In 2013, a social support group, PALS (Pretty Awesome Ladies), was co-founded by Deborah Hanna and Lynda Lockard to support the social and emotional needs of women managing a dementia diagnosis of their husband or partner, with an initial emphasis on young-onset dementias.
For good reason, PALS is the group nobody wants to join. Yet these women welcome each other with companionship, empathy, and support that is deeply and uniquely experienced. It’s both heartwarming and heartbreaking that PALS has grown to be such a haven for so many women.
Aaron Puckett, the founder of Puckett & Sturgill Financial Group in Westminster, made an initial contact with Deborah after one of the PALS women spoke with him during an emotionally charged meeting. Aaron increasingly realized the complexities of financial, emotional, social and physical support that is needed when clients are coping with a memory loss of their loved one, particularly when there is a young onset dementia diagnosis.
With this objective in mind, Aaron made an offer of seed funds to investigate the specific needs of Carroll County’s memory loss community, with the goal to support the development of a non-profit organization specifically to expand on PALS philosophy to meet unserved needs. An energetic group meeting in March 2019 confirmed understanding of specific community needs, and this information became the driving force and foundation for the planning group as they continue to move forward with the establishment of YES! to address the unmet and growing needs of the young onset dementia community in an effective and ongoing manner.
As YES! continues to evolve, we will promote educational opportunities and community awareness, identify resources, create support groups, and plan social events to connect families to the young onset dementia community. The hope is to replicate YES! throughout Maryland.