Riverside CEALH Wins Award for Williamsburg Memory Cafe
From left to right: Joan Marshall, Community and CEALH volunteer; Denise Butler, CEALH Geriatric Assessment Coordinator; Laurie Padgett, Peninsula Agency on Aging; Marjorie Hilkert, Community and CEALH volunteer; Judy Allison, Community volunteer. Not pictured: John Broadwater, community volunteer; Gary Loyd, community volunteer; Ellen Greene, St. Timothy's Lutheran Church, Norfolk; Gary Davis, Community volunteer.

Williamsburg, Va.Riverside Center for Excellence in Aging and Lifelong Health (CEALH) is pleased to announce that its innovative Williamsburg Memory Café was presented with the 2018 Best Practices Award by the Southern Gerontological Society (SGS). The award, which honors significant contributions to the field of aging and the development of gerontology in the South, was presented to the Williamsburg Memory Café at SGS’ Annual Meeting in April in Georgia.

The Williamsburg Memory Café provides a safe and informal environment where people with memory loss and their care partners can laugh, learn and remain socially engaged with others traveling the same journey. Offered free of charge to attendees, the Café is hosted by trained volunteers and created through a partnership between CEALH and the Peninsula Agency on Aging.

To receive the 2018 Best Practices Award, the Café met several key criteria, including demonstrating an innovative and creative linkage with the aging services network, significant involvement in aging services within the SGS region, and evidence of sustained effort and substantial impact on improving the quality of life of older adults.

Denise Butler, MA, CSA, and Riverside Geriatric Assessment Coordinator, accepted the award on behalf of the Williamsburg Memory Café organization, which received multiple letters of recommendation during the nomination process.

“The Williamsburg Memory Café is a simple concept, yet it continues to provide so much for a population of people who are often forgotten,” wrote a caregiver who attended Memory Café meetings with his wife who was living with dementia. “She loved being with this group of people that showed her so much care and acceptance. The meetings also gave me a chance to talk with others and learn from their experience.”

In another letter of support, a wife struggling with her dementia diagnosis described how well the non-structured environment of the Café served her and her husband.

“For us, it is a great place to leave your worries at the door, relax and socialize,” she explained. “We talk about vacations, restaurants and wineries. We laugh and we cry. We’ve made new friends.”

Sessions take place twice a month in two different convenient settings in the Greater Williamsburg area. One offering is in the morning and the other is in the afternoon for maximum flexibility, and RSVPs are not required. Careful consideration was given to session dates and time to best meet the needs of participants and avoiding conflicts with respite programs, caregiver support groups. Volunteer time commitments are also factored.

The Williamsburg Memory Café is very popular. Average attendance has grown dramatically over the past two years and organizers received numerous requests to offer a second day of the month because for many this is their only socialization opportunity.

“The Greater Williamsburg area clearly is dedicated to the Williamsburg Memory Café, making it welcoming and helpful to persons dealing with memory loss and their families,” said Christy Jensen, PD, Director of Health Services Research at CEALH. “We are honored to receive this Best Practices Award and so thankful for the support of our volunteers, partners and sponsor who make the Café possible.”

To learn more about the Williamsburg Memory Café and other Riverside CEALH programs, visit riversideonline.com/cealh.

Published: May 24, 2018