2021 Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Santa Barbara at Chase Palm Park.
2021 Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Santa Barbara at Chase Palm Park. (Photo Credit: Fritz Olenberger.)

Start the giving season off strong by donating to a local nonprofit organization in Santa Barbara County on #GivingTuesday, November 29th!

With your support these nonprofits can continue to thrive and serve those who need their services the most. This is why Noozhawk has re-launched its annual Good for Santa Barbara Section, so that finding a cause you connect with is made easy and donation information is readily available!

In this interview, Noozhawk spoke with Janelle Boesch, Communications Manager for Alzheimer’s Association California Central Coast Chapter to learn more about how they lead the way to end Alzheimer’s and all other dementia.

Alzheimer’s Association California Central Coast Chapter

Question: What is the name & mission of your nonprofit?

Answer: We are the Alzheimer’s Association California Central Coast Chapter. The Association’s mission is to lead the way to end Alzheimer’s and all other dementia — by accelerating global research, driving risk reduction and early detection, and maximizing quality care and support. 

Q: How long has your nonprofit been in service and whom was it started by?

Dementia caregivers connect with one another through an Alzheimer’s Association support group.

Dementia caregivers connect with one another through an Alzheimer’s Association support group. (Alzheimer’s Association California Central Coast Chapter)

A: The Alzheimer’s Association was founded in 1980 by a group of family caregivers and individuals who recognized the need for an organization that would unite caregivers, provide support to those facing Alzheimer’s and advance research into the disease.

Jerome H. Stone, a true visionary in the Alzheimer’s movement, was our founding president. 

The Santa Barbara Chapter was founded in 1983, serving Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties. The Ventura County Chapter was formally incorporated and joined the national network of chapters in 1985. These two chapters merged in 2002 to become the California Central Coast Chapter.

Q: What was the inspiration behind your nonprofit?

A: When the founding president’s wife, Evelyn, was diagnosed with the disease in 1970, information about Alzheimer’s — even among the medical community — was limited. With drive and determination, Mr. Stone took a disease that was cloaked in silence and helped to create a global conversation. 

Today, the Association reaches millions of people affected by Alzheimer’s and all other dementia. We are the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research.

Q: How is your nonprofit primarily funded and what are your greatest needs?

A: The Alzheimer’s Association is primarily funded through donor contributions. Our local California Central Coast Chapter receives funding through year-round donations and activities such as our Walk to End Alzheimer’s, The Longest Day and Your Brain Matters Luncheon, in addition to various grants obtained to support our programs department.

We are seeking increased funding and support through all of these activities in order to continue providing free programs at the local level and contribute toward global research for a cure.

Q: In what ways does your nonprofit utilize it’s funding?

A: As a whole, the Alzheimer’s Association utilizes a vast majority of its funding (79%) for Alzheimer’s care, support, research, awareness and advocacy.

Spring Reception and Alzheimer’s Research Update hosted at the Santa Barbara Club.

Spring Reception and Alzheimer’s Research Update hosted at the Santa Barbara Club. (Alzheimer’s Association California Central Coast Chapter)

Locally, our California Central Coast Chapter provides support groups, education classes and care consultations in both English and Spanish. These programs are provided at no cost for families and individuals affected by Alzheimer’s or other dementia.

The Alzheimer’s Association 24/7 Helpline (800.272.3900) is available around the clock, 365 days a year. Through this free service, specialists and master’s-level clinicians offer confidential support and information to people living with dementia, caregivers, families and the public.

As the largest nonprofit funder of Alzheimer’s research, the Association is committed to accelerating the global progress toward methods of treatments, preventions and ultimately, a cure. The Alzheimer’s Association is currently investing more than $310 million in over 950 active best-of-field projects in 45 countries, spanning six continents.

The Association is the leading voice for Alzheimer’s disease advocacy, ensuring that the need for Alzheimer’s care, education and research is heard at every level of government.

Q: What types of fundraisers and/or programs does your nonprofit run?

A: Held annually in more than 600 communities nationwide, the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s® is the world’s largest fundraiser for Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Along the Central Coast, the Walk takes place in Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, San Luis Obispo, Oxnard and Westlake Village every year during the fall.

Throughout the rest of the year, people have the opportunity to turn their passion into a purpose through The Longest Day, a DIY-style fundraiser that culminates on the summer solstice, the day with the most light. Thousands of participants from around the world choose an activity that they love to help raise awareness and funds to shine a light of hope and fight the darkness of Alzheimer’s.

Local program offerings include care consultations, support groups, education classes and resource workshops. These programs are offered in both English and Spanish, including the Alzheimer’s Association 24/7 Helpline (800.272.3900).

Q: How do people get involved/volunteer for your nonprofit?

A: There is a wide variety of volunteer opportunities with the Association, including planning committees for Walk to End Alzheimer’s or The Longest Day, community educators, support group facilitators, and advocates who share our message with elected officials at the federal, state and local levels.

To learn more about these positions and see additional opportunities, please visit alz.org/cacentralcoast/volunteer 

Q: What makes your nonprofit different from others?

A: As the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research, the Alzheimer’s Association is making both a global and local impact on a devastating disease that is affecting over 6 million Americans and their families, one that currently has no cure.

With boots-on-the-ground programs throughout the Central Coast, our chapter strives to make a positive change throughout the communities we serve by educating and raising awareness for the disease and supporting all those navigating the journey of a dementia diagnosis.

Our reach and resources expand beyond the areas we serve, allowing our impact to be maximized through national advocacy efforts and global research.

Q: Can you share one or two stories of individuals whose lives have been changed because of your organization?

A: “My Mom and I met with a representative at the Alzheimer’s Association following my Dad’s diagnosis with Alzheimer’s. We were grateful for the support and guidance, and couldn’t believe all of the services and options available to patients of Alzheimer’s and their families. It was comforting to know that we could receive so much support within our own community.”

– Jennifer Oakley, Montecito Bank & Trust, VP/Branch Manager

“I did not know of the Alzheimer’s Association resources but learned of it when I was at my wits-end. Along with learning about dementia and Parkinson’s disease, I got linked to the Alzheimer’s Association, Central Coast Chapter. These valuable resources helped me as a caregiver to support my dad, brother, and special needs son. Looking back, I couldn’t have had a good outcome mentally, emotionally, and spiritually without the grant and resources I received at the right time. As overwhelmed as I was, because of the support I had from the Alzheimer’s Association, I was also able to come out of a crisis and still be available to help my dad. I also benefited from the Savvy Caregiver Classes where I am learning more about aging and dementia. I am grateful and humbled by how people help each other through foundations, support groups and by sharing their experience and expertise. I have benefited greatly and will look for ways to support these efforts in the future.

– Sylvia Cates

Q: How does the work of your nonprofit get communicated to the public?

A: We are constantly sharing our resources, fundraising events, volunteer opportunities and achievements through our social media channels (@AlzCaCentral) on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. Additionally, we have a weekly e-newsletter for people to see what is going on locally and beyond. You can subscribe at alz.org/enews.

We also secure every opportunity possible to share important events, updates and news through local media, such as Noozhawk. 

Click here to support Alzheimer’s Association California Central Coast Chapter’s mission to find a cure for Alzheimer’s and all other dementia.

Check out Noozhawk’s Guide to Giving for a full list of nonprofits to donate to this giving season.