Alcove Care in Morton ready to start taking residents

Staff at Alcove Care is ready to begin accepting residents August 1. Pictured is the staff, from left: Vicki Rice, Katie Meritt, and Kasey Kuehler; along with little helpers Baylor Meritt and Kingston Meritt.

Alcove Care in Morton is ready to continue the journey it set out on in 2017 by accepting residents beginning August 1.

The facility will be an assisted living facility, geared towards adults with disabilities.

“We’re looking for clients that fall within a range of needs and abilities,” said Kasey Kuehler, the certified counselor at the facility.

She said the facility will be able to house up to six individuals in the home.

“It’s ready to go, it’s taken years, but we’re there with regulations,” Kuehler said.

The adventure for Kuehler and her partner, Vicki Rice, began in 2017 with the donation of the home in the 100 block of SW 5th Street by the Ginger McCasland-Carter family, in honor of Burl and Louise McCasland.

Over time, the staff at Alcove Care encountered several challenges with state licensing and regulations that inhibited their ability to open a residential care facility as they had hoped.

However, this hasn’t stopped them from their ultimate mission of caring for and empowering persons with special needs.
Instead, they focused their efforts on reaching out into the community and helping individuals with special needs play a greater role in their community.

Alcove Care has hosted ABC (Alcove Buddy Club) Day once a month and a yearly golf tournament fundraiser.

ABC Day is a day that provides opportunities to socialize, practice social and daily living skills, connect with the community and just have some fun, Kuehler said.

“It’s a place for people to go to hang out and have fun,” Kuehler said. “There’s no specific job skills training or anything, it’s socialization and fun.”

This year, Alcove Care had to cancel its March, April and May ABC Days during the coronavirus pandemic. This Saturday, the first ABC Day since February will be held in Morton.

Last year, the club was heavily involved in planting the garden at the facility. From there, the participants went on to harvest the garden and make lunches with their homegrown vegetables.

“We try to incorporate their involvement as much as possible,” Kuehler said.

This year, staff had to plant the garden without the buddies, but staff is excited they will be back in time for harvest.

“Harvesting is their favorite part anyway,” Rice said.

At past buddy club days, Rice and Kuehler have hosted bowling tournaments, corn hole tournaments, and cooking activities.

Rice and Kuehler agreed that the most excited they have seen the buddies was after decorating cupcakes to donate to the Cochran County Cake-A-Thon.

“You would have thought they were giving them a million dollars,” Rice said. “They were so proud to donate their cupcakes.”
Kuehler said this is why Alcove Care believes in getting persons with disabilities involved in the community because it brings a sense of self-fulfillment.

“This is an area where we have missed out with this particular area of people,” Kuehler said. “We have always more so helped them rather than given them the opportunity to help others.”

Kuehler and Rice both have a deep love and understanding for individuals with disabilities as Rice’s son, Michael, who is also Kuehler’s cousin, is mentally handicapped.

Before moving back to the Morton and Levelland area, Kuehler worked for a therapeutic home for adults with disabilities in Austin.

There, she saw that group homes weren’t the “horror stories” people sometimes read about in the media. Instead, this home provided opportunities for adults to be involved and empowered them to lead as normal lives as possible.

“I just thought, my cousin Michael needs to live somewhere like this,” Kuehler said.

When she returned to the area, Rice was simultaneously preparing to retire as superintendent at Morton ISD. She and Rice partnered together to take on the Alcove Care project and both agree that God took over from there.

“Alcove is definitely a God thing,” Kuehler said.

The pair learned that Natalie Silhan, who was at that time serving as the district agent for the Cochran County Ag Extension Office, had spent years acquiring a non-profit license to open an assisted living facility or nursing home in Morton.

They were able to secure that non-profit license for Alcove Care and everything fell into place from there. The home was donated by the McCasland-Carter family, and the community support began pouring in.

On July 11, Alcove Care will host its annual golf tournament fundraiser, a four-person golf scramble.

Rice said there are still spots available for teams and sponsorships are $200 per team. Interested individuals can call (806) 266-0026 to reserve a spot.

Although not everything went off without a hitch, Rice and Kuehler are elated to finally be at a point where they can begin taking care of residents on a 24 hour, seven days a week basis.

“In the last three years, not only have we built infrastructure, we have learned a lot about how the state works,” Rice said. “We have gotten big curve balls, but we’ve also gotten some grants to build the day program next door, put in a fire alarm and sprinkler system in this home…and prepare a home for assisted living to meet all the regulations.”

The grant Alcove Care received was from the Morton Industrial Foundation to tear down an old residence and rebuild a new 40 foot by 80 foot building that will serve as Alcove Care’s day program for adults.

“There will be several different levels of skill building, day living, job skill building, or just whatever they want to do,” Kuehler said. “Ideally, we’ll have available opportunities for work…so they can make money for themselves and buy things they want.”

Originally, Kuehler and Rice wanted to start an HCS funded home that would accept Medicaid. Though the first home will not be HCS funded, the pair are also on a path to start that home in the future, as well.

“We had a lot of setbacks and changes in the first go around,” Kuehler said. “We weren’t technically successful, but our second home will be a Medicaid home.”

Alcove Care purchased the house across the street from its assisted living home, which will serve as the future HCS funded home for adults.

Right now, though, they are focused on finding clients who are interested in giving Alcove Care’s assisted living facility a go.

“We don’t have anyone signed up yet,” Kuehler said. “We’ve had some interest, but we don’t have any ‘for sure’ commitments. We are really ready to advertise and get the word out for people to come and give them a tour, to tell them what we’re all about, and also to make sure they’re a good fit for us and we’re a good fit for them.”

She said the assisted living facility will have a strict open door policy and family members are welcome to come and go, so long as they’re not out on a field trip, as they please.

“We don’t ever want them to feel like they’re putting their family in a place where they aren’t accessible,” Kuehler said. “It’s completely open door. Their family is our family.”

Anyone who is interested in the Alcove Care facility is encouraged to contact Kuehler or Rice by email at [email protected], phone at (806) 266-0026, or through Facebook at facebook.com/alcovecare.

1 Comment

  1. Joann Gonzalez on June 29, 2020 at 1:03 pm

    If you need in help with cleaning let me know I would like to help out . I work from 8-5 Monday thru Friday at the Hospital here in Morton email me for any ?

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