Since inception, the Longboat Island Chapel, an interfaith church, has focused on spirituality and establishing outreach programs.
Two years ago, in conjunction with Sarasota Memorial Hospital Memory Disorder Clinic, a memory loss clinic was held at the church. It was so well attended, two more were held. The project is ongoing, and sessions are scheduled at regular intervals.
These events, in addition to the programs already underway conducted by MiMi Horwitz, pastoral-care assistant, have led to the creation of a new project, The Aging in Paradise Resource Center.
“The plan is to renovate the 6,000-square-foot second floor of the chapel into a safe, caring environment for ongoing education, support, service and enrichment with the primary focus on the areas of memory loss, grief, care giving, prevention and socialization,” said the Rev. Ken Gill. “This will enable those in our local community to live with as much dignity and health quality as possible.”
Gill said the church’s present programs will continue, and the chapel hopes to expand its services to include programs such as music, art therapy, pet therapy and educational presentations.
Shifting Sands is one of the ongoing programs. Led by Horwitz, the group meets twice a week: at 11:30 a.m. Tuesdays and at 3 p.m. Thursdays. Participants come together to share their common feelings, which helps them realize that they are not alone.
Horwitz also developed a Memory Loss Caregivers group, which meets every other Wednesday.
”It is important that the caregiver realizes that he or she is not alone,” Hurwitz said.
Working closely with the Aging in Paradise project is congregation member Janet Schaberg. A former resident of Port Washington, Long Island, N.Y., she was the motivator of a similar project there.
“The resources are available now, but we need to gather it all in one place and to provide hands-on support,” Schaberg said.
The renovation for the center includes an elevator and handicap-accessible bathrooms. Because the space would be divded, caregivers would be able to meet in one area while their loved ones were involved in art therapy or music therapy.
Estimated cost for the renovation is approximately $185,000.
Committee member Hugh Joyner said a wine tasting at Harry’s to kick off the campaign would take place Dec. 17.
A target date for opening the Aging in Paradise Center is summer 2010.
“We are blessed in having a congregation with a wealth of experiences and a willingness to share,” Gill said.
The committee stressed the center will not be competing with existing organizations but is an attempt to partner with agencies and individuals to find ways to create and implement programs that improve the minds, body and spirit, especially for groups and individuals transitioning as they age. Call 383-6491 for more information.
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