PLEASE NOTE: ESI’s in-person programs, including our adult day center Project Independence, are on hold for now due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Project Independence is an adult day care center providing a closely supervised daytime “home away from home” for seniors whose independence has lessened due to chronic illness, disability, or very advanced age. Our program is a nationally recognized model for other adult day care centers.
Our beautiful farmhouse-inspired campus, visible from Route 7, is located at 112 Exchange Street in Middlebury, between the R.K. Miles lumberyard and the self-storage facility.
About 40-60 participants attend Project at any given time; during the week we serve upwards of 175 participants. Most of our participants are frail elders from greater Addison County who come from diverse backgrounds. They have varying degrees of physical, cognitive, and social needs. Most of our participants no longer drive. They live with family or a caregiver; we pick them up and bring them home.
Over half of our participants have memory loss. Others have serious physical limitations due to strokes, heart conditions, or other chronic illness. Some are clear-minded and reasonably healthy but may come to socialize and have fun, since they would otherwise be isolated at home. Though they may be forgetful, not feeling good, or grieving the loss of a loved one, they’re a loving, caring audience and are very interested in our guests. They are a welcoming crowd and will make you feel at home.
Project Independence volunteers, like staff, are friendly and caring people interested in making connections within their community and contributing to a vibrant community life. Ranging in age from 6 to 92, volunteers are retired people, students, parents and children, working professionals and musicians.
The activities that volunteers lead are as diverse as the volunteers themselves. They have: played music (from classical to rock and roll), read aloud from their own writing or famous books, shared travel adventures, led art and craft projects, played sports, danced with or for us, shown their art and handicrafts (from quilts to woodworking), brought farm products in, led therapy dogs around, facilitated discussions and stories, shared historical information, played cards, shown school projects, baked cookies, done improv and put on plays, shared a special collection and so much more. Anyone can be a star for an hour with our interested, caring participants. They love getting to know you through whatever you’re passionate about.
Project’s daily schedule is built around hour-long activity periods, starting at 10:30am, 1pm, 2:30pm and 4pm on weekdays and 10:30am and 1pm on Saturdays (we are not open on Sundays). In some cases, we can rearrange our schedule to accommodate entertainers who cannot come in during one of our activity periods.
Generally, you would arrive ten minutes before your scheduled activity. A staff member will greet you and help you settle in and set up. A staff person will also be there to host your activity -- to help seat participants, tend to participant needs, facilitate conversation or help in any other way that’s needed. At the end of your activity, your staff host will be there to see you off, answer questions and listen to any feedback about your visit.
Often, activities will take place in our friendly Great Room, complete with fireplace, armchairs for about twenty-five participants, and sound system. Some volunteers like to use our big screen television there to show slides or PowerPoint presentations; others prefer to serenade participants from the baby grand piano in the corner. Readings or chats often take place in our more intimate Parlor or over coffee in our Lower Dining Room, which also hosts crafts or – pushing the tables aside – dances. Our Participants’ Kitchen is also available for cooking demonstrations. In the summer, we also have a green for golfing and tennis; a horseshoe pit, and a patio with an awning for all kinds of sports and games as well as outdoor projects.
Entertaining at Project is solely a volunteer opportunity – and it is quite rewarding!
We have a large screen television that can take input from our laptop or DVD/VHS player or from your laptop or handheld device. We have a wireless internet connection and speakers. You are encouraged to use our handheld or over-the-ear wireless microphone for the benefit of participants with hearing issues.
Please contact one of our activities staff: Kristin Bolton or Ken Schoen at 802.388.3983 or via e-mail: kristin(at)elderlyservices(dot)org; kschoen(at)elderlyservices(dot)org.
Separate from Project Independence, ESI College offers classes taught by highly qualified professionals for independent adults over 60, to promote lifelong learning. If you are interested in teaching an ESI College class, please contact Kristin Bolton or Dana Perzanoski at 802.388.3983 or via e-mail: kristin(at)elderlyservices(dot)org or dana(at)elderlyservices(dot)org.