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In My Community
Summer 2009 Newsletter
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To read the newsletter in its entirety, click here to download.  This file is large and will take time to download.

Highlights from the current issue:

 

From the Executive Director

Theresa Hocker, Executive DirectorIn March, our national office of the Alzheimer’s Association announced new prevalence figures for this dreaded disease: 

  • There are as many as 5.3 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease and that number is expected to grow to as many as 16 million by 2050, unless medical interventions change rapidly
  • By 2010 there will be nearly a half million new cases of Alzheimer’s each year, and by 2050 there will be nearly a million new cases per year.
  • Every 70 seconds, someone in America develops Alzheimer’s disease and by mid-century someone will develop Alzheimer’s every 33 seconds.

Alzheimer’s disease is the public health threat of the 21st century.  More about Alzheimer’s disease statistics can be found in the national Facts and Figures report.

The reported growth in the number of individuals and families affected by Alzheimer’s disease only renews our local commitment to the mission of the Alzheimer’s Association - to advance research and help people.  Our chapter staff and volunteers work hard everyday to address the needs of those in our communities who call us, stop by our offices, participate in our support groups, attend our education programs, check-out materials from our libraries, invite us to speak to community groups, visit us online or seek our help in other ways.  Last year, our chapter provided services to nearly 4,000 individuals.  Additionally, we assisted the majority of these individuals on multiple occasions.  With your ongoing help, we will continue and increase our level of service to those who call upon us.

Recent months have seen a flurry of chapter activity and the foreseeable future promises more of the same!  This issue of the newsletter reports on our highly-attended spring symposium, our participation in national advocacy efforts, our remarkable “Thanks for the Memories” dinner/auction, our on-going outreach to the African-American community, a visit fom the chair of our national board of directors and the introduction of a new, long-awaited art program for those with Alzheimer’s  - Memories in the Making®.  Additionally, we have rolled out a new training program for residential staff - Foundations of Dementia Care.  We have a series of screenings of the phenomenal HBO Special, The Alzheimer’s Project, planned throughout our chapter service area.  We are excited to welcome national advocate Bill Bridgwater to Abilene and Waco to help kick off our early stage support groups that will begin new sessions in three locations later this summer.  Our education calendar is bursting with varied and high quality offerings over the coming months! 

As we proceed into these summer months, hundreds of volunteers, healthcare professionals, business and community people, along with our chapter staff, are actively planning what is sure to be the best Memory Walk season of our history.  Memory Walk is our signature fund raising event.  Last year, our six fall Memory Walks raised nearly half a million dollars!  The economy presents new challenges this year, but the urgency of our mission has never been greater, especially with the mounting prevalence.  We are adding a seventh walk this year - in Northeast Tarrant County!  On-line fund raising, team building and corporate sponsorships are already underway.  Please start fund raising for Memory Walk right away.  Keep an eye on our on-line reporting to track the dollars being raised in your community to support the Alzheimer’s Association through our annual Memory Walk.  Look for announcements about kick-off events throughout the summer for a Memory Walk near you.  Set your goal, build your team and mark your calendar now to participate in this nationwide event to combat Alzheimer’s disease.  You’ll find more information here.    

If you have questions about services, Memory Walk or any aspect of our work, call the chapter office closest to you or call our toll-free helpline number anytime day or night at 1.800.272.3900.  Please be our ambassadors and spread the word about the work of the Alzheimer’s Association.  While the Alzheimer’s Association continues our efforts to find a cure, we want everyone to know there is help available for those facing this disease today.  If not before, I’ll see you in my running shoes this fall at Memory Walk!   

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National Board Chair Pinch Hits AND Hits for the Cycle!!!

     
  "Pinch-hitter" and national board chair Paul Attea with chapter governing board chair David Mellina (left) and executive director Theresa Hocker (right).  
     
In baseball jargon hitting for “the cycle” is rarely attained.  It means the batter reaches base four times by hitting a single, double, triple and a home run.  It is every player’s dream; few ballplayers make it a reality during their career.

Paul Attea, chair of the national board of directors of the Alzheimer’s Association, was the pinch hitter on May 19 and 20, when he stepped up to take the place of our national CEO and president, Harry Johns.  With just a little more notice than a ballplayer gets from the team’s manager to “get in the game,” Paul exhibited the true spirit of teamwork, changed his schedule and arrived in Fort Worth with his game face on.

During his first at bat, he attended a board luncheon where new and longtime friends of the North Central Texas Chapter, including current and former board members, gathered to hear an update on the national organization.  He reported on the need to increase concern and awareness for our cause, outlined new initiatives designed to provide more enhanced care and support for those dealing with Alzheimer’s disease and told about advances being made in research.

     
 

From left to right: Lyn Downing, development director, Paul Attea, national board chair, Frances Cooper, support group leader and volunteer, and Theresa Hocker, executive director.

