WINCHESTER — A former intern at the Adult Care Center of the Northern Shenandoah Valley Inc. is now running the place.
Katie Devolites, who graduated from Shenandoah University in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and public health, was named executive director of the senior-care facility at 411 N. Cameron St. in April.
“Originally I was here in 2016 as a student intern,” Devolites said. “I graduated, moved back to Northern Virginia for two years [working at an assisted-living facility in Fair Oaks], then my husband got moved for his job back to Winchester.”
After she returned to Winchester in 2018, Katie Devolites learned that Jane Bauknecht, the Adult Care Center’s executive director at that time, had been keeping tabs on her professional progress. When Bauknecht learned her former intern was back in the community, she offered Devolites a full-time job as an activities assistant.
Bauknecht, who had been the Adult Care Center’s director since it was founded in 1993, retired in October and Kayreen Picart was hired to run the day care facility for seniors and others with cognitive disorders including Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and Parkinson’s disease. One month later, Picart was fired for allegedly embezzling $3,000 from the nonprofit organization. Picart was indicted last month on felony charges of embezzlement and uttering and is scheduled for an initial hearing in Winchester Circuit Court this Friday.
After Picart’s dismissal from the Adult Care Center, Bauknecht agreed to return to the facility until its board of directors could find another executive director. They didn’t have to look far because Devolites was already in the building.
Devolites said she was thrilled to be offered the job: “It was one of those big dreams I had but never thought it would actually happen.”
When asked how being executive director compares to her prior role as activities assistant, Devolites laughed and said, “It’s so different. Oh, it’s so different.”
“There’s a lot more mental work now, whereas doing activities was very physically demanding,” she said. “Whitney [Lan, the Adult Care Center’s activities director] is jumping around constantly, leading exercise classes, art classes, word games, spelling games, just walking and talking with people. Being up here [in the second-floor executive director’s office], there’s a lot more looking at numbers, answering emails, talking to family members, making phone calls, grant writing, all that kind of stuff. There’s so much behind the scenes that you would never think of.”
Despite the challenges, Devolites said, “I’m loving it.”
She’s also fortunate to have Bauknecht as a mentor.
“She’s been training me,” Devolites said. “I mean, she built this place. Being able to learn under her is fantastic.”
The Adult Care Center currently serves 13 or 14 clients per day, Devolites said, but she hopes that number will grow as the COVID-19 pandemic wanes. Before the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, “we were averaging 27 a day. We would love to have that back, but we have to think about everybody’s safety. This is a very at-risk population.”
Clients are brought to the Cameron Street facility each weekday by family members or caregivers. While there, Devolites said staff members ensure clients are served lunch and a snack, receive prescribed medications and remain as mentally and physically active as possible. Rates start at $59 per day and can be at least partially covered by insurance. Scholarships are also available for eligible clients who cannot afford the center’s services.
“We try to help people in any way we can,” Devolites said.
In the near future, Devolites said the nonprofit’s board of directors plans to relocate the Adult Care Center to the campus of the Shenandoah Valley Westminster-Canterbury retirement community in Winchester.
“We’re hopefully going to get into a nice, bigger facility in the next few years,” Devolites said, referring to an intergenerational care center planned for construction as part of a previously announced expansion of the Westminster-Canterbury campus.
To help raise money for the Adult Care Center’s future, an online auction is scheduled to start on Saturday. The auction is an annual event usually held in person at the George Washington Hotel in Winchester, but was switched to a virtual format this year due to COVID-19 concerns. Items up for bid include original artwork, wine tastings, a one-hour plane ride, tickets to a Washington Nationals baseball game, and even two burial plots in Shenandoah Memorial Park.
“Our board of directors was amazing, either donating items themselves or asking places for donations,” Devolites said. “The future’s looking great.”
To find out more about the auction and Adult Care Center’s services for people with cognitive disorders, visit adultcarecenter.net.