Council hears from memory-loss program director, approves Nick Grants
Published 3:35 pm Thursday, February 17, 2022
By EMILY SPARACINO | Staff Writer
CHELSEA – As Chelsea resident Gina McIntyre talked to the Chelsea City Council on Tuesday, Feb. 15 about the program she oversees at Asbury United Methodist Church, she emphasized its purpose as an outlet for anyone in the community with memory issues.
“We are a social program for people who are experiencing any kind of memory loss,” McIntyre said of Anchor Community Respite Ministry. “We have people who have Alzheimer’s, we have (people who have) Parkinson’s, people who have had a stroke, any kind of memory loss issues.”
Every Tuesday and Thursday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Anchor provides fellowship and activities—anything from puzzles and word searches to balloon volleyball and chair yoga to art and music—in a safe, friendly environment.
The program also gives caregivers a break each week to run errands, visit with friends and rest, among other things.
“I have learned since we started doing this, really not just the people dealing with memory loss but also their caregivers are one of the most isolated groups of people,” McIntyre said. “This has just been so much more than I ever expected.”
The program launched in October 2019, just a few months before the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown.
“We had to close down for a while, but we’re back open,” McIntyre said. “We’ve been open since July, and a lot of people just don’t know we’re there.”
McIntyre said the program’s biggest need currently is more volunteers, who engage with participants in conversation and activities.
“One of the things I love most about our program is the people who just think they’re coming to socialize,” McIntyre said. “We have volunteers and the participants, but everybody does the same thing.”
In addition to the various activities, participants have opportunities to help with mission projects.
“They feel like they’re still giving back to society,” McIntyre said. “They all still have a big purpose, so that’s part of our job—to pull that out of them and help them see that.”
Program participants and volunteers do not have to attend Asbury to be involved with Anchor.
“Even though it’s at Asbury, it’s really a community ministry that we’ve got going,” McIntyre said. “There’s not a lot of programs like this out there.”
The program currently has about 16 participants and space for a couple more.
“Our limit per day is about 18,” McIntyre said, and added she tries to pair volunteers with no more than two participants at a time. “I would really love to open a third day, but that means we’re going to need more volunteers.”
Volunteers are not required to come to every session, McIntyre said. They can come once a week, once a month or as often as their schedules allow.
“When we first started doing this, somebody told me it’s like a ‘friendship revolution,’ but it really is,” McIntyre said. “It’s a great place to come volunteer. Anybody who’s looking for a place to give back and add value to somebody’s life, it’s a good place for that.”
For more information about Anchor Community Respite Ministry, call McIntyre at (205) 529-6353.
In other business, the City Council:
- Voted to award Nick Grant funds to Chelsea’s schools for the following amounts: Chelsea Park Elementary School – $12,964, Chelsea Middle School – $17,344, Chelsea High School – $29,565, Forest Oaks Elementary School – $4,217 and Mt Laurel Elementary School – $14,665.
- Approved a restaurant retail liquor license for Las Mesas.
- Approved a donation to Owens House for $15,000.
- Voted to authorize an agreement with the Shelby County Commission for the installation and maintenance of traffic control signals at the intersection of Shelby County 47 and Shelby County 39.