New Name, Same Services For Former Alzheimer’s Chapter

New York City’s longtime Alzheimer’s Association chapter has surfaced with a new name: CaringKind. The new name accompanies the organization’s return to being an independent charity following its disaffiliation this past December from the nationwide association. The organization had been a member of Alzheimer’s Association since 1985.

Lou-Ellen Barkan, president and CEO of what was formerly known as Alzheimer’s Association, New York City Chapter, said that the new name is a nod to the organization’s constituency, which is primarily made up of caregivers. During the process, CaringKind’s leadership and its marketing partner thought about the kinds of family members, physicians and home staff needed to treat Alzheimer’s – courageous, loving and caring – and the name stuck. “It represents who we are and who we serve,” Barkan said.

The organization will continue offering key programs associated with its former self, including a 24-hour helpline, free support groups and education seminars, and training programs for home aides and health professionals. Barkan emphasized that, name aside, the organization will run just as it has, with the same 60-to-70-person workforce and same programming.

Barkan did concede that getting the word out on the new name would be a challenge. Supporters spreading the word through their own networks and employees engaging under the new name will both be relied on, Barkan said. A campaign headlined by signage to be posted on MTA train cars beginning on April 25 and a local media presence will also help. CaringKind will have an opportunity to gather exposure for its new name and logo during its caregiving conference in May and its walks and athletic competitions later this year.

Alzheimer’s Association, New York City’s journey to becoming CaringKind started last fall, following the Chicago-based association’s announcement that it intended to roll its affiliates into a single entity through its Mission Forward plan. The chapter was a dissenting voice in a 27-27 nonbinding vote among affiliates on Oct. 3. The local board voted to disaffiliate on Nov. 18 and conveyed its intentions to the national office shortly thereafter, becoming the first to do so.

The organization went by the name Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders, New York City, Inc. – its name when it was established in 1978 – following its disaffiliation.

Shortly after the disaffiliation, Barkan emphasized a desire to continue to focus on care as opposed to advocacy and voiced concern over the shared fundraising model that resulted in 40 percent of every unrestricted dollar heading to Chicago. Barkan repeated those points shortly after the name unveiling.

The Together We Care program, which links homecare workers with those in need of services, is an example of a local service that would have been lost if the organization had stayed on with the association. Barkan added that, “the absence of real transparency, sending money over to Chicago, became more troublesome than we would have liked.”

Early feedback has been positive. Anecdotally, donors have said that they feel more comfortable providing a higher level of support now that they know exactly where their money is going. As evidence, each year the chapter runs a year-end campaign from the beginning of November through the end of February. This year, the campaign launched a month later, but still reeled in $1 million – a 67 percent increase from last year, according to Barkan. Unlike in years past, the entire sum will be able to go to local efforts.

“The nice thing about us is that people will have a real, concrete ability to see what we do, how that money is spent and what the outcomes are,” Barkan said.

Barkan anticipates Alzheimer’s Association opening a new chapter in New York City and numerous other local organizations already tackle Alzheimer’s and dementia. CaringKind’s name is intended to distinguish itself from other organizations, Barkan said, adding that there is plenty of work to go around should a chapter open up nearby. CaringKind is already taking aim at expanding its reach, such as better servicing the local Korean population.