ABOUT YouQuest

“Outcomes for young-onset patients are greatly enhanced by access
to services designed for and attended by their peers.”

 

DR. ERIC SMITH, MD, MPH, FRCPC, FAHA
DIRECTOR, COGNITIVE NEUROSCIENCES CLINIC, UNIVERSITY OF CALGARY

Improving Quality of Life

YouQuest improves quality of life for people with young-onset dementia and their care partners. YouQuest is a registered charity addressing a void for this underserved community in Canada.

Filling the Gap in Services

YouQuest is practical daytime support in a public recreation setting.

  • Participants have an inviting place to engage in meaningful activities co-planned with recreation therapists and volunteers.
  • Care partners have peace of mind and a full day to maintain work, family life and their own health.

YouQuest is a rehabilitative intervention for a terminal diagnosis that typically leads to inertia and isolation.

Participants define their needs and decide how to spend their day.

YouQuest Delivers on a Promise

  • Fosters public understanding of the unique needs of people with young-onset dementia in an established community environment.
  • Builds social connections, supports autonomy and independence in a meaningful role without the stigma of dementia.
  • Keeps families together, delaying person’s relocation to long-term care facilities incompatible with their age and cognitive abilities.

Cost-efficient and Scalable

  • YouQuest is designed to expand into other urban, rural and remote communities by utilizing existing recreation facilities.

People with dementia (aged 40-64 years)

  • Calgary & Area: 1,419 people
  • Alberta: 3,890 people
  • 1 in 10 of AB dementia population
(Source: AB Interactive Health Data Application Statistics, 2017)

Our logo represents a bold, playful and adventurous approach to life even with this
terminal brain disease. The triumphant Y represents the unique needs of
people living with young-onset dementia and their families. Purple reflects the
universal colour for dementia awareness.

OUR TEAM

BRENDA GIROUX – EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Brenda has been working as Executive Director with not-for-profit organizations since 2012 supporting Education, the Arts, and Social Services. She is passionate about helping organizations and people find solutions to problems by providing focus, creativity and confidence. She brings strengths in strategic leadership, organizational management, problem-solving, relationship management, process improvements and governance. Brenda has an MBA in Executive Management from Royal Roads University and a Bachelor of Education from the University of Calgary.

When asked what she loves most about YouQuest, Brenda says, “It is the most welcoming and inclusive community to be a part of. There’s something special about service days that create a unique experience for individuals living with a dementia diagnosis. Throughout the day, I see our participants show an increased level of confidence, individuality, and a reconnection to others. I feel honoured that I get to support this incredible group of people.”

BEVERLY HILLMAN – THURSDAY RT LEAD

Beverly has over 30 years experience as a Recreation Therapist in: dementia programming, memory cognition, creative intervention for clients, care partners and families. Beverly’s passion is in providing caregiver support, volunteer and staff training, public education and group facilitation. Over the past 10 years she has facilitated the Memory PLUS community program for individuals and care partners coping with early stages of dementia.

Recognizing the great need to support individuals diagnosed with young-onset dementia, Beverly joined the YouQuest team to increase awareness and develop effective service alternatives in a community-based setting.

SARAH MILLER – TUESDAY RT LEAD

Sarah has spent the majority of her career working in different capacities with clients experiencing various stages of dementia. Her passion is in establishing therapeutic rapport with clients to find creative interventions that ensure holistic well-being. Sarah aims to create jovial atmospheres and provide meaningful activities that allow participants feel included, supported, autonomous, and successful. She is of the firm belief that life, regardless of circumstance, is too short not to have fun and uses this philosophy to support YouQuest participants in living purposeful, enriched, and fulfilling lives through their recreation and leisure pursuits.

 
“What I love about YouQuest is the sense of community. The participants, their families, the volunteers, and the staff… everyone adds something uniquely wonderful that contributes to the vibrancy of YouQuest. Every day is a good day!”

LENORA CARBONETTO – ON-SITE COORDINATOR

Originally from Montreal, Lenora move to Calgary in 2010 and has been amazed by the areas around Western Canada ever since. Her roles in administration include working in tourism management, banking, and the outdoor industry. After five years coaching and administering an outdoor kids adventure program, it was time for a change and YouQuest has been great. She is complementing her work, while attending to her studies in Psychology at Athabasca University.

Lenora also spends some of her working time as a Hiking Guide, with the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides, leading groups on adventures into our Canadian Rockies. When the snow flies, she can usually be found on skies in the backcountry with a deep sense of exploration.

