By Ray Van Dusen
AMORY – A fire that gutted J’Bell Boutique and Consignment Shop in January has since left a gaping hole in Vinegar Bend’s strip of buildings.
Shelter Insurance moved back to an adjoining space last week and insurance agent Carla Glasgow, who owns the site, has plans to add curb appeal to the area with a pocket park dedicated to help First Friends Respite Center, which helps those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia and their caregivers.
“Why I bought that lot was to use it as a parking lot. The best thing that could’ve ever happened was the city shooting us down,” Glasgow said.
After approaching local artist John Ward about painting a Shelter Insurance mural, he and his wife, Lynn, helped brainstorm ideas to spruce up the concrete pad.
Glasgow’s parents both suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, and the guidance of First Friends Executive Director Mary Nell Dorris for their care led her decision to let the pocket park serve the organization.
“I saw they were trying to raise money and I started thinking about First Friends. I told her I’d love for them to use it to raise funds,” said Glasgow, who will serve of the honorary chairwoman for the organization’s annual Friends Walk on Sept. 20.
People are being asked to come up with a name representative of First Friends that is connected to people’s memories. Dorris asks for unique, creative and quirky suggestions by Sept. 18. The pocket park’s name will be announced at the Friends Walk.
“The park would not only call attention to this disease, the sixth leading cause of death, but could bring some exciting fundraising possibilities for First Friends – maybe some musical concerts and other art and entertainment events. It can certainly bring attention to many parts of our work that people do not know about as well as make healthy our perception of the people who suffer from it. Stigma stands in the way of progress,” said Dorris, who graciously thanks Glasgow for the generous gift of the park.
Dorris thinks the presence of the pocket park will create more conversation and engage the public to realize the severity of the memory loss diseases.
“Perhaps we could include in some of that conversation the fact that we help people with a strategy that makes a new normal – one that can be rich and exciting. Memory impaired people can still laugh, love, be useful, have fun and express themselves,” Dorris said.
Glasgow anticipates the pocket park to be completed in early 2015.
To submit name suggestions, email them to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail them to P.O. Box 117, Amory, MS 38821.