Dementia Friendly Saline Hosts Holiday Arts and Crafts Show for Caregivers, Loved Ones, and Community


Dementia Friendly Saline held its first arts and crafts show recently at First United Methodist Church. Partnering with University Living, the event was open to caregivers and their people for an afternoon of holiday music, snacks, and shopping in a relaxed and welcoming environment.

“From the time we opened until the end, there has been a steady flow of people coming to this event,” said Jim Mangi, program organizer. “It has been exactly as we hoped. It is a mixture of persons who themselves are living with dementia and their caregivers, and other people from the general community coming to this event. And everybody has enjoyed the wide variety of artists they had to choose from. I’ve seen a lot of people leaving with shopping bags full and smiles on their faces.”

Visitors were able to sit and enjoy brain healthy snacks and beverages while listening to holiday music, and then browse the tables where over sixteen artisans had set up their displays.

“Talking to some of the care partners who have come through, they have said it was a wonderful opportunity for them to bring their loved one, to do some shopping without any of the worry, without any fears. It’s a low-key, low-stress, high reward effort,” Mangi said.

Nancy Miller from Salt Valley Arts was one of the vendors. She was selling handcrafted items made from recycled sweaters. Miller heads up a program that makes mittens and distributes them throughout Saline.

“We sold quite a few mittens for Social Services,” Miller said. She was also encouraged by the many people who said they would like to get involved in this community mitten project in 2024.

Tanum Ollila, director of sales at University Living, and Gayle Gandi, memory support manager at University Living, worked with Mangi to host this show.

“The goal was to find an event that we could bring the caregiver and the resident living with brain change together. It gave the opportunity for the care partner to be able to enjoy the event and do some shopping, and it gave us the opportunity to support their loved one with brain change. They could get out, do some shopping, and know that their loved one would enjoy the event as well,” Ollila said.

Residents from University Living, Brecon Village, and Evangelical Homes were able to attend. Curbside valet service was available. Volunteers helped those with memory challenges, guiding them as they transitioned into the hall.

“It was all about making everyone comfortable. This is a first in the Best Life series, and I think it was very successful. We're thinking of doing an even bigger event in the spring of 2024,” Ollila said.

Mangi looks forward to future events for Dementia Friendly Saline and University Living in the new year.

“We have really enjoyed working with them. It has been a great partnership. Based on what we’ve done today, I’m pretty sure we will do this again. It has been very satisfying.”

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