News From Your Neighbors – Neighbors Who Care, Inc

When good things become great

Neighbors Who Care is proud to be a founding partner of Creative Engagement Partners, the coalition of community leaders that was established to enrich the lives of family members of people living with Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and memory impairment. The coalition currently is experiencing a metamorphosis. As the popularity of the programs created over recent years has increased, Wayne Mangold, Sun Lakes Creative Engagement Partners (SLCEP) founder, knew more was needed if the group was going to continue to expand its reach and strength.

In the last two years, a coalition was assembled to duplicate a movement happening in Tempe and other areas of the country. This movement includes supplying cognitive engagement opportunities to people living with various forms of dementia and memory loss. These programs, including the music therapy program established a few years ago and a new program known as the Memory Cafe, have taken off. Both programs are designed for both caregivers and their partners to eliminate the feelings of isolation and loneliness when these diagnoses occur.

This spring, the SLCEP began a series of changes to promote long-term growth and sustainability. First, the board changed the name to Creative Engagement Partners, as the reach for volunteers and participants has expanded beyond the Sun Lakes community. The next order of business was to receive IRS approval as a 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofit organization, allowing donations to be tax deductible under both federal and Arizona law. We are hoping to also achieve qualification for the Arizona Charitable Organization Tax Credit by late 2019, which will make donations eligible for a dollar-for-dollar tax credit on Arizona income taxes.

Creative Engagement Partners has evolved from the organization created in July of 2016 to offer music therapy and CARES. (cognitive engagement and support group). CARES was later replaced by the Memory Café. The Memory Café joined the music therapy program in spring of 2018 with a cadre of volunteers in place to welcome care partners living with dementia-related diseases and their spouses or caregivers. In the last year, participants have developed a family of friends who can help support each other and provide new socialization opportunities outside of the programs. The support of the community and Cottonwood Palo Verde Foundation has provided these programs a chance to gain widespread popularity and flourish.

The East Valley Memory Café now meets weekly at Sun Lakes United Methodist Church on the first four Mondays of each month (except on Monday holidays). Each session begins at 9:30 a.m. with coffee and treats. Then, from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m., the loved one providing care joins other spouses, friends and children for a support group session with facilitators, and the care partners receive a themed activity led by a skilled volunteer. All sessions are free of charge (except for TaiChiEZ on the fourth Monday, which is $5 per person).

For more information about Creative Engagement Partners, the music therapy program and the Memory Café, visit