One of Irmo’s most famous children, Leeza Gibbons, came home Thursday, to open the doors of Leeza’s Care Connection at 201 St. Andrews Rd. What is Leeza’s Care Connection? Leeza’s father, Carlos Gibbons, explained it perfectly. “It’s a place where caregivers can come to get help, support, healing and love and having been a caregiver for six years myself, I can assure you that all these things are extremely helpful to the caregiver.”
The facility, which provides services for caregivers of people suffering chronic and terminal illnesses, will be housed at the Michael J. and Mary Meech Mungo Home in the Whitehall neighborhood where Leeza Gibbons was raised and where she lived while attending Irmo High School.
“You know they say that you can’t go home again. They lied. When your home is Irmo, South Carolina, and when your friends and your neighbors and supporters and total strangers jump in to make your dream their dream, that’s something special,” Leeza said Thursday. “Today this dream comes true.”
Stewart Mungo, who along with his brother Steven arranged for the house they grew up in to be given to Leeza’s Care Connection and renovated to suit its new purpose, said he was glad to see it put to such good use. “We learned about putting back in the community, sharing, taking care of others here in this house, and it’s just wonderful that Leeze and her family and what they’re going to do are going to carry on this tradition.”
Many members of the community were on hand for the opening, with Irmo cheerleaders welcoming Leeza Gibbons. Irmo Mayor Hardy King presented Leeza with a commendation, as did representatives of the Greater Lexington Chamber of Commerce. Lieutenant Governor Henry McMaster was also in attendance, along with a contingent of firefighters from the Irmo Fire District. More photos from the event are available at the Midlands Anchor Facebook page.
“What I wanted was an opportunity to honor my mother, who had Alzheimer’s disease, and our family, who like so many of you had that moment when everything changed,” Leeza said. “This is where mom lived and loved and died, and where I grew my values, and where we got that news who changed everything, and where I saw my father take a major pivot as caregivers have to do.”
Carlos Gibbons explained why the new facility is so important to him. “25 years ago, my wife was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease,” he said. “We didn’t know where to turn, where to go. We were just anxious. Wouldn’t it have been wonderful if there was a place like this that I and all other caregivers could have gone at that time to have received the help and support and love that we’re going to have in this facility?”
Leeza’s Care Connection is designed to be an energetic, uplifting, caregiver focused free resource center serving the Midlands by leading the way to meet the ever increasing needs of families, neighbors and friends. It will be open to caregivers of all ages and backgrounds, offering them a safe place to share experiences and be heard, and to develop the necessary skills to handle the constantly changing demands of caregiving. More information on the services offered is available online or by phone at 803-834-7694.
“This is more than just a place to come,” Carlos Gibbons said. “It’s really a place where neighbors help neighbors, and when neighbors help neighbors, the community is greatly strengthened.”
Featured Image: Gibbons cuts the ribbon at Thursday’s ceremony (photo by Allen Wallace)