Skip to content

WCC and Walker Methodist Health Center: A Shared Mission

Anneliese Peterson | Oct 27, 2015

Sharing a Mission to Improve Lives

In late June, Lou Vlahos, WCC [Wayzata Community Church] director mission and communications, arrived at Walker Methodist Health Center with 20 beautifully inscribed iPod Shuffles, donated by WCC’s Mission and Outreach Board and its “Music and Memory Committee”. Before he even left the building, Cathy Schutt, Director of Therapeutic Recreation had removed them from their packages and sent them to be “unlocked” by the IT Department there. She then recycled the sturdy packaging for a craft project for the residents. By the end of the week, the iPod Shuffles were being assigned to WMHC residents who suffered from dementia, anxiety, or simply loneliness.

One resident who received one of the Shuffles was Leo, a new resident who relocated there at the age of 102. Another was a 101 year old who had arrived within a week of the delivery of iPods. She met with Mary Jane Hochstein (WCC Chair of the Mission and Outreach, Music & Memory Committee) and had her favorite music available to her on her iPod within a week. In both cases a transition to an unfamiliar environment was eased by their access to an amazing program called Music & Memory.


What is Music & Memory?

Music and Memory was designed by Dan Cohen about seven years ago and is the subject of a moving documentary called Alive Inside which was shown at WCC last fall. Dan Cohen’s vision is to revolutionize nursing homes by recognizing the humanity and importance of all older adults, even those lost in dementia, by reconnecting them with their memories through personally relevant music. This is a vision shared by both WCC and WMHC. In 2014, WMHC became the first organization in the Twin Cities to be a certified Music & Memory provider. Later in the year, WCC approached them with a unique vision to be the first church ANYWHERE to be a certified Music & Memory provider. And thus a partnership was born.

WCC + Walker Methodist = More Music, More Memories

WCC took the lead by sending Mary Jane Hochstein, as the committee chair, to be the first WCC member to learn the process of assessing residents, developing a personal playlist and then downloading their music. She has been an invaluable volunteer at WMHC and will bring her expertise back to WCC do the same thing for members of our congregation. WCC hopes to continue this relationship by bringing more volunteers to meet WMHC residents who would otherwise not have access to this program and provide them with iPod Shuffles with their favorite music. The training they receive would then be directed back at WCC to benefit members of the congregation who would also receive iPods with personal playlists and other health care facilities in the west metro.

Currently, there is no partnership like this in existence and it represents an exciting opportunity to change lives in a way that has not been done before. WCC hopes to expand the music aspect of this program to share concerts and other musical events with WMHC residents. The shared mission of WCC and WMHC is to change lives through the power of music and we hope you will join us in this meaningful and enriching endeavor.

Here are some stories of people who have benefited from this program:

1. Colette
Colette has benefited from the Music and Memory iPods. She is awake more during the day, she eats more when she has the iPod on and is able to participate more in day to day activities! She smiles every time we put the iPod on her. Her family has noticed a difference and is enjoying watching her with the iPod. Colette loves 50’s jitterbug and Big Band Music!

2. Merdis
Merdis enjoys the music so much that her husband went and bought a second iPod so that when one is charging she can listen to the other! She normally wanders throughout the day without a smile, but with the headphones on, she smiles, laughs, and dances to the music. Everyone smiles and laughs around her when she is listening. It is quite magical to witness! Merdis loves Hymns, Jazz, and Blues music!

3. Sally
Sally had not spoken in years. After listening to the iPod she said, “What Beautiful Music!” The staff was astounded! Sally listens to music from the 40’s and 50’s.

4. Ole
Ole had an iPod that we quickly got for the last 36 hours of his life. He played accordion in a polka band so his playlist was mostly polka. His faced changed every time the song changed. His daughter told us it brought a connection between them and eased the dying process. She asked the next day how she could donate money so all could have this!

5. Gladys

Gladys was having a lot of issues that was leading her to be confined to a more secure unit. Once we introduced the iPod, she stopped doing this and she started participating in programs, playing games that she was not able to play before. Because of her iPod she did not have to move off to a more secure unit.  Glenn Miller and Perry Como were her favorites!

All of us at Walker Methodist are excited to continually strengthen the Music & Memory program, as well as our partnerships with other organizations interested in getting involved. We hope to continually spread the word about the power of Music & Memory and how it supports our mission of Life. And all the living that goes with it. Enhancing the lives of older adults through a culture of care, respect and service.


Discover how personalized music helps our memory care residents Download free ebook

Subscribe to our Blog