In 1985, Patsy White, extension agent for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System for Houston County, held a seminar on Alzheimer’s disease. It was the first to be held in this area. At the end of the seminar, it was evident that the participants did not want to leave. They had found other families dealing with a disease that was just coming into the news. There were no books in the library and nowhere to go for help to learn how to care for a loved one with this disease. The families were very happy to find others in their same situation.
These families immediately formed a support group; and, three years later, the Southeast Alabama Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association was chartered. In 1999, the Board of Directors and the members of the Chapter voted to disaffiliate from the national organization.
In 2000, the Alzheimer’s Resource Center was incorporated. The ARC is a local, independent, 501©3, non-profit organization and is not affiliated with any national or state organization. It is a local organization helping local families.
Many of the members of the ARC were members of that very first support group formed in 1985. They are considered to be the first generation of caregivers for Alzheimer patients in our area. The ARC is more like a ministry than a business. Most of the members of the Board of Directors, the Advisory Board and the many wonderful, dedicated volunteers have been affected either directly or indirectly by Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia. They have watched services grow from a one-room donated office in the upstairs of a bank building, to a very small office in the downstairs of the side of an office building to a much larger office in a shopping complex located on Westgate Parkway.
The Alzheimer’s Resource Center is the one central location where families and caregivers can go for educational materials and emotional support. Each spring the ARC sponsors an educational conference for both family and professional caregivers. Teepa Snow, Jolene Brackey, Dr. Daniel Potts, Dr. Richard Powers and Dr. David Geldmacher are some of the speakers from past conferences.
This small organization has the backing of many families and businesses not only in Dothan, but also in southeast Alabama and parts of the panhandle of Florida, most of whom have had or are currently caring for a loved one. These families and businesses come together to support our annual fundraising event, “A Walk to Remember”, making it possible for us to continue our goal of “Sharing the Care”.