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Memory Matters first recipient of donation from new charity

Brunswick News - 1/31/2020

Jan. 31--Bright red paper hearts were carefully positioned in the doorways and windows of the ranch home located at 2803 Sherwood Drive in Brunswick. One of the pieces of decor was emblazoned with a simple sentiment: "Love Each Moment."

And that is precisely the mission behind the nonprofit housed here, Memory Matters. The organization offers engaging and interactive programing for those suffering from memory impairment, as well as support for their loved ones and caregivers.

The 501c3 began life as Alzheimer's of Glynn in 1999 but evolved to include programs for all illness -- based memory loss, including traumatic brain injuries, as well as dementia. Their headquarters, adjacent to the hospital, serves as a place of learning and respite with regularly scheduled activities including games, puzzles, art and music.

The two-person team -- Melissa O'Halloran, executive director, and Ayla Wilson, program and activities administrator -- approach each day with sincere compassion and unbridled enthusiasm. Of course, managing their work with a grant-dependent budget is always challenging. That's why the two were thrilled to hear that Memory Matters was to be the recipient of a sizable first donation from a new local charity, 100 Women Who Care.

The founding members include Sandy Metzer, Susan Mundy, Catherine Wood, Melissa Stroud and Cathy Foley. The women formed the program based on a simple framework already established in other areas.

"Susan (Metzger) heard about it a group in Michigan so she got the five of us together about four or five months ago," Susan Mundy explained.

The no-muss, no fuss approach to giving appealed to all of the women. One hundred women agree to make a $100 donation four times a year, a total for $400 annually. The group gathers at a meeting every few months to hear about three local charities nominated by members. After a five-minute presentation about each, the women vote on the winner, sign checks (made directly to the selected nonprofit) and are out the door.

The founding members sent out invitations to the inaugural meeting, held Jan. 14 at the Lodge on St. Simons Island. And the response was pretty impressive -- standing room only, in fact.

"We actually had 170 women who came. It's just been incredible. We have more women who are interested in joining, as well," Mundy said.

Those who were at the first meeting chose Memory Matters to be the recipient of the $17,000 donation. Other proposed charities included Pillow Grace's recently established 501c3 and Centered for Life, a Christian-based counseling center on St. Simons Island.

For founding member, Melissa Stroud, who works in the local nonprofit sector, seeing such a substantial first donation is encouraging.

"The response to this has just been overwhelming. These nonprofits work so hard for every dollar that they get. We are just really excited about the difference and impact that one hour was able to make in our community," Stroud said.

On Thursday morning, several of the founding members visited the nonprofit to get a first-hand look at what they do and present the check. For O'Halloran, the moment was surreal, one that brought tears to her eyes.

"This is just unbelievable. We've never had a donation of this size ... it's definitely a first of its kind," she said, beaming.

But she and Wilson have wasted no time in making plans for how to best use the funds. It's going right back into programming to help those with memory loss to learn, grow and thrive.

"We are planning on doing a multi-cultural day, which will be a full immersion with music and food. Our families love to learn and they will just love that," O'Halloran said.

"We are also looking at more ways for them to explore the senses. So we will be adding programs that focus on smell, touch, taste, sight and sound. We also want to introduce a generational programming that gets local students involved, which is something our intern Cassie is heading up. We're just really excited and very grateful."

--For more information about 100 Women Who Care, visit www.100womenwhocaressi.com. To learn more about Memory Matters, visit www.memorymattersglynn.com.

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(c)2020 The Brunswick News (Brunswick, Ga.)

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