Open Hands, the agency that has provided adult day care and other services to Santa Fe’s elderly since the 1970s, will close as of next Friday.
“If you drive by our building, you’ll see a “For Sale” sign,” said Alden Oyer, , president of the nonprofit’s board of directors. “We’ve had the building on the market for 13 months. We are operating at a loss.”
The staff of about 20 were told of the closing this morning. Open Hands is located on Rodeo Park Drive East.
Oyer blamed the closing on the recession. Donations and funding dwindled while expenses grew, he said.
“We were hanging in there, but the economy started to tank,” he said. “Generally, we’ve run out of money.”
The agency is also struggling with “substantial” debt, he acknowledged, although he would not give the figure. He said even if someone donated a “substantial” check, the money would only keep the organization afloat for a couple of months.
He said the agency was finding places for its 19 adult day care clients “as best we can.” He said workers would complete contracted home modifications such as wheelchair ramps.
Since its 1977 inception, Open Hands has provided services to help frail elderly, disabled and impoverished members of the community to live independently. Its adult care program provided professional care for people who suffered from Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia. It also offered home modifications like bathroom grab bars and walker-safe stairs to help keep disabled people mobile. Its medical equipment loan bank has lent canes, walkers, wheelchairs, shower benches and commodes to anyone in the community for free.
Open Hands is now giving away all of these items. Its thrift store on Cerrillos Road near The Pantry restaurant will hold a fire sale until the closing date. After that, the building and its assets will be sold to pay its creditors in full, Oyer said.
“I shed quite a few tears over this myself,” he continued, “and so have the staff. We feel like we’ve lost a dear family member.
“I can’t overstate our appreciation for the way the staff has hung in there.”
Other agencies have already requested resumes from Open Hands’ employees, he added.