Newly renovated Alzheimer Society of Oxford is designed to soothe

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Soft pastel hues, handmade quilts and paintings of changing Oxford County seasons by local artist Cathy Groulx soften the fresh paint and modern decor.

At the newly renovated Alzheimer Society of Oxford, located on the Peel Street, the idea is provide a tranquil environment where those with Alzheimer's disease and their families can come for help.

"When people visit our office, often times it is a difficult thing to do," explained executive director Shelley Green. "We try to put people at the ease. We tried to make it homey and calming."

The new facility, named Forget Me Not House, was on display to the public during an open house and ribbon cutting on Wednesday.

"We've been looking at a space crisis for a long time. We looked at and carefully considered a number of different options," Green explained. "It was found that an addition to the building was the most affordable option and would not jeopardize our programs and services."

Their capital campaign raised a total of $376,000, the extra $26,000 over and above their goal allowed the society to complete extra projects such as landscaping and retrofitting their porch.

The addition now means more offices and space for volunteers, a larger workroom, and a small kitchen, meeting and storage room in the basement.

"We were at a point we only had one room to meet with clients; there were times we had to have people come back to meet with us," she said. "We welcome scheduled visits but also welcome people walking in to get support and information."

The Alzheimer Society is largely dependent on fundraising efforts such as January's tri-city Walk for Memories due to the fact that only 61% of their budget comes from the South West Local Health Integration Network.

Green said because the new facility is free and clear of a mortgage or rent, "the money we now raise goes to client services.

The road to the new and improved Alzheimer Society began in 2009 when the society was approved for a government grant of $1 million for an entirely new facility.

But with just 10 days to put the proposal together, the society began to have second thoughts about the new building after they were approved.

"After a few months of careful analysis and assessment, it was clear we couldn't take on the project without jeopardizing our program and services to our clients," Green said when the capital campaign ended last year with a grant of $30,000 from Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada. "We went back to the drawing board to look at possible solutions. This was one we could afford."

The capital campaign, which began in late 2012, also received a $113,000 contribution from the Ontario Trillium Foundation and $50,000 donation from Dennis and Joan Vollmershausen.

heather.rivers@sunmedia.ca

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