By Adam Hocking
MARSHFIELD — In March Hub City Times covered the Human Services Academy, a unique program of Marshfield High School (MHS) that allows students to gain work-related experience with children and adult populations in a care taking setting. Inside of Tiny Tiger Intergenerational Center, MHS students are able to work with the small children of Child Care Centers of Marshfield and the adult population of the adult day care Companion Day Services.
A nonprofit organization, Companion Day Services provides care to adults recovering from illness or surgery; frail or socially isolated adults; adults experiencing a decrease in physical, social, or mental functioning; and adults with memory impairments. Shannon Soyk, the director of Companion Day Services, said that currently adults from ages 20-94 are in the program.
“We serve all different types of clientele: people with memory loss, dementia, Parkinson’s, disabilities — mental, physical,” Soyk said. “It can be adults living at home and they need to get out and socialize. It could be just elderly adults or any age adult that for some reason they can’t be home alone during the day.”
Soyk noted that Tiny Tiger Intergenerational Center was the first facility in Wisconsin to combine adult day care and a child care center and allow high school students to work with both populations.
Personal donations, participant dues, grants, and fundraisers are the main funding sources for Companion Day Services. Soyk said their full capacity is 20 participants, and currently they provide services for 12-15 people per day. Programming varies based on the day, but in general the days begin with time for participants to socialize followed by children from Child Care Centers of Marshfield visiting their “grand friends.” Musical entertainment sometimes comes to the facility; arts and crafts are common, as are baking groups; and there are regular outings or field trips for participants.
Soyk said the adults relish the chance to visit with the day care children.
“I don’t know one that doesn’t really care for the kids.” She added, “It puts a smile on the grand friends’ … face.”
Soyk added that her staff makes sure the activities they provide to participants work for all of them despite large differences in age and abilities.
“The staff are excellent with working with the individuals and knowing their level of functioning and what they can and can’t do. So instead of basing what we do on what they can’t do, we base it on what they can do,” Soyk said.
Soyk said that it is hard for her to pin down one single thing she likes most about her position as director of Companion Day Services.
“I enjoy everything. I really, when I talk about my job I say, ‘It doesn’t really feel like a job to me.’ It’s just, it’s fun. I’m very lucky that I can say that because I don’t think many people can say that about their job,” Soyk said.
Along with Soyk there are two full-time staff and two casual staff employed at Companion Day Services. Soyk said that one of the main challenges of her position is getting enough volunteers to help with daily activities and to provide one-on-one care for individuals.
To volunteer or for more information on Companion Day Services, email Shannon Soyk at firstname.lastname@example.org, visit companiondayservices.com, or call 715-384-2115. People considering joining Companion Day Services are invited to tour the facility, which is located at 905 Tiny Tigers Court in Marshfield.