Sometime in May 2016 a friend asked me to write a blog about Memory Matters “through the eyes of a volunteer” working in the social day program we call Compass, and later in the Connections class we teach those with mild memory loss or an early diagnosis of a dementia. I never expected to write over 70 blogs but here is number 72! I still can say it is a privilege to be part of the team of volunteers working enthusiastically with our terrific staff who live the value of compassion with unfailing dedication every day. It is truly rewarding, and for any potential volunteers reading this blog, don’t hestitate, call us for more information!
The warm “heart” at Memory Matters is enduring and crucial, and it is being nurtured and creatively enhanced. You will always find the same unique services provided by skilled and motivated staff, including Memory Care Specialists and Program Directors, professionally trained to assist individuals directly dealing with memory loss. This dynamic team, is assisted by over 100 loyal and dedicated volunteers, collectively supporting caregivers with up to 5 hours of respite per day, with licensed private counseling, and facilitated peer support groups.
Compass Day Programs were refined and enhanced in 2017, with a considerable increase in music therapy provided by many new, experienced and talented musicians. Also added were exciting and engaging presentations including Gullah basket weaving, local land and marine wildlife from the Coastal Discovery Museum; and exercise and essential balance programs specifically designed by our partners at Horizon Rehabilitation.
I have to admit that the music programs are so much fun, not just for participants of Compass, but for the staff and volunteers too. The music often includes interesting triva questions, little competitions to see who can complete the line to a song title, and of course singing and dancing to songs everyone remembers well. Songs like “You Are My Sunshine”, “Bye Bye Baby”, “Dream Lover”, “Country Roads” and “Teenager in Love”. We are all teenagers in heart!
Today one of our bands played. We call them the Memory Matters Merry Minstrels and are led by the irrepressible Kirby Sullivan. Ever since they volunteered their time and talent a year ago, they have become a Tuesday highlight. They are really great fun!
Then a few months ago a wonderful gentleman – John Ratliff – arrived with his thirteeen year old daughter Amélie and “blew our socks off”, with their charisma and skillfully played music. John plays guitar and sings, tells stories and accompanies Amélie, who is simply a phenominally talented violinist. Amélie will play solo a classical piece of music, and then they team together to play bluegrass, Irish music, show tunes and Jazz. John has some songs of his own and he has the ability to engage with every single person in the room. I cannot possibly describe just how much enjoyment our participants encounter through this medium of musical therapy.
My friend and fellow volunteer Bob Engle and I love the way the Tuesday program has evolved over the past 15 months, but every day of the week here is special!
A day after Amélie and John performed at Memory Matters Bob Engle and I met socially. Bob was reminiscing about his seven continuous years of volunteering at Memory Matters, and he wistfully and poignantly opined that this last Tuesday afternoon’s hour long performance by Amélie and John was perhaps the most inspirational Compass program he had ever personally experienced! The participants were so joyfully engaged and without exception they loved every moment. Now we call that a “mission moment”!
Should you believe that this blog would interest or help someone in our community, please share. We can be reached for confidential conversation and free baseline memory screening at 1 843 842 6688. Check us out at http://www.memory-matters.org