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Historic mugs being given out to older adults

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Some district seniors will be getting a coffee mug this month that just might jog their memories.

The District Mental Health Services for Older Adults Program of the Canadian Mental Health Association has received a donation of 90 mugs from the family of Vi Plumridge and the Fine Line Art Gallery, and are distributing them in recognition of “Mental Health Week” (May 7-13).

The mugs features Plumridge's artwork of various historic buildings, including the old Fort Frances Public Library, Point Park pavilion, the original Robert Moore School, St. Mary's School, Sixth Street School, and McIrvine School, among others.

Geriatric mental health worker Norma Reather told the Times the mugs are being given out to seniors who have used some of the services the older adults program provides.

Where possible, they've tried to match the senior with a school or other site they attended in their youth and remember fondly.

“It's nice to be able to reminisce and have those memories,” Reather reasoned.

“Sometimes it's difficult for those with Alzheimer's," she conceded. ”But I gave one to a gentleman with memory problems.

"His was Robert Moore School and he just loved it.

“A lot of people still have memories of the school they went to,” she added.

Reather said the donation is appreciated, especially since the mugs feature artwork by a local artist who had the advantage of seeing the building's she's rendered and capturing them in time for all to cherish.

“It's an absolutely lovely sentiment to share that with us and now we get to share them with members of the community,” she noted.

Some mugs already have been given out.

One such recipient last Thursday was Bergland resident Brenda Funk (nee Eldridge), who was born in Nova Scotia, moved to Fort Frances as a young girl in 1961, but then moved to western Canada later that decade only to return to Rainy River District five years ago.

Funk got a mug depicting the old Robert Moore School long before it was demolished in 2011—the same school she attended in the early '60s.

“I enjoyed Robert Moore,” Funk smiled, noting she has good memories of going to school there.

However, one of her most vivid of the era was the assassination of former U.S. president John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963.

“I remember they let us all leave the school and go home,” Funk recalled.

“It was really a trauma when I think about it. It was really something.”

Funk said she truly appreciated the mug.

“It's really nice," she remarked. "I'm just so excited.”

The District Mental Health Services for Older Adults Program offers community-based geriatric mental health services.

It is for seniors who are 60 years of age and older with a dementia or other serious mental illness, such as clinical depression, a mood disorder, anxiety, schizophrenia, vascular dementia, Alzheimer's disease or a related dementia, or caregivers and care providers of seniors who have a serious and persistent mental health concern.

The target population is older adults living in the community and facility-based environments, including personal residences, supportive housing, chronic and acute care facilities, and long-term care homes.

The program provides assessment and cognitive screening; counselling or therapy; cognitive-behavioural interventions; care and treatment planning, referral and advocacy; monitoring; education, and support to caregivers; community outreach and presentations; and geriatric psychiatry.

Referrals to the program are accepted by any source, including family, physicians, service providers, and self-referrals by contacting the local office (612 Portage Ave.) at 274-2347.

This year's “Mental Health Week” marks the 67th such week held by the CMHA.

Nationally, the CMHA is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

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