Alzheimer's Support Network of Naples, Florida

 

The Alzheimer's Support Network has been Honored with the Community Outreach Award 
                                                      

Thank you Naples Daily News!

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Acceptance Speech and Letter of Gratitude  (by Clarke Pollard)

I am honored to be accepting this award on behalf of everyone who makes up the Alzheimer's Support Network.  We are profoundly grateful to those who nominated us, the judges who voted for us, and Naples Daily News for this grand distinction.  This award has deeply touched us all.

I am accepting this award for Chuck and Suky, my mom and dad.  Chuck and Suky are the founders of the support network.  Their passion and persistence is the reason the Support Network exists 32 years after they created it.  It is a pleasure to accept this, on their behalf.

They would be the first to say, the Network is not theirs.  The Network is yours.  It belongs to all involved.  It belongs to Naples, and Collier County.  It belongs to you.

The Support Network is comprised of many parts, all of which are well represented here today.   First, there is our staff.   Marianne, Debbie, Liz, Lynne, Maritza, Jeanne and myself.   We are a small group.  What joins us together is a steadfast resolve, and solid devotion, to each other and to those we serve.  I am honored to be a part of this team.

So many of our board members are here, both present and past members.   No organization could ask for a better Board of Directors.   Your skills, knowledge, and understanding makes working with each of you a delight.

We have quite a few of our wonderful volunteers here.  The Network could not function without our volunteers.   Our mailings are entirely prepared and sent out by our volunteers. Our Ladies Club and Gentlemen's Club are special programs that are designed to provide a safe, social setting for those in the early stages of dementia.  These programs are staffed and run almost entirely by volunteers.  And most recently our Friendly Visitor program spearheaded by Joanne Mahoney is going gang-busters.  This is a peer-to-peer program that provides ongoing contact with vulnerable individuals.  It has made a profound impact on so many lives.   To all our volunteers, I thank you.

So many friends and families are here.   Friends and families are the heart and soul of the network.  Our unofficial motto at the Network is 'families helping families.'  And this is exactly what occurs.  Dealing with a disease like Alzheimer's can make caregivers think they are going crazy.   Often a caregiver feels isolated and alone.  They feel like they are the only ones going through this.  Being around others who are traveling the same road not only provides a sense of solace but also a slice of sanity. 

A caregiver will come to support group and say:  "you will never believe what my wife did last night: She took out the milk, and poured it into an ice tray.   And then she put the ice tray in the oven".  And another caregiver will say:  "

That's nothing.  Last week, my husband took all the cold cuts and hung them in the yard on clothes pins."

There is nothing like being in a room surrounded by others who understand you.  And that's why we have over 30 support groups a month.  To all our families who are always helping other families on this tough road, I salute you.

Our friends who are providing professional services to our families, we know we lean on you heavily.   We expect a lot, and you don't let us down. 

We have several community partners here who help us provide services we could not otherwise provide.  Our Gentlemen's Club is such a success in large part due to Peter Hendrickson and Terricana Grand providing us not only a meeting space but also lunches every week.   We thank you.  

Loren Whipple of Avow Hospice runs two support groups that focus on the emotional needs of caregivers. So often the feelings and needs of caregivers are pushed deep inside, and the focus is entirely on the needs of the patients.  The Road to Acceptance and the Day to Day Coping support groups allows caregivers to get in touch with their own feelings.  And Loren imparts more than a few coping skills along the way.  In addition, Louise Kenny faciitates our monthly Bridge from Grief Meeting for those who have lost family members. Thank you Loren, Louise and Avow.

Dr. Bill Beckwith runs our Minders Keepers support group that provides an opportunity for those who have memory issues to talk directly about the challenges they face.  At this group, Dr. Beckwith gives them tools and strategies to live as independently as possible, as long as possible.  At the same time, Dr. Saldukas holds a support group for the spouses and helps them cope with the earlier stages.  Thank you Dr. Bill and Dr. Steve.

Angela Larson and Jackie Borchers from the Collier County Sheriff Office partner with us in running the Wanderer's Identification program.   It puts needed information into the hands of first responders.   It can save minutes, hours, and it does save lives.  Thank you Angela, Jackie, Sheriff Rambos, and the entire Collier Sheriff's Office.  

All I have to say is horse therapy, and this brings smiles to so many faces.  Thanks to Missy Saracino and the Naples Equestrian Challenge. Those with dementia have been given this rare opportunity to stand beside these majestic creatures, and care for them.  We have seen such positive results working with the horses.   Thank you Missy.  Thank you Naples Equestrian Challenge. 

The Naples Botanical Gardens has started a Sensory Tour for those with memory issues.  Just being in the gardens is like being in heaven.  The Sensory Tours for those with dementia are designed to bring the senses alive in a feast of colors, aromas, and flavors.  The benefits realized by the patient and caregiver alike are profound.  Thank you Chad Washburn and Linda McDonald for making this outstanding program possible.

We have 4 members of CREW land and water trust here today.   George Luther, Suzie Luther, Deb Hanson and Brenda Brooks have created the Nature's Peace Walk at the Bird Rookery Swamp.   This is a guided walk along part of their beautiful 12 mile boardwalk.  It truly does provide tranquility and peace, and more than a little education and history as well.  Communing with nature in these serene settings has achieved remarkable results.   Thank you CREW.

Dr. Faffer is here from Jewish Family and Community Services.   It has been a pleasure working with Jackie on her successful efforts to bring an annual conference on aging to the community, and successfully opening a thriving senior center. 

For scores of years now the First Presbyterian Church of Naples has allowed us to hold monthly meetings in their Spencer Hall. Their kindness and consideration simply cannot be repaid.  We are so grateful.

Finally, there is nothing like having a fundraiser at a location where in the background monkeys are singing and lions are roaring.  The Naples Zoo has allowed us to have our yearly Elephant Fest fundraiser at the Zoo for the past 22 years.  We would like to thank Nancy Jane and the entire Tetzloff family, as well as Doug, and Courtney who is here today.  It is so hard to be sad and upset when you are in Zoo. Thank you to everyone at the Naples Zoo.

And thank you all.  Collectively, you are the Support Network.  And this award belongs to you.