Companion Day Services Continues Ten-Year Mission as Adult Respite Center

Adult Day Service Provides Meaningful Activities and Support

In Marshfield, there is a place adults of all ages gather to forge bonds and find meaning.

Companion Day Services is an adult day service respite center designed to help adults who are recovering from illnesses and injuries, who have disabilities, or are living alone. Each person gets custom care depending on their needs. The program allows adults in these situations to get out and socialize, do meaningful and fun activities, improve health, and maintain a level of independence in a caring environment.

Those interested in becoming part of the center are encouraged to make an appointment to check out the facilities.

“I always recommend coming in and taking a tour,” said Director Shannon Soyk. “A lot of times people are hesitant to come in, but then their loved one’s here for a while and then they’re asking, ‘when can we come back?’”

The needs of the potential resident are discussed and a schedule is put into place, whether it be an hour, day, or week of participation. There is an hourly fee, but the center works with participants who cannot pay with the help of outside funding like grants.

“We’re here for respite, for anybody who needs to get out and about,” said Soyk. The center also serves breakfast, lunch, and a snack, and can help with medication.

Companion Day Services sees about 10-15 participants per day. Currently, the range in age is from 22 to 95 years old. Open 7:30-5:30 p.m., the center employs three full-time and two casual staff, many of which have been with the center since practically the beginning.

Each day is different, and there’s never a dull moment, said Soyk. They plan fun activities like a recent Packers party, for which they made party favors, nachos with cheese, a Packers cake, put up decorations, and played games and trivia. They also do activities outside and in the garden. Although it’s a social atmosphere, residents can have a quiet moment at the library down the hall.

As a self-described people person, Soyk’s favorite part of the job is working with the clients, joking with them and having fun. She also enjoys working with their families.

“All the families are wonderful that we work with,” she said. “They’re very involved with their loved ones care, too.”

Located in the Tiny Tigers Intergenerational Center, Companion Day Services shares a roof with a daycare and works with them to bridge the gap between generations. The kids are an important part of the intergenerational program.

“Every day a different age group come in and work with their ‘grand-friends,’” said Soyk. “Sometimes they’ll read a story to them or have a snack with them.”

The presence of kids has been a positive relationship for the center, especially for residents who don’t get to see kids very often.

“Just seeing that spark in their eye and that smile, It’s really rewarding,” Soyk said, adding that the kids aren’t phased by walkers or wheelchairs. “It’s really neat to see the interactions, the younger ones working with the older ones.”

As a nonprofit, Companion Day accepts donations and does fundraising to keep things affordable for its participants, like an annual brat fry at Festival Foods, shirt sales, and by selling baked goods made by the “grand-friends” for the holidays.

Volunteers are always welcome and are encouraged to contact Soyk. Duties may include interacting with the participants one-on-one, reading for them, prepping for crafts, helping with games, and working in the kitchen.

The idea for such an intergenerational building evolved over ten years ago when students of the Human Services Academy course at the high school discussed with a retired teacher the need for hands-on experience of working with people. Companion Day Services celebrated its ten year anniversary last March.

Resident Alayne Reineke has been at Companion Day since the day it began. “I was confined to a wheelchair and sitting at home doing nothing, and my husband said ‘you have got to have a life,’” she said of her situation at the time. He heard about the new center and they decided to see what it offered.

She has overcome health problems both before and after arriving at the center. Diagnosed with Stage IV cancer in all of her organs, she was put on life support.

“They told me I’d probably never walk again,” she said. “Well, I fooled them.”

Reineke regained use of her hands and remained dedicated to regaining her mobility and now uses a walker, also recovering from breaking her hip last year. As a longtime resident visiting two days a week, she is allowed to visit the nursery and feed the babies there, and has watched them grow up through the program. Sometimes the kids will visit her, calling her Grandma Alayne.

Recalling a decade at the center, Reineke’s memories are positive. “It was fun visiting and just meeting new people—games, crafts, just being around other people,” she said. “I have seen many people come and go.”

The center helps give people a sense of purpose in the everyday. “They’re all here for the same reason, to get a life,” Reineke added. “I would recommend it to anybody. It’s always nice to see new people.” Those she gets to know better knows that she likes to tease.

“They’re all very used to me,” she said.