 
     
Taking the plate for his second at bat, he met with the chapter’s staff.  Paul brought years of experience to the conversation based upon his service to the local chapter in his home state of Massachusetts.  Regional directors from Abilene, Waco and Wichita Falls joined Fort Worth program and support staff as Paul delivered a message of hope for getting our message seen and heard through various outlets around the country.  He answered questions with an open and candid attitude which gave staff an insider’s look into the work of the national organization. 

   
 

David Kulesz and Greta Beckerman at the board luncheon

 
     
During a late inning at bat at a private residence, everyone enjoyed a perfect Texas evening in an outdoor patio setting.  Paul’s audience of faithful and generous supporters of the chapter’s mission was excited to learn how their resources had been put to use.  He confirmed that while contributions are important to and appreciated by the organization, their willingness and ability to tell our story to colleagues and friends will be invaluable to moving our cause forward in the coming years.  As a hummingbird listened and the house cat slept, Paul fielded numerous questions from this group with straight-forward and hard-hitting answers about the future of fundraising in this environment. 
 
  Volunteer Luncheon Guests  
 

 
 

From left to right: Wendy Vanatko, Barb Hary, Cathy Torres and Ursula Fontenot.

 
     
     
 

From left to right: Ed Young, Dan Stone and Lillian Davis

 
     
In the ninth inning, with the game tied, Paul stepped up and proved he understands the debt that our association owes to its volunteers.  At the final at bat for his quest for the cycle, Paul hit a home run as he met with North Central Texas Chapter volunteers.  They were being honored for the numerous hours of donated time to help with programs, services, fundraisers and committee work that must be accomplished in order to meet the needs of our growing Alzheimer’s population.  As the association’s chief volunteer, Paul shared his knowledge of the commitment exhibited by those who serve our cause while expecting nothing in return.

As we celebrated the game winning home run, Paul was unanimously voted the “Most Valuable Player” by the North Central Texas Chapter.  During the premiere showing of a new chapter video with each group, Paul demonstrated his team spirit by watching four presentations without asking to be benched.  The North Central Texas Chapter is honored and proud to have Paul Attea on their team.

 

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Art Program Introduced in North Central Texas

Lisa Buck, Memories in the Making® program coordinator, shares some of her insights and impressions about the launch of this special program in the North Central Texas Chapter.


     
   Doris, James L. West (above) and Peggie, Oak Hollow (below)  
     
     
Memories in the Making®, an art program for people with dementia, has been around for over 20 years and adopted by some 18 chapters of the Alzheimer’s Association nationwide.  Google Memories in the Making®, and dozens of references will appear, from tales of wildly successful art auctions to human interest stories in daily newspapers.  For individuals who are losing many of their abilities, painting may open up new avenues for communication, self-expression, remembrance and joy. 

Memories in the Making® enjoys such a glowing reputation for improving the quality of life for people with Alzheimer’s disease that it is no wonder Theresa Hocker, Executive Director, had it on her wish list for programs to bring to North Central Texas.  When I was hired in January to launch Memories here, neither of us really knew what the dream would look like in reality.  A pilot program involving six local care facilities as testing grounds revealed the secrets of the program’s success and prepared us to expand throughout the region.

In its purest form, Memories in the Making® employs high quality watercolor paints and nice, thick paper.  “My residents won’t be able to paint with watercolors,” said one skeptical activity director as she shuffled coloring book pages completed that morning.  But the beauty of watercolor paint is that anyone who can hold a brush can make an artistic-looking mark.  “If it’s paint on paper,” I tell my artists, “it’s a painting.”  I have paintings of lines, circles and blotches, sailboats and flowers.  Many of them are beautiful, especially if you appreciate modern art, as I do.

     
   Eddie May, Manor Care  
     
     
   Volunteer Linday Wilson with Vivian, Oak Hollow  
The pleasure of making art is as individual as the people who make it.  Memories is a group activity with an individual focus.  For some, the pleasure comes from participating in an entertaining, once-a-week activity.  Others soak up the personal attention, encouragement and praise from the volunteers who are so much a part of the program.  Still others are reminded of people and events in their lives and want to tell stories.  There are people who can’t see or hear well but who paint with confidence, and people who normally can’t sit still who become absorbed in their work.

“This is beautiful. I really like this,” I say. “What would you like to call it?”  “A mess,” says Mary, but her broad smile and twinkly eyes betray how pleased she is with her effort.  Memories in the Making® was developed by two artists.  They understood that art isn’t a skill, or even necessarily a form of communication.  They knew it was possible for people with vastly diminished skills, including the ability to communicate, to make paintings as individual as they are and to find pleasure, beauty and meaning in doing so.

To find out how to host Memories in the Making® at your facility or to find a community class near you, contact Lisa Buck at 817.336.4949.  To learn about this chapter's program start, clck here.

 

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Alzheimer's Association

Our vision is a world without Alzheimer's
Formed in 1980, the Alzheimer's Association is the world's leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer's care, support and research.