Re-start, re-focus for Grace Place

An art project by one of Grace Place’s participants (Photo courtesy of Jerry Jacob)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Grace Place, Grace Episcopal Church’s ministry to persons with memory loss and their caretakers, faced the same shutdown as every senior program suffered in the spring, but leaders are now looking to the future.

Program founder Deacon Jerry Jacob shared with The Tribune:

“Like much of the activities of our community, Grace Place was put on hold by the threat of the COVID-19 coronavirus. A new program director had been hired in late February and two weeks later the program was shut down by the threat of the pandemic.

“Fortunately, Grace Place was able to keep the new Director on a part-time basis sending out weekly activity packets to the participants’ (those with memory loss) homes. Their caregivers were enabled to keep their loved ones ‘busy’ with word games, puzzles, art or craft projects, devotionals, songs and stories.

“By the end of September, the spread of the virus seemed to be abating somewhat. By that time, also, there was plenty of publicized effective ways to combat the virus spread for small group gatherings. The organization’s board, with medical advice and input of other respite programs, decided to re-start the program.

“After much preparation, planning and acquiring necessary sanitation supplies, Grace Place re-opened on Oct. 20, with Melva Jackson continuing as the ‘new’ program director. The program’s structure has been changed to meeting from 9 a.m. to 12 noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays, instead of a four-hour session, and lunch was eliminated due to masks not being worn. Face masks or shields are provided, social distancing is maintained, and there is plenty of cleansing and sanitizing going on.

“Just as important for the program to keep its focus on socialization and constructive engagement; a volunteer works with each participant and sessions are jam packed with activities. Each session and activities are tied to a central theme or topic. Recent themes have been Halloween, Veterans Day, and the presidential election. 

“A typical session consists of a devotional, mild chair exercises, a travelogue, word game or puzzle, an art and/or craft project, background music when appropriate, and even a short break for stretching their legs. The participants have turned out wonderful art and craft work and shown amazing skills with word games and puzzles. Minds and bodies are kept active all session long.”

For more information about enrolling a participant or volunteering at Grace Place, email Melva Jackson at

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W.C. Mann