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After a five-year planning and building process, the Santa Maria Wisdom Center on Thursday celebrated the opening of its new adult day care building for medically frail, elderly adults living with disabilities and those diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer's disease.

The new building — located at 2255 S. Depot St. — is more than double the size of its previous location, going from around 3,800 to 9,500 square feet, said Linda Gadbois, the Wisdom Center's program director. The increased space allows the organization to increase its capacity from 60 to 100 patients.

On Thursday, around 40 community members gathered at the new facility to celebrate its opening.

First opened in 1998, the Santa Maria Wisdom Center provides door-to-door transportation to and from its facility. Seniors with cognitive and physical disabilities are provided with on-site nursing care and medication management, physical therapy and recreational activities.

The Life Steps Foundation, the nonprofit that operates the Wisdom Center, aims to delay the need for seniors and aging adults with disabilities to be institutionalized in assisted care facilities.

The new center — which includes an expanded dedicated Alzheimer's program — was designed with drought-tolerant landscaping, a full-service kitchen, a gym, a 1,000 square-foot outdoor patio and a 6,000 square-foot activity room.

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In 2015, Life Steps was awarded nearly $200,000 in Community Block Development Grant money from the city of Santa Maria to support the construction of a larger building.

“It has been said that it takes a village to raise a child, but in the case of the new Santa Maria Wisdom Center facility it has taken a community to raise our roof,” Gadbois said.

Councilwoman Etta Waterfield said the Wisdom Center addressed an important issue that is sometimes overlooked.

“We always talk about day cares, but we always talk about day cares for children,” she said. “This is one of the most important buildings that I believe has ever been built in the city of Santa Maria because it takes care of our seniors who have built this country. We need to make sure that we have every asset at our disposal to make sure they are well taken care of.”

Santa Maria Mayor Alice Patino thanked members of the Block Grants Advisory Committee for their work to decide which projects and organizations should receive grants and noted the need that exists in the city for the Wisdom Center.

“This is someplace that is going to be used and something that fills a need we have in our city,” she said.

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Razi Syed covers Santa Maria City Government for Lee Central Coast Newspapers.  Follow him on Twitter @razisyed

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City Government

Razi Syed covers city government for the Santa Maria Times. He is a graduate of Fresno State University and New York University.