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.
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.