Jim Mangi Receives 2023 Volunteer of the Year Award from LeadingAge Michigan


Saline resident Jim Mangi was the recipient of the 2023 Volunteer of the Year Award from LeadingAge Michigan, an organization that provides mission-driven senior care. The annual conference was held in Kalamazoo this week.

Mangi has been instrumental in establishing Saline as a Dementia-Friendly City. He is also one of the founders of the local Come As You Are Memory Café, and works with the Alzheimer's Association as a volunteer educator. This year, Mangi has helped launch Dementia Friendly Movie Days, partnering with Emagine Theaters to provide a comfortable, entertaining experience to guests and their caregivers.

“Jim is a game changer, a pioneer and a leader,” said Kelly Robertson, marketing director with Evangelical Homes of Michigan. “He gives 110% of himself to anyone and everyone that asks, and even those that can’t ask.”

Mangi’s selfless service made him a natural choice for this award.

“Jim is the humblest person I’ve ever met,” Robertson said. “If you ask him how he’s doing, he’ll reply ‘I’m doing great and getting better.’”

For Mangi, the work that he does for the dementia community is personal.

“I am in my 16th year of the dementia journey, caring for my wife, Kathleen, who has Younger Onset Alzheimer's Disease,” Jim Mangi said. “ When the journey began, I was like all care partners, completely clueless. I had no idea that 5% of persons with Alzheimer’s are under 65 years old. I really didn’t know anything about the disease, or how to take care of my wife. But over the years, I educated myself through reliable sources such as the Alzheimer’s Association, the National Institute of Health, and other resources.”

In November of 2016, Mangi and his wife moved into the condominiums of Brecon Village. When Kathleen needed more care in 2018, she was moved to the nearby Memory Support Center.

“Five years ago, when my wife moved to the Memory Care facility, I learned even more about the disease and about caregiving.”

Mangi now teaches classes on various aspects of the disease and helps families at their various stages of the journey.

“I know that the work we do for persons living with dementia and their care partners is important because they tell me and my colleagues so,” Mangi said. “As one Saline couple dealing with dementia said after attending our Memory Cafe and our Dementia-Friendly Movies, ‘We have so much to look forward to now!’ A spouse said her husband was so happy to feel visible once again, and a daughter thanked us for making her mom feel like she ‘belonged’ once more.”

Mangi noted that the Memory Cafe averages 35 persons for the twice-monthly meetings, and the movies have been averaging over 70 attendees each month.

“We are making a difference in the quality of life for lots of persons dealing with dementia,” he said. “I know from my own experience that this is one of the hardest things any person ever has to do, so I know it is important to help as best I can.”

“I appreciate the great folks of EHM Senior Solutions for nominating me, and the board of LeadingAge Michigan for giving me this honor. But I am just doing what I believe I am supposed to be doing.”

Robertson praised Mangi for his positive attitude.

“Jim is quick to shower you with a smile that spreads from deep within his soul, and equally as quick to lend his ear and shoulder,” she said. “He has never met a stranger and never intends to.”

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