Memories in the Making® Art Program was established in 1988 by art enthusiast, Selly Jenny, and art teacher, Marilyn Oropeza. When Selly’s mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease Selly became disheartened by the lack of meaningful activities for those who suffered from memory loss. A painter, Jenny thought of art. Perhaps Alzheimer’s patients could say something to loved ones if their tools were paint and paper, rather than that highly structured and organized thing called speech. Jenny’s hunch about art and Alzheimer’s was more than right. Even Alzheimer’s patients deep into the disease and already living in care facilities filled their canvases with bright colors, fuzzy but pleasant scenes of long forgotten vacations, honeymoons, and childhoods. In addition, Jenny and Marilyn identified the importance of venerating the artist, by celebrating the artwork they produced at art shows. Since its establishment, the program has shown tremendous growth as the facilitators involved with the program continuously strive to create a warm environment for individuals who suffer from memory loss.
LaDoris “Sam” Heinly, MSW, was instrumental in managing and growing the Memories in the Making® Program since joining the Alzheimer’s Association, Orange County Chapter in 1998. Over the 15 year span of her involvement some of her major accomplishments were authorship of “I’m Still Here” and “The Memories in the Making® Training Manual.” In addition, she developed a training module with the purpose of training art facilitators in the Memories in the Making® Program which she presented both nationally and internationally. She was a sought after speaker for the program and was able to generate interest which led to the tremendous growth of the program. Her passion, warmth, and knowledge was contagious as she graciously went about the business of ensuring that the program’s benefits would reach as many people as possible. This was her mission and life fervency. In Sam’s own words, “The therapeutic value of art has led me to search for a practical application. Specifically it is my interest to apply the creative process with individuals experiencing minimal communication abilities, often as the result of illness. It is my observation that individuals who are given a way of expressing their feelings experience lessen anxiety and have a greater peace of mind.”