Every Monday morning, Jane Williams, 79, pieces together puzzles, plays dominos and chats with her friends at Miller's Place, an Alzheimer's day care and adult day health center in Modesto.
Williams, 79, isn't a client, she's a volunteer. She's one of two people who dedicate one morning each week to the center, where participants enjoy social activities, music, art, crafts and games, as well as physical and occupational therapy, among other things.
"I've met so many neat people," said Williams, who used to work in banking. "They give me more than I think I've given them."
Doctors Medical Center Foundation, the organization that runs Miller's Place, could use a lot more volunteers like Williams -- 10 of them, to be exact. The group will hold a volunteer orientation Tuesday.
The idea is to attract volunteers to the center at a time when state budget cuts could mean less money for the care of older adults.
The organization opened a thrift store last year, hoping that proceeds from sales would help sustain the program in case of a threatened 40 percent cut in state funds. That cut never happened, thanks to a court order.
Now, the foundation is shoring up staffing with volunteers in case Gov. Schwarze- negger's recent budget proposal to eliminate funding for adult day care goes through.
"It makes no sense," said Thomas Truax, chief executive officer of the foundation, noting that nursing home care costs the state roughly $250 per day, but care at an adult day health center costs $77 per day.
Truax anticipates that volunteers will become a bigger part of the organization, given the state's bleak budget picture. Although staff will continue to be responsible for things like physical therapy and dietary plans, volunteers will work with program aides to keep clients busy and happy.
"We have fun; we talk and play games," said Williams, who has been with Miller's Place since 2001, when it was housed in a church on Miller Avenue.
The program has grown since those days, when it had only a handful of Alzheimer's patients. Now the center has an adult day health care component, in which it cares for frail, elderly and disabled adults. Some 40 people attend each day between the two programs.
The center is at the foundation's office complex at 730 McHenry Ave. The foundation provides childbirth, family, safety and diabetes education there as well.
Miller's Place is at the heart of it all, occupying three large rooms. There, staff members read the newspaper to clients every morning. They play golf and bowling on the Wii video-game system. They play hot potato with an aluminum foil "potato." The team with the best time wins.
Volunteers will be a part of it all. They can socialize with clients, work in the office or even help in the kitchen, said Liz Fells, activity director for Miller's Place.
Fells hopes to recruit 10 volunteers, enough for two people to be on duty each day. She especially wants to attract volunteers with talents they want to share with clients, like art or music.
But you don't need special skills to volunteer at Miller's Place. Just ask Williams, who spends Monday mornings playing dominos and checkers with the group.
"It's my second home," she said. "I love it."
Bee staff writer Kerry McCray can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2358.