The Library Memory Project: The Beginnings

In 2013, a program session on memory cafes was offered at the Wisconsin Library Association Annual Conference held in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The conference program was titled ‘Memory cafes: support groups with a social twist.’ It was jointly presented by Nicole Hardina-Wilhelm, Assistant Director, Neenah Public Library; Betty Lefevre-Hill, MSE and Fox Valley Memory Project Program Coordinator; Dr. Susan H. McFadden, Professor of Psychology, UW-Oshkosh; and John McFadden, Chaplain, Memory Care Unit, Appleton Health Center.

Judy Gunkel shares info about the Alzheimer’s Association
Alzheimer’s Association of Southeastern Wisconsin Shares Information with the Audience

The librarians who attended the program thought that this was something that could be implemented in Waukesha County. Fast forward a year and the Waukesha County Federated Library System (now named the Bridges Library System as of 1/1/2016) hosted a meeting with featured guest Nicole Hardina-Wilhelm, Assistant Director of Neenah Public Library, for a discussion on memory cafes. Through a connection at the Alzheimer’s Association of Southeastern Wisconsin, we had several guests at our meeting from the Alzheimer’s Association, memory ministry teams from nearby churches, and a few couples that attend a memory cafe in the area. A few others joined Nicole at the front of the room to talk about memory loss, memory cafes in general and how they have a positive impact on people’s lives.