Educators, Advocates, and Ministers
Uniting Spirit and Art, the programs of Healing Moments have been designed to enlighten, inspire and comfort family, professional and informal Alzheimer's and dementia caregivers. Our focus on these populations grew out of the staff's empathy for the stress, confusion, and grief experienced by Alzheimer's and dementia caregivers, and a deep, heartfelt love for persons afflicted with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. We have created compassionate programming that recognizes the value of the lives of persons with dementia, and teaches the recommended interventions for addressing the challenges and stressors experienced by Alzheimer's and dementia caregivers.
A diverse group of professionals, our team members bring their own unique talents and passions to this world of dementia care. Please enjoy meeting our team!
Jade C. Angelica - Founder and President of the Board of Directors
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.
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: [email protected]
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 protected]
Melba "Jimi" James - Educator
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.
David La Graffe - Educator
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.
David is based in Maine. Contact David directly at: [email protected]
Laura Randall - Educator and Program Manager
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 protected]
Mary Raysa - Educator
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: [email protected]