Chicago Association for Retarded Citizens plans to merge with Clear-
brook, an Arlington Heights, Ill., organization. Both groups serve develop-
mentally disabled children and adults.
Children for Children, a New York organization that provides volunteer and
educational programs for youths, has merged with the HandsOn Network,
an Atlanta group and an affiliate of the Points of Light Foundation that
matches people with volunteer opportunities associated with causes they
Contemporary American Theatre Company and Phoenix Theatre for Chil-
dren, both in Columbus, Ohio, plan to merge next year and will operate un-
der the former’s name.
Greater Richmond Stop Child Abuse Now and Richmond Court Appointed
Special Advocates, both in Virginia, plan to merge. Both organizations
seek to help abused and neglected children.
Gulf of Maine Research Institute, a marine-research organization, and
the Gulf of Maine Ocean Observing System, both in Portland, have
I Do Foundation, a Washington organization that helps engaged couples
raise money for charity in lieu of receiving wedding gifts, has merged with
JustGive, a San Francisco group that connects people who want to donate
online to charities and causes of their choice.
Insight, a substance-abuse-treatment and mental-health organization in
Flint, Mich., has merged with Hope Network, a Grand Rapids, Mich., group
that serves people with developmental disabilities.
San Diego Humane Society and the North County Humane Society, in
Oceanside, Calif., plan to merge by the end of the year. The combined
group’s new name will be San Diego Humane Society and SPCA.
Variety Health Center and Oklahoma Community Health Services, both
in Oklahoma City, have merged. The new organization is called Variety
—Compiled by Maria Di Mento
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HOSPITAL SISTERS HEALTH
Using the Power of Art to Bring Back Memories
and Spark Ideas for Alzheimer’s Patients
By Nicole Wallace
TUESDAYS ARE QUIET at he Museum of Modern Art, the one day each
week that the New York institution is closed to the public.
But one Tuesday afternoon
a month, small groups move
through the empty galleries
to look at and discuss works
The exclusive tours are
not for scholars or visiting
dignitaries, but for people in
the early or middle stages of
Alzheimer’s disease and the
family members who take
care of them.
“What’s wonderful is that
a work of art doesn’t require
short-term memory,” says
Francesca Rosenberg, director of community and access
programs at the museum.
“It’s there in front of the participants. They’re able to talk
about it and interpret the
work, right then and there.”
For people with Alzheimer’s disease or other types
of dementia, the Meet Me
at MoMA program provides
mental stimulation and an
opportunity to express themselves, socialize, and tap into
long-term memories, says Ms.
During one tour led by Ms.
Rosenberg, in the midst of
a discussion of a Marc Chagall painting, a man with
Alzheimer’s disease talked
about the Jewish cemetery
where his grandmother was
buried. The man’s wife later
said that she had never heard
that story before.
“It’s really the Chagall
painting that brought that
memory up for him,” says Ms.
People with Alzheimer’s disease—and those who
care for them—gather at the Museum of Modern Art,
where the collection encourages new connections.
The program doesn’t rely
simply on such stories, however, to prove its value. The
New York University School
of Medicine studied the effort
and found that it improved
the moods of both people with
dementia and their caregivers. It also increased self-esteem among participants
with dementia while decreasing caregivers’ sense of isolation.
The MetLife Foundation,
in New York, has awarded
$850,000 over four years for
the MoMA Alzheimer’s Project, an effort to spur programs like Meet Me at MoMA
at museums nationwide. Educators from the Museum of
Modern Art have traveled
across the country to conduct free seminars and in-person training sessions, and
the museum has developed a
guide to getting started.
So far, 30 museums have
started or are planning programs to make art accessible
to people with dementia and
their caregivers, including
the Virginia Museum of Fine
Arts, in Richmond, and the
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
The Meet Me at MoMA program grew out of three years
of research, interviews with
people who have Alzheimer’s
disease, and testing to develop the right teaching strategies.
Each month, about 100
people sign up for the tours,
which last roughly an hour
and a half and focus on four or
five pieces that share a common theme. To create a nonthreatening atmosphere that
encourages discussion, groups
are limited to no more than
16 participants—eight people
with dementia and eight caregivers. Wheelchairs, portable
stools, and listening devices
are available for anyone who
Educators approach Meet
Me at MoMA in much the
same way they do any tour
they give at the museum, says
Amir Parsa, one of the museum’s educators and manager of the MoMA Alzheimer’s
For each work of art that
the group considers, educators provide information
about the artist and the time
period when the work was
created, and then they ask
the group questions about
what they see and how they
Mr. Parsa will often start
with an open-ended question,
such as “Does this painting
suggest a certain season?”
Ninety percent of the time, he
says, that will get the conversation started.
“But if nobody answers, I
might say, ‘Do you think that
this scene reminds you of
spring or summer?’” he says.
“And if I still see nobody’s
really responding, I might
say, ‘Does this painting suggest summer in any way?’”
Mr. Parsa encourages participants to share any stories
they want to tell, even if they
don’t seem to be directly related to the piece.
“The tangential comments,
the personal connections, the
narratives that will unfold in
that group are more important than the information I
might give about Salvador
Dali,” he says.
The arts can play a vital
role in healthy aging, improving older people’s physical and
emotional health and helping
them build stronger social
networks, says Gay Hanna,
executive director of the National Center for Creative Aging, a Washington group that
promotes arts programs designed for older adults.
Too often, she says, people
think about aging in terms
of disease and the physical
and cognitive losses that age
often brings, without considering what older people can
still contribute. But programs
like the one at the Musem of
Modern Art help change that
“The patient becomes a person again, and the caregiver
sees that person,” says Ms.
Hanna. “They actually have
time that is spent not dwelling on the infirmity, but really being active and part of the
greater life stream.”