This month, C.A.R.E.S. received the donation of a facility that encompasses more than 70,000 square feet on five acres in north Lafayette. "We went from being thrown out on the street to being handed this huge donation," says C.A.R.E.S. Director Claude Martin. "The irony of what we went through in one year's time is mind boggling."
Lafayette Guest House, formerly a 206-bed nursing facility with an adjacent inpatient psychiatric hospital, Oceans Behavior Healthcare, was given to C.A.R.E.S. by Jerrine Harrell of Alexandria, Donna McPherson (wife of Sen. Joe McPherson, D-Woodworth), and Lafayette resident John Wright. The trio own numerous nursing homes across the state, each registered as different LLCs and managed by Central Control Inc. The corporation also owns Magnolia Estates on Dulles Drive, and recently opened Camelot of Broussard, a new $17 million multi-faceted geriatric care and nursing facility. The clients of Lafayette Guest House moved to Camelot in September 2006, leaving the nursing home on Martin Luther King Drive vacant.
"We could have sold it," Wright says. The empty facility is in the process of being appraised ' and will be valued in the neighborhood of $3.5 million, according to Wright. The decision to make the donation is a combination of good business ' being able to claim a charitable donation on taxes, and doing something positive for the community. "We asked ourselves what is the highest and best use of this facility," Wright says. "And we thought it might work as a shelter."
Wright called his niece, Kimberly James, executive director of Lafayette Catholic Service Centers. Catholic Services runs St. Joseph's Diner, St. Joseph's Shelter for Men, and the New Life Center in Opelousas, among other services which provide emergency assistance with rent, utilities, food, clothing, medicine, shelter, furnishings, medical and dental care. James had just started construction on a shelter at 427 St. John St. to house homeless veterans and didn't feel that her organization could undertake the renovations necessary on the huge nursing home. "It was too much for us," James says. "We felt that C.A.R.E.S. was the best fit. I think very highly of Claude."
Says Wright, "Kimberly hooked me up with Claude. We thought Acadiana C.A.R.E.S. was a worthwhile organization that had a great need, and we had a way to resolve it." By making the donation to C.A.R.E.S., Wright says "we could be assured that what happened last year would never happen again."
Lafayette Guest House and Oceans Behavior Healthcare were located in separate buildings on the same campus. When CCI signed over the building, they also donated Ocean's remaining two-and-a-half year lease to C.A.R.E.S., with the intention that the income could help with renovations and maintenance. Oceans subsequently moved out, leaving their building vacant. Oceans is debating whether to buy out their lease or find a sublessor to occupy the building for the remaining term of their lease. Either action gives C.A.R.E.S. working income.
In C.A.R.E.S' first phase of its expansion, it will relocate its residential programs for HIV/AIDS victims and disabled individuals to the site. Thirty of the nursing home rooms will be renovated into 15 apartments, each with a bedroom, bath, kitchenette, living and dining area. This will triple C.A.R.E.S.' permanent residential capacity and allow all its clients to live in one facility. Following in January 2008, C.A.R.E.S. will relocate its counseling offices, food bank, community meeting spaces and administrative offices. C.A.R.E.S. will vacate its downtown location by March 2008.
Martin envisions a facility that goes beyond the mission of C.A.R.E.S. To that end, he has assembled a task force made up of members of the Acadiana Regional Coalition for Homelessness, in conjunction with his new neighbors in the Truman area, to brainstorm how the facility can best serve the disadvantaged. "We're in the early stages of talking to other agencies who want to be under the same roof," he says. "All of us in social agencies working with these populations want to put this together."
C.A.R.E.S. has long sought to develop a daycare program that will provide childcare services to low- and moderate-income families. The new facility has room for educational programs and green space for playgrounds. Another goal is to build a substance abuse treatment program starting in 2008, which will include in-house 28-day treatment, followed by release to a halfway house, which will be housed at the facility in the future.
Meanwhile, James, who has been in discussion with the Veterans Administration to build more housing for homeless veterans, saw an opportunity to partner with C.A.R.E.S. Lafayette Catholic Service Centers is building a shelter which will offer two-year housing for 12 disabled veterans. In the next year, they hope to expand and shelter a total of 16 vets. Even with that increase, the VA is requesting more beds in this area. James and Martin are considering the possibility of using some of C.A.R.E.S.' new real estate to house homeless veterans, who could then benefit from Housing and Urban Development programs for the chronically homeless run by C.A.R.E.S.
Martin is also reaching out to the architects, designers and benefactors who helped build and furnish Hope House's original location. "I've already had phone calls offering help," he says. "The community is already responding."
Hopefully he’ll be better prepared today than he was in that Feb. 20 deposition.
They came by the hundreds, arriving from all regions of the state to gather on the steps of our capitol in protest of the Legislature’s long tradition of giving industry the go-ahead to abuse our air, our water and our coastline, all in the name of good economics.
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s recent rhetoric against President Barack Obama has failed to boost his standing among the conservative base.
Louisiana's annual legislative session begins.
The state has hired marksmen to shoot feral hogs from helicopters at two wildlife management areas in south Louisiana.
The former star of Saturday Night Live throws in his 2 cents on the Big Oil lawsuit.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Monday, March 10, 2014:
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has stalled action on a $3.5 billion annual school funding formula due to state lawmakers by March 15.
The New Orleans Saints have yet to make it official as of this writing, but popular wide receiver Lance Moore has reportedly been cut by the team to free up salary-cap space on the roster.
While two medical marijuana bills are slated for the upcoming legislative session, what some Louisianans might not know is that the plant was approved for therapeutic use by state lawmakers in 1991.
The agenda is shaping up to be lighter than in previous years. But Jindal is term-limited, with fewer than two years remaining in office, and he saw his last big initiative — a proposed rewrite of Louisiana tax law — collapse without getting a vote in 2013.
Sharper has been held without bail because of an arrest warrant issued by Louisiana authorities accusing him and another man of raping two women.
Two Lafayette men have been revealed by police as the infamous duo behind a caper that shook our fair city to its core.
The Lafayette Parish School Board has received a second letter of demand related to last year’s insurance debacle, this time from Key Benefit Administrators claiming it’s owed $93,000 from the school system.
The Louisiana coastline is vanishing faster than mappers can keep track.
A bill that would have overridden local ordinances prohibiting public and private employers from discriminating against lesbian, gay and transgender people has been pulled within less than a week of being filed.
The panel that selects nominees for a controversial New Orleans area flood control board — a board that is suing more than 90 oil, gas and pipeline companies — is set to discuss legislation affecting its independence.
State prison officials cannot keep secret the seller and manufacturer of the two drugs purchased for executions at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
State lawmakers will not appeal a judge's ruling that it was improper to use $3.7 million from a probation and parole officers' retirement fund to balance the state's operating budget.
Conservatives have been losing their minds over this satirical bit on the Colbert Report.
The Lafayette Parish School Board leaves a lot to be desired, but is scrapping the election process in favor of an appointed board the answer?
The House approved legislation Tuesday night to roll back a recently enacted overhaul of the federal flood insurance program, after homeowners in flood-prone areas complained about sharp premium increases.
The NFL has formally designated New Orleans' Jimmy Graham as a tight end for the purposes of his franchise tag value, which is now set at $7.05 million next season unless Graham and the Saints subsequently agree on a long-term deal.
A federal appeals panel ruled Monday that businesses don't have to prove that they were directly harmed by BP's 2010 Gulf Of Mexico oil spill to collect settlement payments.
The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development has closed Interstate 10 from I-49 in Lafayette to Seigen Lane in Baton Rouge.