Caring & Supportive Community

 In In, Spiritual Care, Uncategorized

by Jody Slaughter and Kari Snyder

Community happens when we come together for a common purpose, authentically sharing pain and joy through our stories. We experience community at Prince of Peace countless times each week through our support group ministry.

Some time ago, a Prince of Peace member shared with Kari Snyder what it felt like to have memory loss issues. He described how scary it was at times and how frustrated he felt not being able to remember how to drive to his favorite breakfast spot. Over the years, many people have shared their diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s disease with Kari. It is, most certainly, a tough diagnosis and there weren’t any local support groups for people living with these types of dementia.

Last year, Kari reached out to our local Alzheimer’s Association chapter to inquire about starting a group and was asked to help launch a pilot program for people living with dementia. Kari was trained as a group facilitator and helped launch and lead the first Persons With Dementia support group in Minnesota. After 6 months of leading that group in St. Paul, we are excited to launch another group right here at Prince of Peace beginning October 9! Folks interested in the support group must go through a screening process prior to participation by contacting Kari. Since Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, we will continually screen participants to be sure this group works for them. And when it doesn’t, we’ll find another path that will provide assistance.

We’ve had great feedback from caregivers and loved ones in the St. Paul group. One family member thanked us for giving their loved one, “connections, perspective, a feeling of not being alone in this.” Our hope is to bring this sort of support to our community and walk alongside those living with dementia so they know—for certain—that they aren’t alone.

Stories from other POP support groups:

Six months ago, a Grief Support Group participant was overwhelmed with the grief of losing his father and was only able to see his losses. Since attending the group, he stopped ignoring his grief and is now able to see incredible memories he still has with his dad. Another participant came back to the group after attending one time, several months ago. Even though this is painful, she knew she needed to take care of herself by being in this supportive community.

We recently changed the Depression Support group to Emotional Wellness Support Group. One participant enjoys the structured focus of being able to share their feelings about their own situations. He shared that he had gained greater self-awareness and feels empowered to make healthier choices, feeling more connected to himself, others, and God.

There are currently over 50 people with Parkinson’s Disease and their caregivers attending the Parkinson’s Support Group. This group continues to grow as participants find a caring community of others struggling with a difficult disease. Many from this group have formed friendships and connect outside the group.

At some time in each of our lives we will all encounter difficulty and loss. A caring, supportive community is always available through our support group ministry. For more information about these groups or other groups offered at Prince of Peace, please contact Jody or Kari or visit our support groups page.

Jody Slaughter is the Spiritual Care Minister at Prince of Peace. Kari Snyder is the Senior Adult Program Coordinator at Prince of Peace. 

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