For a limited time, a local non-profit organization has twice the experience at the helm.
When Sheila Strand started her new job as executive director of Memory Matters on Jan. 1, she joined Edwina “Eddy” Hoyle in that post.
Hoyle, who lives in Bluffton with her husband, Renny, has served as executive director for the past 12 years and is retiring Feb. 28. In the meantime, she is helping Strand learn the ropes at the social day program for people with dementia. The two are working together to ease the transition for staff, clients and one another.
As Hoyle winds down her involvement, Strand jumps full force into hers. The organization is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year with a calendar full of special events. The first is a kick-off brunch, to be held at noon Feb. 19 at Hilton Head Beach and Tennis.
Strand, who lives in Sea Pines with her husband, Peter, comes to Memory Matters with a career’s worth of experience in strategic planning, growth strategy, business development, marketing and branding, primarily in the health care industry.
Her passion, though, is caring for people. Strand said that passion comes from her childhood example, her mother, Gladys. “She taught all eight of us kids that compassion and sharing were not options! They are a way of life. I try every day to honor her remarkable life and sweet spirit.”
Strand said she has felt welcomed since joining the organization a month ago. “Memory Matters has felt like home from my first day,” she said.
Asked about goals for the coming months, Strand said the board and staff of the organization will be “carefully examining Memory Matters’ direction for the next 20 years.”
A long-term vision she would like to consider is to actively advocate for brain health. “We should focus on training our brains as much as our hearts, in my opinion,” Strand said. She credited Hoyle and her team with laying the groundwork for brain health in the community. Strand envisions strengthening the programs that could “morph into an open invitation to every single Lowcountry resident to personally benefit from Memory Matters’ services.”
While Strand looked to the future, Hoyle took a glance back.
Asked about her proudest accomplishments over the past 12 years, Hoyle said there are two that stand out: the transition from Alzheimer’s Respite and Resource, the original name of the organization in 1997 when it operated out of churches, to Memory Matters, which is now in its own facility; and the publication of “Meet Me Where I Am,” the organization’s book that evolved from caregivers’ desires to encourage others.
Hoyle said she will miss a lot about Memory Matters – “the camaraderie, the passion of the staff, but most of all I will miss the smiles and hugs I receive almost daily from our families and volunteers.”
Hoyle is enthusiastically supportive of her successor. “I wish her the very best and I have high hopes for her,” she said. “I want the community to know that I endorse her wholeheartedly.”
Tickets for the anniversary brunch, which includes music by John Brackett, are available at www.Memory-Matters .org or by calling 843-842-6688.