Expanding care: Dubuque family to donate $1 million to creation of caregiver resource center

Shirley Templeton Vaughn PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

Chris Theisen PHOTO CREDIT: Elite Images

Shirley Templeton Vaughn PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

Chris Theisen PHOTO CREDIT: Elite Images

Shirley Templeton Vaughn PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

Chris Theisen PHOTO CREDIT: Elite Images

Shirley Templeton Vaughn PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

Chris Theisen PHOTO CREDIT: Elite Images

A Dubuque family has pledged $1 million toward the creation of a resource center for nonprofessional caregivers, and a local organization now is looking to raise a matching amount.

Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque announced it is partnering with the Theisen family, the owner of Theisen Supply, on fundraising efforts for the planned Dubuque Area Caregiver Resource Center to be opened at Stonehill Communities, 3485 Windsor Ave.

The center would provide a range of advisory and support services for people who are responsible for the care of loved ones, either elderly or ill. The Theisen family has promised to contribute $1 million to the center for the creation of an endowment fund that will be used to fund the annual expenses of the facility. The foundation is working to raise an additional $1 million in order to give the fund enough financial weight to generate $100,000 annually.

Chris Theisen, vice president of operations for Theisen Supply, said his father, Jim Theisen, chose to pursue the creation of the center after spending several years as the primary caregiver for his wife, Marita Theisen, who has Alzheimer’s disease.

“It’s challenging dealing with anybody with a chronic illness,” Chris said. “You think you can handle it all by yourself, but at some point in time, you need to reach out to other people.”

He emphasized that the center, which will be the first of its kind in the area, is meant to help all primary caregivers and not just those who are taking care of people with Alzheimer’s disease.

Stonehill Communities has started construction on an addition to its facility that will be used for additional administration and outreach space. A portion of that addition would be devoted to the new caregiver center.

Shirley Templeton Vaughn, project coordinator with Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque, said the addition at Stonehill won’t be completed until next summer, but Stonehill already offered to provide temporary space there to allow for the caregiver center to open before the end of the year.

“We want to get this to the community as soon as we can,” she said.

Templeton Vaughn said the center likely will hire at least one full-time coordinator. It would maintain a volunteer workforce as well.

When completed, the center will provide a wide variety of services to caregivers, including educational programs, support groups and social work assistance.

Officials at Stonehill Communities did not return calls and messages seeking comment on this story.

Though the project was initially delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Chris Theisen said he is optimistic about the Caregiver Resource Center and believes it will benefit the community.

“So many of us are dealing with it, and we need to have some sort of help along the way,” he said. “This should help to provide that.”

John Kruse writes for the Telegraph Herald.

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