White Oak residents raise money for Foothills Dementia/Alzheimer’s Support Group

Published 11:37 am Friday, December 23, 2022

TRYON–Each year, the residents of the White Oak retirement community in Tryon choose a nonprofit to raise money for. This year, their choice was Foothills Dementia/Alzheimer’s Caregivers Support Group, a 501c3 charity founded by the residents. Together, they raised $2,595, and White Oak matched that amount, bringing the total raised for the charity to $5,190.

The Group was created earlier this year to provide support for caregivers of loved ones who suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s. Founded by residents Peggie Wyllie, Becky Collins, and other residents, with backing from Donna Carson of the Meeting Place, it provides caregivers a space to meet and share while their loved ones are appropriately supervised in the next room. Since the group’s creation, they have helped to share information on subjects ranging from care options to future planning. They have also created new programs, which the funds raised will help support. 

One of the new programs beginning in February will offer caregivers an opportunity to take a two-hour break twice a month to go shopping or visit with friends while their loved one is taken care of. They have also come up with unique ideas that can be utilized by the community as a whole, such as creating a visual registry with Polk County Sheriff’s Department to aid anyone who might go missing, and “scent kits” that will help tracking dogs find someone that may have wandered off and gotten lost. 

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“I had a friend dealing with a loved one in the early stages, and after some research, we discovered there wasn’t any help,” Peggy Wyllie, who founded the program at age 90, explains. “So we put a wonderful team together, made up of residents, and had our first meeting in January this year. Since then, we’ve been working with the wonderful folks at the Meeting Place and White Oak to develop ideas and programs that will help the caregivers in Polk and Landrum.” 

“We’re here for the caregivers to help them cope and give them a much-needed respite,” Becky Collins adds. “We have also been able to educate them on the resources available from the county and state.” 

Harrison Cecil, Administrator of White Oak, praised the initiative. 

“I spend a great deal of my time training and learning how to deal with dementia and Alzheimer’s patients,” Cecil said. “And they’ve come up with new ideas that I’ve never heard and will be bringing back to my work here at White Oak.”

White Oak Apartment Manager Rita Motter applauded the residents for their work. 

“This is truly a fantastic group of residents, including a doctor, a lawyer, and other folks with impressive backgrounds,” Motter shared. “Together they have done the work so others in the future don’t have to.”

For those interested in learning more about Foothills Dementia/ Alzheimer’s Support Group and its programs, contact  Peggy Wyllie at (929) 859-6339