As plans pivot, community members get creative for the longest day

Traditionally, leading up to and culminating on June 20 – the summer solstice and the day with the most light – people from across the world have come together for The Longest Day to fight the darkness of Alzheimer’s through a fundraising activity of their choice. This year, participants are transforming their plans and will host a virtual event or choose a safe social distancing activity to shine a light on the more than 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease and the more than 16 million family members and friends providing care and support. In North Carolina alone, there are more than 180,000 people living with Alzheimer’s and 479,000 family members and friends caring for them.

All About Seniors and Brookdale Senior Living Solutions are no strangers to the fight to end Alzheimer’s. Both companies and their staff have been actively involved as sponsors, fundraisers, and volunteers for the Alzheimer’s Association for many years. So when the COVID-19 pandemic forced them to shift their plans, the two organizations got creative. Many of the fundraising events they have organized together have been in-person crafting or shopping experiences. From that, this year’s fundraiser was born. Two organizations are teaming up this year to host a virtual Sip and Paint Event on Zoom to raise funds and awareness for the care, support and research efforts of the Alzheimer’s Association. We got together with the organizers to share a bit about their planning process in hopes of inspiring others to turn their passion into action!

Who’s Who:
Michele Cook – All About Seniors
Ashley Bourke – Brookdale Senior Living Solutions, South Park
Meghan Knight – Brookdale Senior Living Solutions, Carriage Club Providence

Tell me about your connection to the Alzheimer’s Association. What brought you to our chapter?  
Michele- I have been involved with the Alzheimer’s Association for years (20+ since I started working in long term care).  I became involved with the Western Carolina Chapter since I moved to Charlotte in 2011.
Ashley- My personal connection to the disease with my grandma initially pulled me to work in senior living. Sharing her story, being an advocate, and wanting to raise awareness brought me even closer to the chapter.
Meghan-  My grandmother had Alzheimer’s and it is what led me into senior living and helping with the Alzheimer’s Association.

Which part of our mission is most important to you and why?
Michele- I think the support of those living with dementia and their loved ones is first in my heart, but along with that comes education.  Everyone needs to be educated because it will touch each of our lives eventually.  BUT….research is what we need to find a way to cure or better live with the disease.
Ashley – The enhancement of care is one of the most important aspects of the mission to me.  In my personal journey with my grandma, it is so imperative to me that care comes before anything.  This is something I take into my professional space as well and advocating for that with anyone that I meet.   
Meghan – Education– many times people aren’t aware until they have to face [Alzheimer’s].

What inspired you to get involved with The Longest Day? 
Michele- I have used The Longest Day to bring awareness for years, and love that it is a way to raise funds for the Association.
Ashley- I wanted to get involved with The Longest Day because it was such a creative and fun way to raise awareness and educate at the same time. 
Meghan- To support the Alzheimer’s Association and bring awareness.

How did you come up with the idea for your event?  
Michele- I often have Paint & Sip Parties as great FUNdraisers for the Alzheimer’s Association, but that has been impossible during the COVID-19 Pandemic.  We have been having so many Zoom meetings, that this seemed like the perfect solution.  I think it will be fun, safe and still have interaction with others!

How do you inspire others to join you?  
Michele- We are posting the event all over social media, we are sending the invitation via email, SeniorsEngage.com, and announcing it on all of our networking Zoom events.  We picked a simple, but fun painting to do, so everyone can be happy with their outcome, and also, enjoy some FUN with friends virtually and some very special snacks too!

What is your favorite thing about The Longest Day?  
Michele- My favorite thing about the Longest Day is to bring awareness to Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias in a FUN way while raising funds for support and research.
Ashley- I love the [tagline] saying, “the day with the most light is the day we fight”, but I really enjoy the creative aspect.
Meghan- Brings awareness and helps raise money .

If someone else were apprehensive about starting a fundraiser or participating in The Longest Day, what would you say to get them involved? 
Michele- It doesn’t have to be a HUGE event…just have FUN!  Bring awareness, ask for donations, but be sensitive to others, especially during these uncertain times!
Meghan- It can seem overwhelming at first, but once you start planning and partner with others it makes it much easier.

How has your Longest Day planning process changed due to COVID-19 restrictions?  Have you come across (and/or overcame) new challenges?  
Michele- Well, it definitely changed this year due to COVID-19!  Because we have been having so many Zoom calls, overcoming came easy!  We can all be “together” but at a safe, healthy distance with no masks needed!!! (although we will be wearing masks and gloves or using hand-sanitizer as we pack and deliver the bag of supplies and goodies to you)
Meghan- Everything is being done virtually!

Do you have anything else you want to add that I haven’t asked you about? 
Michele- If you are unable to join us at 4:00 on Friday, the 19th of June….we will record the class and you can join us at your leisure.  I will give you my phone number so you can call, text or video chat about your artwork as you paint.

Perhaps you want to join the Sip and Paint Event that All About Seniors and Brookdale Senior Living Solutions are hosting, or maybe this has inspired you to register for The Longest Day and host your own fundaiser. Learn more and explore more creative ideas at alz.org/thelongestday.

Alzheimer’s Association The Longest Day

The Longest Day is the day with the most light — the summer solstice. Thousands of participants from across the world come together to fight the darkness of Alzheimer’s through an activity of their choice. Together, they use their creativity and passion to raise funds and awareness for the care, support and research efforts of the Alzheimer’s Association.

The Longest Day, which has always been a virtual event, is still taking place as planned, culminating on the summer solstice, June 20, 2020. The comfort and safety are of the utmost importance to the Alzheimer’s Association, so we understand if your plans have now changed. As coronavirus (COVID-19) changes many aspects of our daily life, you can still make an impact in the fight against Alzheimer’s by fundraising for The Longest Day. Depending on your situation, The Longest Day could provide a healthy outlet for you and your family during an extended stay at home. For those wishing to explore how you can continue to support The Longest day virtually, reach out to Hannah Litaker at hwlitaker@alz.org or 980.498.7724.

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