by: Greg Suskin Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Caregivers at an adult day care are battling a bank that's foreclosing on their south Charlotte building.
Workers and family members took to the street Thursday to support New Friends Adult Daycare by protesting outside a First Citizens Bank branch on Eastway Drive. They want the bank to let them stay in their building on Commonwealth Avenue until they can find a place to move their clients.
The protesters weren't chanting -- or even angry -- while marching outside the bank. Their message was one of loss.
"I can't even explain it, other than the fact that it's just very, very sad. Very somber," said Elaine Walker, New Friends Adult Daycare executive director.
New Friends serves dozens of people, many suffering with dementia. For some, it's their only chance to be with other people during the day while their families work.
The adult day care is funded by Mecklenburg County, but the private holding company the day care was renting from was foreclosed on last month. Now the bank wants the day care out immediately, according to Walker.
"I would hope that they would have some compassion about what is happening inside the building, as opposed to just seeing it as a building," Walker said.
She said the bank wants the building by the end of the month. However, they hope to stay at least six months to find a new place to put everyone, and they're willing to pay rent to the bank during that time.
On Thursday, caregivers and employees carried signs trying to shame First Citizens, accusing the bank of evicting the disabled. Protesters said their clients are totally dependent on others, and are not people who easily adjust to sudden change.
"We're talking about people suffering with strokes, dementia, Alzheimer's (disease). We have a quadriplegic there. They're not able to just up and move," said Lavondia Holloman.
Her husband survived multiple strokes and is a client at New Friends. She said such a place is rare and means everything to her family.
"He has a place to go where it's safe, and he has friends," she said.
More than an hour into the protest the branch manager at First Citizens asked the group to stop protesting and said they'd be willing to talk about the situation. The group from New Friends said that all they wanted was to get the bank to listen and reopen a dialogue between the two sides. They felt the best way to accomplish that was to stand together in public.
"I think up until now there hasn't been a face associated with what's going on," Holloman said.
It's unclear now what will happen next -- or if anything different will happen – that will allow the business to stay longer at the place it's been for four years.
When Eyewitness News spoke to First Citizens last week, they said there never was a deadline to move the adult day care out of their building. However, they wouldn't say how much time they really have before they are made to move.
On Thursday, Eyewitness News had more questions for First Citizens about the foreclosure. A spokeswoman at the bank's headquarters in Raleigh said someone would reply on Friday.