Weather Forecast


St. Croix Valley Foundation Leaders Forum: building dementia-friendly communities

 A half-day forum focusing on making the St. Croix County area dementia friendly will be held from 8:15 a.m.-11:30 a.m. on Thursday, June 9, at The Phipps Center for the Arts. This forum is designed for elected officials, city administrators, and leaders within the business, education, health care, and faith sectors.

 Every 67 seconds someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s. There are more than five million Americans are currently living with the disease. The disease is on the rise as the baby boom generation ages. Barring a medical breakthrough the number of people with Alzheimer’s disease is expected to triple by 2050 and cost the nation an estimated $1 trillion. And currently, there is no cure.

Based on the overwhelming statistics around Alzheimer’s, the St. Croix Valley Foundation (SCVF) board, staff and community partners agreed that the foundation needed to make programming and funding available to address our aging communities. In the fall of 2015, the SCVF launched The Remember Project -- a pilot project that utilized a unique approach to building awareness and inviting community conversations.

The idea stemmed from a book of three one-act plays titled The MemoryCare Plays (compiled and edited by Dr. Margaret A. Noel) and from the recognition that the arts are a powerful tool for inviting deep and meaningful conversation. Angie Pilgrim, grants and programs officer for the SCVF acknowledges, “It was important to get the right people around the table to address this critical topic in a meaningful and effective way. Local partnerships with the hospitals, care facilities, ADRC of St. Croix County, and the Alzheimer’s Association were invaluable in the planning and implementation of The Remember Project. In addition, volunteers Judy Freund and Danette Olsen worked tirelessly to conceive of the program concept and share their professional expertise to make this ambitious project possible.”

Over the course of the fall, 15 different communities hosted 33 events, with over 1,000 attendees total. Each event started with a play, performed by a professional, traveling cast “that highlighted the issues families face when a loved one suffers from dementia.” Audience members watched the play and participated in a discussion about what they saw and have experienced in their own lives.

That important conversation will continue on June 9 as the SCVF hosts a Leaders Forum at The Phipps Center for the Arts. The half-day forum is designed specifically for elected officials, city administrators and leaders within the business, education, healthcare and faith sectors. The forum will focus on what needs to happen to make the St. Croix County area dementia friendly, organizers say.

“Our ultimate goal,” said SCVF President Jane Stevenson, “is to assist community leaders who wish to see a dramatic increase in dementia-friendly environments in St. Croix County and the surrounding area. In doing so, individuals and families coping with severe memory loss will have greater awareness about options for dealing with the significant challenges of dementia.”

“The statistics and the stigma around Alzheimer’s disease are staggering,” said Pilgrim. “We believe it is extremely important that our St. Croix Valley communities address the isolation and fear associated with dementia and begin making decisions about the future.”

This SCVF initiative has philanthropic support from The Helen Daniels Bader Fund of Bader Philanthropies, Inc., Hugh J. Andersen Foundation, Christian Community Homes and Services Foundation, James H. and Judith A. Freund Fund of the Hudson Community Foundation, an affiliate of the SCVF for their support of The Remember Project in the St. Croix Valley.

Since 1995, the SCVF has enhanced the quality of life in the St. Croix Valley Region by helping people leave a financial legacy to forever support the places and programs they love; wisely investing individual, family and organizational funds entrusted to its care; awarding grants to support the work of charitable organizations; and convening individuals and organizations to find solutions to community concerns. The foundation has ten affiliated foundations that help it in serving Burnett, Pierce, Polk and St. Croix counties in Wisconsin and Chisago and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

For more information about the Leaders Forum and the St. Croix Valley Foundation contact Pilgrim at (715) 386-9490 or email her at 

Meg Heaton

Meg Heaton has been a reporter with the Hudson Star Observer since 1990. She has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and Native American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

(715) 808-8604