Donation box for the Alzheimer Society

Alzheimer’s Disease and Power Foods for the Brain. Let’s first listen to Dr. Neal Barnard at a recent TEDxBismarck meeting where he speaks about his groundbreaking study and research on dietary interventions in diabetes type 2 funded mainly by the U.S. National Institute of Health.

Neil Barnard has conducted a great number of research studies on the effects of nutritious diets on body weight, chronic pain, and diabetes. Dr. Barnard wrote 17 books as well as more than 70 scientific publications on, among others, these subjects. He is chair of the U.S. Physicians Committee and has led many programs to advocate good nutrition, preventive medicine, and a higher ethical standard in our research.

Now let’s take a look at the story of the people who run Julien’s Pastry Shops in Halifax and set up a donation box for the Alzheimer Society. My wife June and I run a busy service center and gift shop on the Trans Canada Highway near Sault Ste. Marie. One day a young woman asked us if we would display a donation box for the Alzheimer Society. It was on a day like today with Christmas rapidly approaching so I decided to give her all the help I could to collect the so-much-needed funds.

It was 100 miles round trip for her to come back for that box. Now I deliver the donations to the local Chapter and I guess you could call me a “raving fan” of the work they’re doing there. There are so many Alzheimer’s patients who initially just were finding excuses for their memory slips and it’s so great now to tell you how this has evolved in a fantastic community effort!

In our business, we’re trying to create sort of “raving fans” as we go far beyond what most people would expect. At the gas pumps that we run, for example, we’re cleaning head and taillights, checking under the hood, handing out free litter bags, we’re even giving treats to the dogs.

We do service calls 15 miles in each direction without charge. That’s just how we like to do things. We also provide free coffee all season long. In return for the coffee, we request that people make a donation to the Alzheimer Society.

We started to raise money for the Canadian Alzheimer Society simply because of the sincerity of that young woman who initially approached us — she really did touch my heart. Now, there are other reasons. We have about 60 staff here; a lot of them are young people. We think that our philanthropic efforts set a great example for them. I’ve seen these kids change tires for travelers in the pouring rain.

I’ve seen them decline a tip and, instead, asked people to donate something to the Alzheimer Society. Well, needless to say, that means something. When it comes to caring, $10 and $1,000 mean the same thing. Sure, $1,000 will buy more. But it doesn’t show that they care more than a student who foregoes a tip to help someone else.

Every one of us has an impact. If we all pull in the same direction, we can make a big difference in the lives of many families and other patients.

I own Julien’s Pastry Shops in Chester, Halifax, and now also one in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. We participate in Coffee Break™ by giving free coffee in return for the donation to the Alzheimer Society. We ask that people give the usual cost of their coffee but many give more than that. A lot of local people know our story; many of them knew my father Edward. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease at the young age of 50 and passed away at the age of 62.

We only raise a small amount of money at Julien’s Coffee Break but it serves to open up the dialogue. Each year I’m amazed at the number of people who mention that someone close to them has the disease. I’ve noticed such a change since the time when my father became sick. People speak up about Alzheimer’s now. Thankfully the embarrassment is gone.

Barbara Mulrooney, my mother, helped out with starting the Alzheimer InfoLine out here in Nova Scotia. She’s been a great help and volunteers every week. I’ve given that number out to people in my shop. You can tell when they are at their wit’s end. People who’ve been there can offer practical advice but often what is needed more than anything is someone who will listen to what others have to say about dementia and Alzheimer’s.

We continue to participate in the fundraising because there is a need — in fact, it seems to be growing. So many people are affected and there is even a chance that the disease can be inherited. We know that excellent research is being done here in Halifax. Coffee Break is a way for us to help support that research and all the other work of the Alzheimer Society here in Nova Scotia.