Via a testimonial on the Alzheimer's Family Organization website, one caregiver client credits the organization with changing her life.
"I now have the courage to go on," she wrote, "no matter where life takes me."
Yet without immediate and critical donations, the AFO itself will not go on.
The mission of the Alzheimer's Family Organization is: "For all those with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, and their caregivers, to have a better quality of life." For the past 20 years, this nonprofit agency has provided a full spectrum of services to families touched by Alzheimer's in eight Tampa Bay counties. Their services include caregiver learning, caregiver companion newsletter, pardon my companion cards, respite care financial reimbursement program, wanderer's reunification program, speaking engagements, and support groups.
"It’s hard to say exactly how many caregivers we provide services for, but we have approximately 45 support groups and typically 15 educational events per year providing support and resources," said executive director Kathleen Winters. "That does not include the calls, walk-ins, and home visits that are done with families. If I were to guess, in total, pretty close to 1,000."
And each year, the organization is supported by a schedule of fundraisers to facilitate these programs.
Fundraisers that, in the midst of a global pandemic, could not be conducted this year.
"As I reach out to you today, it is with great despair," wrote Kathleen Winters in a fundraising appeal letter, "as the AFO is in a critical state financially due to COVID-19."
"As the virus has hurt many companies, families, and organizations, we are no different," Winters wrote. "We had five major fundraisers planned and had to cancel each of them."
So what will happen if immediate funding is not provided?
"We have our services in place, but soon we will have no staff to provide these services," wrote Winters. "Without your support and generosity, the AFO will need to close the doors by Christmas."
To stretch any remaining funds, “the organization has decided to close the brick and mortar office building in Spring Hill, which will allow staff to continue to do the work needed to support caregivers,” explains a related news release.
To Kathleen Winters, her position at the AFO is far more than a job.
"Providing the needed resources, support, education, and coaching to caregivers holds a personal place in my heart," she said. "If these types of services were available to my family when my Aunt was diagnosed years ago, that journey through the disease would have been so much better for her, as well as for my uncle and cousins.”
Now, as her organization faces a perilous time, she fears for other caregivers.
"Caregivers rely so much on the services of the AFO, that if we have to close the organization, they will lose crucial support services that help them cope with the day to day challenges of providing care for their loved ones with dementia," said Winters. "Caregivers will feel abandoned if the AFO has to close our organization.”
To support the Alzheimer's Family Organization, donate online at https://alzheimersfamily.org/donate-to-afo/ or become an AFO paid member at https://alzheimersfamily.org/become-a-member/. For more information about mailing donation checks, mail them to Alzheimer's Family Organization, 461 Mariner Boulevard, Spring Hill, FL 34609, or visit https://alzheimersfamily.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/halfsheet2020.pdf. To inquire about other ways to help, contact AFO at 352-616-0170 or [email protected].
"It is our time, as the helpers," said Winters, "to ask for help."