The fruit of the vine and a recent grant are giving a financial boost to the work of the Alzheimer's Alliance Tri-State Area.
On Monday, the alliance received a $6,000 biannual grant from the Alzheimer's Foundation of America to help fund the Memory Café program. Collins Cockerell, development coordinator for the alliance, said the monetary award will help to restart the program, which has been sidelined by the pandemic.
The Memory Café meets once a month at the alliance's office, 100 Memory Lane in Texarkana, Texas. It offers a support group for caregivers while their loved ones suffering with dementia-related illness enjoy a variety of stimulating activities, including crafts, dominoes and live music, Cockerell said in an interview with the Gazette.
"It allows caregivers to meet up with other families going through the same situation, to be able to talk about their struggles," she said.
Alzheimer's Alliance Executive Director Terrie Arnold said in the past, about 30 families visited the cafe monthly.
Supporting the caregiver is a vital part of a dementia treatment plan, Arnold said.
"Through supporting and improving the lives of caregivers, research shows that they are not only empowered to continue to care for their loved one, but it also extends their lives," Arnold said in a news release announcing the grant. "Statistics indicate each day of respite adds 23 days to a caregiver's life."
The Alzheimer's Foundation's president and chief executive officer agreed.
"Community-based programs are essential as the prevalence of Alzheimer's disease continues to grow. It is imperative that families have access to support, education and resources so they can have a higher quality of life," Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. said in the news release. "We are proud to support Alzheimer's Alliance Tri-State Area in delivering much needed services to families in Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma affected by dementia."
Announcement of the grant comes on the heels of the alliance's largest yearly fundraiser -- the Twice As Fine Wine Festival. The seventh festival was held Saturday at Spring Lake Park, and it didn't disappoint.
"It was wonderful. The (Parks Department) actually said it was the largest number of people they ever parked at Spring Lake Park," Cockerell said.
The exact fundraising amount was unavailable Monday, but Arnold thinks the alliance will come close to hitting its mark of $275,000.
"I do believe that we will meet our goal. It appears we should net in the $250,000 range," Arnold said. "The numbers are still coming in."
Proceeds from the fundraiser go toward the support and educational initatives offered by Alzheimer's Alliance Tri-State Area, which serves over 17,000 people in 22 counties. A marquee program is the Our Place Day Respite Center, which is provided three times a week. Like the Memory Cafe, it gives caregivers a chance to rest while alliance staff and volunteers engage the patient -- whom Cockerell called "our friends" -- in social and cognitive activities.
(For information on the Alzheimer's Alliance Tri-State Area and their services, visit www.alztristate.org.)