The adaptive reuse of the old Riverside Elementary School grew out of a strategic plan for Mercy Senior Care that was developed seven year sago.
Dr. Bill Conner, chairman of Mercy’s board, said the development of a site and facility to enhance the quality of services for senior citizens and growth of the program was identified as a highest priority.
“It turned out better than we even hoped for,” Conner said.
Tom Andrews, president and CEO of the Saint Joseph’s Health System, told a large crowd that the program never really had a permanent home.
“For a while there it appeared to be living on borrowed time in its temporary home,” Andrews said.
The organization moved from its home on West Third Street to its Chatillon Road site earlier this year.
Mary Sib Banks, A Home for Mercy campaign chairwoman, said the effort to identify a new home was like a rollercoaster emotionally.
“Then when we did it, there was a challenge to raise funds to finance a renovation during the recession,” Banks said. “We have raised very close to $1.7 million. That number staggers me.”
Floyd County Manager Blaine Williams said Mercy Senior Care Director Rita Lawler and her board were “dogged in their patience, their persistence and their determination to get to this morning.”
Andrews referred to Lawler as a combination of Bill Clinton and a Sister of Mercy.
“You have a combination of the ability to convince others in such a passionate way, so in another life you were either a persuasive politician or a nun,” Andrews said.
Mercy Senior Care provides a variety of day services to nearly 500 senior citizens in the Rome area, including a day health care program, an employment program, on-the-job training, caregiver support services and a special Grands Who Care project.
Floyd County used a $500,000 2010 Community Development Block Grant to provide some of the initial seed money. The Saint Joseph’s Mercy Foundation also provided a $500,000 challenge grant.
Mercy Senior Care has been sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy and Saint Joseph’s Health System since 1989.