Craig Stewart, Ecumen Meadows in Worthington, Named Volunteer of the Year
On February 25, 2020 by Jodi Boyne
Craig Stewart has been described as the enduring spirit of Ecumen Meadows in Worthington who makes life better for residents and staff alike. He recently received our prestigious Volunteer of the Year award for his deep commitment to the well-being of others and mission to give people with dementia the gift of memory.
"We are honored to recognize Craig for his passion, lifelong commitment to learning and for the priceless gift he has given tothose who have dementia," said Gayle Kvenvold, President & CEO, LeadingAge Minnesota.
Pictured (l to r): Sara Sterling, Chair, LeadingAge Minnesota Awards & Recognition Committee; Gayle Kvenvold, President & CEO, LeadingAge Minnesota; Craig Stewart; Nancy Stratman, Board Chair, LeadingAge Minnesota.
Craig first moved to Ecumen Meadows in 2015 when his wife was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and immediately became an integral member of the community. He truly lives for helping others and there is not a day that goes by without seeing Craig leading activities to make life better for residents and staff.
The crowning achievement of Craig’s volunteerism is the interactive reminiscence therapy he singlehandedly created for memory care residents that he first developed to help make a difference in his wife’s quality of life. A former college professor, Craig thoroughly researched human memory and specifically focused on a fertile area of memory known as a “memory bump” that occurs between the ages of mid-teens and early 20s. This means that for residents of memory care in their 80s or 90s, the images, songs and events from the late 1930s – early 1950s could be accessed and potentially slow dementia.
Craig used this knowledge to develop his own original program to help people with dementia get in touch with their memories and live a fuller, more engaged life. With the help of his puppet partner, Clara, he assists residents in recalling the happier times of their youth and young adulthood by singing, telling jokes and engaging them with a “Complete the Thought” exercise.