~Laura Nissen, Sales and Marketing Coordinator, Luther Manor Communities, Dubuque, IA
David LaGraffe has taught Improvisation for over twenty years and has studied with Keith Johnstone and Keith's protege Patti Stiles. During that time he has moved away from improv comedy, focusing instead on "pure improv": the unconditional welcoming of the present moment. From this perspective, improvisation is not so much inventive as it is revelatory. We learn to trust that everything we need is already there, waiting to be discovered, if we are willing to be open to it.
David introduced founder, Jade Angelica, to Improvisation in 2004. He joined the Healing Moments staff due to a passionate interest in extending the benefits of improv beyond the improv classroom. He has witnessed first hand the benefits of Healing Moments' strategies with his mother-in-law, a middle stage Alzheimer's patient.
David is owner of Lights Up Improv, a school of improvisation for kids and adults in Portland, Maine. He is also artistic director of Portland Playback Theatre, a troupe of actors who improvisationally honor stories spontaneously shared by members of the audience.
In Memoriam 1945-2017
Healing Moments is David’s legacy. We would not exist without his presence and his generous sharing of his gifts. Our gratitude to him is boundless. To read more about David's life, please click here.
Will Luera, the Director of Improvisation at Florida Studio Theatre, is co-creator of Healing Moments for Alzheimer’s. Since 2004, he has served Healing Moments as consultant for Improvisation Education.
Will is also Director of Big Bang Improv and serves as the Artistic Director Emeritus of ImprovBoston, Artistic Director of the Pilsen Improv Festival, Artistic Associate of the Chicago Improv Festival, Artistic Advisor to the Women in Comedy Festival, and Part-time Faculty at Boston College. He tours globally as an improv and theater actor, director, and instructor, and performs and teaches regularly all across North America, South America, Europe and Asia.
“Since I started doing improvisation professionally, I've always felt that Improv was not only good theater but good for the spirit and soul. When Jade approached me with this new way to use improvisation, I was immediately drawn in and I'm proud that the work we've done together has touched many lives around the country.”
Will is located in Florida.
Celebrating the Beauty of living in the moment
For more information or to schedule a Healing Moments program, please contact:
I remember when my great grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. I had never heard of it before she was diagnosed. I was in college at the time, and so the gradual decline that my family saw was stark and dramatic for me when seen every few months. I struggled with how to interact with her in any meaningful way. Our family culture dictated that she stay at home instead of receive care at a facility. It was a lot of work for the family. When she died, I felt relief both for her, and for us.
An ordained Unitarian Universalist minister, my ministry is grounded in the intersection of faith, healing, and the arts. I received my M.Div. at Andover Newton Theological School, where I was heavily involved in both the Theology and the Arts and the Faith, Health, and Spirituality departments. I am trained in Playback Theatre, which uses improvised movement and sound to represent the personal stories shared by the audience.
My participation in Healing Moments is in honor of my great grandmother. I hope to help others have the connection with their loved one that I never had. This work is as healing to me as it is for the people we work with.
Darrick is based in Illinois. Contact Darrick directly at email@example.com.
Jimi's Eucharistic visitations to home-bound and retirement home church members led to compassion for them and the family caregivers. Experiencing "titans" slowly changing, yet still emotionally and spiritually connecting, tugs at heart strings. Those who did not talk, sang along when a beloved hymn was played.
Jimi's experience as a science curriculum and instruction coordinator in a large school district, science methods instructor at Washington University-St. Louis, MO, and director of the world's largest International Science and Engineering Fair brings a host of skills to the Healing Moments' team. Her love and passion for student comprehension and application of learning drives her support of Healing Moments'workshops. She has a PhD in Science Education from St. Louis University. Jimi is based in Columbus, OH.
Mary's call to serve those living with dementia and Alzheimers came when both her father and brother were diagnosed with the disease in the mid 1990's. The realities of losing loved ones to the disease brought anger and confusion until one day Mary walked into her father's care facility and the "light bulb" turned on, "My loved ones had lost the ability to speak and reason but had not lost their souls and their ability to feel and love. I realized then I needed to learn to step into their world, and learn how to communicate in a different way. How could I bring love, dignity, and hope into our relationship going forward?"
Mary's professional teaching and coaching background at The Ohio State University brings teaching expertise to the Healing Moments Staff. Currently an ordained Deacon in the Diocese of Southern Ohio she has worked extensively with seniors in offering pastoral care to homebound individuals and those living with dementia in care facilities. She is a woman of faith who believes that Healing Moments offers new opportunities for people living with dementia and their loved ones by bringing hope and God's eternal gifts of grace and love into one another's lives.
Mary is based in Ohio. Contact Mary directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org
I am The Reverend Esther Hurlburt, a Unitarian Universalist Community Minister and registered nurse with a passion for advocating for people who are old. I am on a mission to bring back the worth and dignity to the word old, believing that ever prevalent ageism is disgraceful. Indeed, the ‘silver tsunami’ has hit our shores and regrettably not everyone is equipped to guide old people and their families through the transitions of aging.
I understand the realities of aging and know that no matter how hard we may try, that we will grow old unless we die first. Therefore, we must learn to grow old like we learned to grow up; that is, we learn to grow old by being one another’s teachers and helping each other through the process.
I work with individuals and families to coordinate care for people who are aged or who have disabilities. I am also the founder of the Legacy Home (www.legacyhomeministry.org), which is a home for aging women with low wealth.
I support HM because it works! I've seen this intervention in action and find it to be an effective and extremely compassionate way of minimizing the stress and angst of both care-receiver and care-giver.
Esther is located in Kentucky. You can learn more about Esther at www.revestherhurlburt.com.
I became interested in the connections between Alzheimer's Disease and spirituality while working as a medical secretary in a long term care facility. The residents living with dementia taught me a great deal about the grace that can come from being present in the current moment. I also got a crash course in accepting the reality that is presented to you with love and good humor.
A graduate of Harvard Divinity School, I found Healing Moments™ while researching my Master's thesis, Finding Spirit in the Sundown: Spiritual Care for People with Alzheimer's Disease. As part of the Healing Moments™ team, I am able to link my passion for improving the lives of people with Alzheimer's Disease and their caregivers and the joy I find in Improvisational Theater. I am a Unitarian Universalist minister and a certified Pastoral Care Specialist.
Laura is based in Massachusetts. Contact Laura directly at: email@example.com
Alzheimer's Disease runs in my family. Both my maternal aunts had it, and my mother, who was diagnosed in 2001, died from Alzheimer's in 2011. As Mom's condition progressed, I knew that caring for her would be the most important work of my life. However, the opportunity for me to move from Boston to Iowa, where Mom lived, did not happen until 2007. While I was waiting to be with her, I honored Mom and what she was enduring by studying about Alzheimer's and identifying unique ways to communicate, connect and enhance relationships with people who have dementia. I ultimately created Healing Moments for Alzheimer's.
My education and training include a B.A. in Psychology from Clarke University, an M.Div. from Harvard University, a Certificate from the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation, a Doctor of Ministry in Faith, Health, and Spirituality from Andover Newton Theological School, and a Diploma from Improv Boston University that deems me "Perfectly OK not knowing what in the world is going on!"
In addition to designing and leading workshops, services, and educational programs for Healing Moments, I am a spiritual director specializing in distance spiritual direction for persons of all faiths who are seeking meaning and purpose, including persons with Alzheimer's and their caregivers.
Jade is based in Iowa. Contact Jade directly at: JadeAngelica@gmail.com
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