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Grant Allows Expansion of Memory Loss Resource Centers

Posted: 05/30/2019

Author: Julie Anderson

Category: Departments

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Our mind allows us to dream. It enables us to remember. And, for some, unfortunately, it provides a window for memory loss.

Dawn Dailey, the director of the Douglas County Library, dreamed about opening a Memory Loss Resource Center. She fulfilled that dream in March, creating kits designed to spark memories and filling shelves at the Douglas County library with the kits and additional books and movies designed for those with memory loss. Then she dreamed even bigger, applying for a grant that would allow her to expand the Memory Loss Resource Center concept to other libraries in our region. That dream has also come true.

“I couldn’t believe it,” she said during an interview in late May. “I was screaming.” Screaming with joy — and not in the library where everyone is supposed to keep at least relatively quiet.

But Dailey had every right to share her emotion. She applied for, and received, a $79,885.90 grant through the Minnesota Department of Education’s Library Services and Technology Act Large Grant Opportunity. The official letter is dated May 24.

The money will be used to expand the Memory Loss Resource Center here in Douglas County as well as all interested libraries within the Viking Library System which, in addition to Alexandria, includes: Browns Valley, Elbow Lake, Fergus Falls, Glenwood, Hancock, Morris, New York Mills, Pelican Rapids, Perham and Wheaton.

For those not familiar with the Memory Loss Resource Center concept, it provides opportunities for caregivers, those with memory issues, and their families to check out kits designed to spark conversation and memories. Each kit is unique. It contains items pertaining to fishing, dogs, horses, sewing and farming to name a few topics. The kits contain books, DVDs, CDs, and, most importantly, special items to get the senses going. Maybe a small bag of hay or oats, for example.

Dailey recounts the time she shared the kits with a group that included several men. She showed them the farming memory kit. Before long one of the men recalled milking cows, another chimed in that he had the county’s first bulk tank operation. Pretty soon a third man said he used to haul the milk. 

The kit worked perfectly. It sparked memories that lead to conversation.

With the grant money, the other libraries will be able to choose their own materials for the kits. Dailey says she’s willing to help them get started.

Part of the grant money will also be used to pay for speakers on Alzheimer’s and dementia issues.

Dailey says the center is going very well at the Douglas County Library. The kits are in demand by a wide variety of library members. Those checking them out are asked to fill out a survey and so far, the response has been positive.  

Dailey says the grant money will help meet the demand that’s only expected to increase. She says, “It’s a dream come true to have this for our library and our community.”

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