Posted by Donna Magnasco

Memory Cafe participantsAs Neil Diamond sang, "It's a beautiful noise."

I have been with JF&CS for 24 years, so I am no stranger to the wonderful things that this agency does. Recently, however, I experienced the JF&CS Memory Café for adults with Alzheimer's/dementia and their care partners for the first time. Hosted at JF&CS Headquarters in Waltham, the very first feeling I had when I walked into the event was an overwhelming sense of joy, not necessarily emanating from me but from the participants. I soon was swept up by the exhilarating feelings that were generating throughout the room.

My mother was stricken with early onset Alzheimer's disease at the age of 47 and suffered a rapid decline but survived until she died of complications of the disease at the age of 67. I wish there had been a Memory Café for her, for me, for my siblings, for her own siblings, and for her very own cognizant mother. We ceased feeling any sense of joy after her diagnosis, and we didn't know how to tap into the inner being of my mother. It was a very sad time for all of us. What I witnessed at the JF&CS Memory Café was not what I was used to when interacting with people with Alzheimer's. It was not sad and depressing: it was joyful, not just for those suffering from memory loss but also for their caregivers. There was joyful noise and joyful movement. Participants sang and danced, some standing, some sitting, and all feeling safe and happy. What an amazing feeling.

I work for a truly wonderful agency.

Donna MagnascoDonna Magnasco is the Senior Vice President of Human Resources. She has worked at JF&CS for twenty four years and still feels incredibly fortunate to work at a place that is focused on improving lives. Prior to joining JF&CS, she worked in human resources for an electronics company and attended business school in the Boston area.