A couple hours off may not seem like much to many. But to someone caring for an Alzheimer's patient, the simple act of carving out time to take a shower or run to the grocery store requires precision – and a lot of help from an extended support system. If they're lucky enough to have one.
To help make a difference in the lives of local families who have been affected by Alzheimer's and dementia, the staff of the Observer-Reporter has launched a fundraising initative linked to the yearlong special reporting project, “No Longer Me.”
The newspaper has partnered with the Washington County Community Foundation and the Community Foundation of Greene County to establish charitable funds connected to the project. At the culmination of the series, all money raised will be divided between the Alzheimer's Association Greater Pennsylvania Chapter and Southwestern Pennsylvania Area Agency on Aging to support Alzheimer's patients and caregivers in the two-county area.
“We decided to raise money for these agencies because we felt both would have a meaningful impact on families and especially caregivers dealing with this terrible disease,” said Lucy Corwin, director of news for the newspaper.
“We're happy to once again partner with community foundations in Washington and Greene counties to help raise funds for this worthwhile cause. The Observer Publishing Co. supports this great effort by the news staff and hopes the community will join us in donating money.”
The Alzheimer's Association will use its share of the money for care consultation services and community education in Washington and Greene counties.
Clay Jacobs, vice president of programs and services for the Greater Pennsylvania Chapter, estimates that 2,100 residents in the two-county area will receive services from the Alzheimer's Association this year. Those services include assisting families with action plans, resources and referrals, as well as providing emotional support. Part of that support comes through the agency's Helpline, which fielded 200 calls from local families last year. The Helpline – 800-272-3900 – answers 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and is manned by trained specialists.
The Area Agency on Aging will use its portion of the money to fund respite care “wishes.” Case managers will determine where needs exist to grant “wishes,” which can range from paying for a package of adult diapers to defraying the cost of an afternoon of adult day care to give a caregiver a much-needed break.
Kristen Jackson, supervisor of the agency's Family Caregiver Support Program, said 135 local families remain on a waiting list for related services.
As part of the No Longer Me project, the newspaper will host a purse auction Nov. 7 at The Meadows Casino. Last year, the event raised more than $10,000 for the newspaper's 2013 initiative, “No Place to Call Home” series on homelessness in Washington and Greene counties. More than $23,000 was raised throughout the year and distributed to agencies in the two-county area that provide services to the homeless and those at risk of becoming homeless.
To donate to the No Longer Me fund in Washington County, visit the Washington County Community Foundation's website at http://www.wccf.net/, click “Donate Now” and then “No Longer Me: Alzheimer's Fund.” Or, click on the fund link at http://www.wccf.net/for-donors/list-of-funds/fund-detail/?fund_id=219/.
To donate to the Community Foundation of Greene County, visit the foundation's website at http://cfgcpa.org/ and click the “Donate Now” button, or use the direct link to the online giving portal: https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/cfgcpa?code=homepage/.
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