The Augusta-area branch of the Alzheimer’s Association packed its boxes last week and hit the road.
But the organization didn’t go far.
It moved from its former location on Central Avenue in Augusta to a new building off Belair Road in Evans.
DeeDee Kurilla, the local director of development for the Alzheimer’s Association, said the move was motivated by the organization’s mission mandates and the scope of the office’s work.
“We serve 17 counties,” she said. “We take 200 help- line calls a month. We just realized that to be effective, we needed to be near a corridor.”
Kurilla said initially a move to Columbia County hadn’t been considered. What prompted crossing county lines was an equation of space, location and function.
Walking into an as-yet empty and impressively large area of the office, she pointed proudly.
“This is the reason we’re here,” she said.
The room, she explained, will be transformed into an Alzheimer’s training institute, a place where patients and their families can come to learn about living with the disease.
“It’s something we’ve always wanted to do,” Kurilla said. “We didn’t pick Columbia County. We picked the right space and it happened to be in Columbia County.”
The new office is across from Bel Air Elementary School, near the former Gibbs Library.
Kurilla said that the Alzheimer’s Association, before it became associated with the national organization, founded the Jud C. Hickey Alzheimer’s Care Center near the old Central Avenue offices.
The organization split some time ago, and she said she hoped the move might clear up some confusion as to the association between the two groups.
“At some point it was decided that trying to provide both care and broad education was too difficult, so they split,” she said.
Although still dealing with basic infrastructure issues, Kurilla said there were grand plans for the office.
She pointed to a wall that will be painted the organization’s distinctive shade of purple – “It’s the new pink,” she said with a laugh – and said that the idea was to establish an environment that was professional and comforting for clients going through a difficult ordeal.
Kathy Tuckey, the office’s director of programs and service, said all the new space’s components empower the Alzheimer’s Association to meet its mandate.
“The point is to reach as many people as we can,” she said. “All of this is about making that impact.”