Kennebunk Post article:
Alzheimers Nonprofit Gets Off the Ground
Sisters found A Place to Start, an organization that offers consultations
By Tracy Orzel
Staff Writer – Kennebunk Post
KENNEBUNK – Sally Tartre and her family have been through a lot. After losing her father to cancer and a brother on 9/11, her mother, Connie Roux, developed symptoms of Alzheimer’s in 2009.
“It’s the only disease that doesn’t have a cure or treatment and it’s like being in hell, really,” said Tartre.
Tartre previously worked at the Kennebunk Land Trust, but left when Roux took a turn for the worst.
After her mother died in December 2011, Tartre began doing advocacy work for the Alzheimer’s Association in Augusta.
Sally Tartre auctioned off four pairs of meet and greets with the Celtics to raise money for her soon to be nonprofit, A Place to Start. She offers consultations to families who are dealing with Alzheimer’s. (Tracy Orzel photo) Sally Tartre auctioned off four pairs of meet and greets with the Celtics to raise money for her soon to be nonprofit, A Place to Start. She offers consultations to families who are dealing with Alzheimer’s. (Tracy Orzel photo) She recently attended the Southern Maine Senior Expo in Freeport, which was attended by 38 businesses in the health care industry, and was also the keynote speaker at the Alzheimer’s Association’s Champion Breakfast in honor of Sen. Margaret Craven’s work fighting the disease.
With her two sisters, Tartre founded A Place to Start. The organization, which officially launched Sept. 26, provides free consultations for family members caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s and dementia.
At the moment, Tartre is building up her client base and relies on recommendations from other organizations and personnel in the health care industry. One such contact is Janice Gravelle, the assistant executive director of Huntington Common.
Tartre met Gravelle when Tartre’s mother was admitted to the facility following her Alzheimer’s diagnosis.
Gravelle said she watched Tartre and her sisters navigate through changes in their mother brought on by Alzheimer’s.
“They were very dedicated sisters. They were all very involved and passionate and even when they had differences it was always about mom, so that’s what was nice to watch.”
Roux began her stay in Independent Living, before moving to Assisted Living and finally Reminiscence, a special neighborhood for residents with Alzheimer’s.
Gravelle thinks A Place to Start’s services are great. “We would use them definitely as a resource.”
“Sally has been a wonderful. She’s a wonderful speaker and supporter of people that are dealing with Alzheimer’s,” Gravelle said.
Gravelle recently spoke to a woman who was looking to place her husband in Huntington Common. Although Gravelle said she didn’t think the woman was ready to take that step, she gave her Tartre’s business card so that she could speak to someone about the resources available to her.
Tartre knows firsthand how difficult it is to navigate the disease. “We had to move my mom; we had to sell her house; we had to do power of attorney. You know, there are so many things.”
Like any consultant, A Place to Start analyzes its client’s family issues and develops individualized care plans.
“If they chose to hire us, then we’ll put together a whole book of resources for them,” said Tartre, referring to their mentorship program. “We’ll check in with them weekly and see how they’re doing and see if there’s any changes.”
Recently, Tartre posted her first big ticket item for auction on the organization’s website, APlaceToStartForDementia.org: four pairs of tickets to an exclusive Meet and Greet with the Boston Celtics at the Shamrock Foundation’s Annual Tip-Off Gala at TD Garden. The tickets were provided by Tartre’s brother, Dave Roux, and his business partner, Glen Hutchins. Bidding began at $250 per pair of tickets and raised nearly $2,100.
Tartre said she tried her best to advertise the auction on her website and on Facebook, before adding that she was happy to raise anything.
Though the organization’s services aren’t free right now, Tartre said her goal is to raise enough money via auctions and other fundraising activities so it can be. At the moment, the organization’s 501c3 application to become a nonprofit is pending.
Kennebunk’s 2011 “Great Person of the Year,” Diana Dubea, was Roux’s caregiver and friend and is also involved with A Place to Start.
Dubea said she’ll be mentoring families, helping them “find resources that are available out there to help them with their loved one who has Alzheimer’s.”
She added that in five years she’d love to see the organization helping dozens of families each year.
As for Tartre, in five years she hopes her organization won’t be needed. “I hope that Alzheimer’s has a cure,” she said.
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