The Wahkiakum County Eagle

Local News

Couple plans assisted living center

Published on Wed, Dec 18, 2013 by Diana Zimmerman

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There will soon be a high end, private pay adult family home along the river in Wahkiakum County if Cathy Gawith has anything to say about it.


    She and her husband, Bob, have drawn the plans for the home, obtained the necessary permits and even removed trees from their property to make room for the coming construction. They are waiting for the financing to come through, and then building will commence.  


Bob and Cathy married in 1991 and purchased property in Little Cape Horn in 1993. Their daughter, Amy, attended high school here and has gone on to find success in her college studies.


Cathy is bursting with energy and full of ideas, not just for the business she and Bob are building, but for the community she has come to love.


“I want to see this as a county of prosperity and life,” she said. “Look at all our resources. We should focus on what we have instead of what we’ve lost. We live in one of the most beautiful areas in the country. What are we going to do about it?”


    “She’s got visions,” Bob teased.


Cathy spent last week in Washington D.C after attending a course offered by the Ritz-Carlton, a luxury hotel that has won two Malcolm Baldrige Awards for Quality of service.


    The Ritz-Carlton’s culture of customer service is so revered that business leaders come to them to learn what it is they have done so right, in order to enhance their own working environment. Cathy was surrounded by leaders in the health care industry who were looking to turn their worn out business models around and create better spaces for those in their care.


“We’ve seen the results of the health care model. The Ritz-Carlton standard—that’s what we’re chasing,” Cathy said.


The 4,000 square foot home will have five bedrooms, one designed for double occupancy, with hopes of drawing and accommodating a couple.


“We’re playing with the idea of naming the rooms,” Cathy said.


“We think we’ll call the double ‘Lewis and Clark’,” Bob said.


Cathy laughed.


“Bob is my entertainment director, my activity director, and maintenance director.  Everybody loves Bob. He’s fun. He’s funny,” she said.


As for staff, she’s thinking five might be enough. She and Bob will be available and on site, as the home will sit next to theirs.


“I don’t want to hire someone so entrenched in the medical field that they can’t see the vision of a new culture. I will get people who love love love elderly people.


Cathy has a heart for customer service. She spent most of her working life providing it at Weyerhauser. It’s become a part of her very nature. Not too long ago, she chose a layoff and decided to go to nursing school, but didn’t complete her studies when life got in the way. When her father became ill, she took her new knowledge from nursing school and her experience as a CNA to care for him in his final days.


“It was a blessing and an honor to be with him and keep him comfortable. That’s where I got my passion,” she said, “to continue doing what I did for my dad and to continue his legacy. He was a strong man of God.”


The Gawiths hope to see their business, RiverLife, in the black as soon as possible. They recognize that there is a great need in the community for elder care. They’ve even discussed adding home care at some point in time. If they build another home, they may create room for a few seniors who can’t afford high end and private pay and must rely on medicare.


Meanwhile, plans continue. The home must be built and staff must be hired. The rooms need their names. And Cathy will be searching the community for art and history to share with the lucky folks who join them in their new adventure.