By Paul Post
A new facility offering day programs for people with traumatic brain injury, Alzheimer’s and dementia is now open, after a three-year delay caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
It replaces a facility that was in Fort Edward.
STRIVE, which stands for Supportive Techniques for Rebuilding Independence & Vital Experiences, is a program of nonprofit AIM Services that supports people with developmental and intellectual disabilities, including those with traumatic brain injuries and those looking for nursing home transition or diversion.
STRIVE is for people in Saratoga, Warren and Washington counties, but participants may also come from the immediate Capital Region along with Fulton and Montgomery counties as well.
AIM is headquartered at 4227 Route 50 in Wilton, near the intersections of Old Gick and Ingersoll roads. Previously, STRIVE was housed at a somewhat remote location in Fort Edward, which presented transportation obstacles for many people.
But just down the road from its main facility, AIM found a new home for STRIVE, a former Human Society building that was renovated to provide a convenient, comfortable setting for the services STRIVE provides.
“This additional space and the expansion of these programs will not only enhance the job skills and vital life experiences for those we support, but as the programs continue to grow in their success we’re empowering the future employees and job candidates that will bolster our community’s economy,” said Bo Goliber, AIM chief development and communications officer.
A March 22 ribbon cutting was held to mark the new site’s opening at 4255 Route 50, only a quarter-mile from AIM headquarters. Ceremonies were led by Heather Harple, AIM’s assistant director of DOH services who manages the STRIVE program; and AIM CEO Chris Lyons.
“We’re trying to get the word out to get people in the door,” Harple said. “This new location is much more central to people in the Saratoga area. It’s much easier for people using Medicaid transportation to get here. STRIVE’s goal is to help people who have had a traumatic brain injury to regain skills for independent living so they aren’t forced to go into a skilled nursing facility.
“And then we’ve also opened it to people with Alzheimer’s or dementia. The focus for those people is maintaining their cognitive skills.”
STRIVE is available to anyone faced with these challenges who are on the Traumatic Brain Injury or Nursing Home Transition & Diversion waiver under the state Health Department. But there’s also a private-pay option for short-term assistance.
For example, a family might need help caring for a loved one for just a couple of hours, while they’re out in the community doing errands and can’t bring the loved one with them. STRIVE provides this type of support at significantly less cost than paying a private aide, Harple said.
The $30,000 building renovation was done in-house by AIM’s maintenance team, funded by AIM’s organizational budget and a grant from Business for Good. This grant, which AIM obtained in 2021, was designed to bolster employment services programming and other services that enhance employment skills and opportunities.
The building that houses STRIVE is actually divided into two sides, for two different programs, with a goal of creating collaborative services for the people AIM supports.
The automatic doors at STRIVE were paid for by grants from William Gundry Broughton and Cloudsplitter.
The other side of the building is being renovated for a new career center for AIM’s Supported Employment Program. This center has office space for employment services staff, and also provides a place to hold seminars, trainings, meetings and classes for the people that AIM supports in its various Employment Services programming.
The spacious new facility has a large room for gatherings and bigger groups. There’s also an area with a television and couches; a more closed off learning area; two offices and a “zen zone” quite space that gives people a place to relax.
Activities range from simple socialization to creative workshops. Because the effects of traumatic brain injury and dementia vary greatly from person to person, individual programs are tailored to individual needs.
Once enrolled, STRIVE attendees ultimately decide which types of programming they are most interested in. Some examples may include financial literacy, medication management, tech literacy, wellness, nutrition and creative arts. Programs are flexible and scheduled based on participant interest.
“Everything we do is participant driven,” Harple said. “If people want to come every day that’s fine. Some people don’t feel that they need that level of support and maybe only want to come one or two days per week. Participants are the ones driving the program.”
The new STRIVE facility also hosts monthly workshops that provide access to life-enriching experiences and social group gatherings. These have been well-attended and are usually in partnership with other community partners such as Saratoga Paint and Sip, and Wax ‘n Wix Candle Making Studio.
STRIVE also hosts monthly traumatic brain injury support group sessions in partnership with the Brain Injury Association of New York State.
Formed in 1979, AIM’s mission is supporting the “power of potential” in people of diverse abilities. Through community-based services, advocacy, and education, dedicated professionals focus on supporting people in achieving their personal goals, while promoting self-confidence and independence.
For more information about STRIVE visit www.aimservicesinc.org/services/strive. Harple may be contacted at (518) 450-2893 or email@example.com.