from a pharmacy come, and we provide lunch.”

Koeder noted that when the Lunch and Learn began, there were two months when no one came. Now there is a regular attendance of about 20-plus who come from different communities.

“We’ve also expanded our consulting for Alzheimer’s and dementia,” Koeder said. “We’ve become involved in a program called Dementia Friends and that’s to help people in the general public understand dementia better, and how to relate to persons with dementia. Sometimes people just don’t know what to say or how to react when someone doesn’t answer a question rapidly.”

Other programs provided by CREST include Matter of Balance training and Powerful Tools for Caregivers training, both of which have gotten up and running in the past year.

“As we age, our balance becomes a little bit suspect, and there is some exercise embedded in this training,” Koeder said. “But it also talks about not letting a balance problem make you stay at home, but looks at finding creative solutions.”

“The Powerful Tools for Caregivers is for those who are caregivers 24/7,” she continued. “It’s really geared to how they can take better care of themselves, because most of their day is spent taking care of someone else. So this is about their health and well being, how to set goals and find time to do what they enjoy.”

The open house celebration will be held from 3-6 p.m. at the new offices at 820 Winnebago Ave., Suite 2, in Fairmont. There will be cookies, coffee, hot apple cider and water. CREST staff members and board of directors will be on hand to talk about the ministry of CREST and what is ahead for 2018.