Encore – An Adult Respite

canterbury3At the risk of people thinking that I only write when something unfortunate happens, I wanted to assure you (and myself) that there are plenty of good things that happen every day. I promise!

Last week, my new friend, Valerie, asked me to speak to a group of new volunteers for Encore. Encore is the adult respite program at Canterbury United Methodist Church. This is my parents’ church and the church I grew up in and got married in! I was thrilled to tell this group about the wonderful benefits of Encore, but knowing that this is a very emotional subject for me, I decided to write it down. I become a total cry baby when I talk about dementia and my dad, so I knew that notes would be very handy. I was right!

Anyway, I wanted to share my comments with you because I want you to know what a blessing Encore is to my dad and I think that some of you might be interested in volunteering your time to this wonderful ministry. Should you decide that you want to share your love and your time with people like my Dad, please reach out to me and I will put you in touch with some awesome people at Canterbury!

Here goes:

First I want to thank each of you for being here today. Without you my Dad would be at home seven days a week. Without the volunteers at Encore my Dad would continue to feel isolated from his peers and useless to his wife. Without Encore my dad would not have “news” to share with my mom. And without you and Encore, one day would simply roll into the next day and to the next day and to the next day.


I am very emotional about Encore because my Dad is my hero and I am not used to the roles being reversed. Eighty percent of the time, my dad is my dad and nothing has changed. The other twenty percent of the time it is very difficult to be around my dad. It is hard to keep up the conversation and remember what tale we are spinning to settle him down.


Encore has allowed my dad to be in a familiar surrounding. His church. Encore has allowed my mom, who is confined to a wheelchair, to attend a lunch group that she once attended weekly. She went to eat with her “lunch bunch” a few weeks ago for the first time in over a year. She told me that one day she plans to go to the Target by Brookwood mall and go down every isle and see everything in the store! You see she did not receive her motorized chair until one week after my dad was diagnosed.


We thought it was going to be difficult to get Dad to attend Encore. We had to spin another tale about Encore being a new group for his generation of church members. Now he looks forward to coming to Encore. He loves BINGO and darts and he even helps with art projects. He thinks he is helping you . . . that is part of our tall tale . . . but you are the sunshine in his day.


He is calmer when he has attended Encore. He sleeps through the night and he has news to share with my mom. Dad was always telling me he wanted to be useful and Encore seems to be making him feel useful again.


I am so glad you are here today. I hope you will get the opportunity to meet my dad if you don’t already know him. His name is Vann Henagan and he is a retired banker, father of two, grandfather of five and husband to Ann for over 50 years. He is awesome and he has dementia.


As I learned in the support group that I attend with my mom here at Canterbury: Do not get caught up looking at the horrible disease that these people have or you will miss the wonderful part of them that is still alive and well.


Thank you for giving Encore your time and these participants your love. What you give will come back to you ten fold.



8 thoughts on “Encore – An Adult Respite

  1. How I wish I could find a place like this in a church in Chattanooga. I too am in a wheelchair and my husband has Alzheimer’s. So glad Cantebury church is filling such a important Ned.


    1. Sally, I wish you had a program for your husband as well. Have you checked with Alzheimer’s support groups to see if there is one in your area? They seem to be popping up in many of the bigger cities. I have found a wealth of information through our support group. I will say a prayer for you and your husband.


  2. Your new friend Valerie is my daughter . I am bursting with pride as I write this. I feel as if I know your Dad because he is definitely Valerie’s Hero. Encore has been her dream since she started her ministry at Canterbury. Of course the program didn’t have a name yet, but it has been a twinkle in her eye since day one. What your Dad gives, is now coming back to him ten fold. Now I’m going to read your essay again and smile.


  3. Your new friend Valerie is my daughter. I am bursting with pride as I write this. It is important that you know your Dad is Valerie’s Hero. Encore has been her dream since she started her ministry at Canterbury. Of course she had no idea what the program would be named but the conception was there from day one. What your Dad gives to Encore is now coming back to him ten fold. Thank you for your uplifting essay. Now I am going to read it again and smile.


  4. Thank you Encore! I know first hand what a terrible desease Dementia/ Alzhiemers can be. It struck my family and took my father away. A man who was a loving husband , father and friend. He was a caring person who would help someone in need. He believed in doing the right thing and in taking responsibility if you didn’t. Speaking of those who help others. The ladies and gentlemen of Encore and Canterbury United Methodist thank you for helping those in need . I would like to say a word to Valerie’s mom. I have had the pleasure of meeting Her on a couple of occasions.You have much to be proud of. The last time I saw her was on a short visit to Canterbury to see someone special to me. Valerie gave me a big hug and said its good to see you again how have you been. She treated me as though we had been friends all our lives! She is one of Encore’s Angels. There is another Angel at Encore who is also loving and caring . She is really happy to be at Encore where she can help those with this terrible desease. You see Kristen Snell lost her Paw Paw to this desease not long ago. Although we didn’t have anything like Encore to help my dad, Kristen is determined to help your loved one. Kristen I love you and I’m very proud of the young women you and your sister have become. If Paw Paw had a place like Encore to help, I do believe he would still be with us today!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Amen Mark. Valerie thanks her Heavenly Father every night for Kristen and Patti. These three Angels along with the volume of volunteers are creating a community of love, laughter, and hope for everyone involved. So to this I shout ENCORE!!!


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