VALERIE ROMANZIN – RECREATION THERAPIST ASSISTANT

Valerie Romanzin has more than 15 years experience in the field of Recreation Therapy. She is presently supporting YouQuest as an on-site Recreation Therapy Assistant. She has experience with persons living with dementia from a long-term care perspective as well as from personal experience from supporting a close family member, her father, who had vascular dementia. She is an active Alberta Therapeutic Recreation Association (ATRA) member. Valerie has additional credentials from Fit Alberta as a certified Group and Older Adult instructor.

Val joined the YouQuest team in 2019 because she believes that having a balanced lifestyle is key to healthy living. Having purpose, opportunity for new learning, connection to others and feeling valued are vital to thriving in life. YouQuest supports and creates opportunity for those living with Young Onset Dementia in these areas and more.  

SUSIE DOOLEY – VOLUNTEER COORDINATOR

Susie joined YouQuest in the role of Volunteer Coordinator and CiviCRM Administrator because she supports the mission, vision, and values that YouQuest brings to the community.  

She holds a Degree in Tourism Marketing and completed an Apprenticeship in Hotel Management. Susie has over 20 years of experience in the hospitality, tourism and customer service industry within Europe, USA and Canada.  

Her favourite thing about YouQuest: the volunteers! They dedicate their valuable time by supporting a community-based environment that welcomes and respects individuals with young-onset dementia and their families.

BRIANNA GARE – MARKETING AND COMMUNICATIONS COORDINATOR

Bri comes to YouQuest from a small town in southern Ontario. Moving to Calgary in 2020, she is currently pursuing a Communications degree from the University of Calgary. Committed to sharing more about young-onset dementia with the world, Bri has been involved with YouQuest since December 2021. 

Bri’s favourite thing about YouQuest is the joy the program brings! The organization is committed to creating a good day, every day. 

BUSHRA IKRAM – BOOKKEEPER

Coming soon!

“This is the best day, ever!”

 
RICHARD P. – PARTICIPANT

BOARD MEMBERS

CINDY McCAFFERY

Cindy’s experience with young-onset dementia began when her father-in-law was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at age 52, and continues with her husband who was diagnosed in 2007 with neurocognitive brain degeneration at age 48. Her goal is to help people living with dementia – and their care partners – enjoy a desirable quality of life. Through recreation activities, being with peers and having skilled support to pursue one’s interests, she believes that YouQuest provides an inviting place to belong and gives families true opportunities for respite.

DR. ERIC SMITH

Dr. Smith is the Medical Director of the Cognitive Neurosciences Clinic and a member of the Calgary Stroke Program. He is an Associate Professor in the Department of Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Calgary, and the inaugural holder of the Kathy Taylor Chair in Vascular Dementia.

His research program investigates the risk factors and consequences of diseases of the cerebral microcirculation, with the goal of improving the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of vascular contributions to cognitive decline and vascular dementia. His research work is funded by Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, Alzheimer Society of Canada and the U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. He has received the Robert G. Siekert Award from the American Heart Association for his research work. He is an Assistant Editor for Stroke and is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of the American Heart Association. Dr. Smith sees patients in the Cognitive Neurosciences Clinic and the Stroke Prevention Clinic.

JOHN McCAFFERY

 
John left his career as an estate administrator with a national bank at age 48 because he experienced cognitive difficulties due to dementia. Although he no longer participates in many of his favourite sports, he strives to stay active and has found a welcome place in Calgary’s vibrant disc golf community. John contributes his ideas to YouQuest from a user’s point of view, and enjoys seeing how the service is evolving. He puts a focus on keeping things positive for his family. YouQuest will embody his personal motto, to ‘have a good day, every day’ for the benefit of all people and their families living with reality of young onset dementia.

MARY ELLEN SELBY

 
Mary Ellen has over 25 years of business experience as a senior human resources leader in a variety of industries including Oil and Gas, Transportation, Residential Real Estate, Agriculture and Not for Profit organizations. She has a breadth of Human Resources expertise, in addition to deep proficiency in leadership coaching, organizational design, and talent management. She is currently a consultant to organizations on human resources issues, in addition to devoting much of her time to volunteering with not for profit organizations. She has an MBA from the University of Calgary and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Alberta. As a care partner for a parent with dementia, Mary-Ellen is committed to treating people living with dementia with respect and compassion.

JEAN THOMSON

 
Jean is a Chartered Professional Accountant with extensive experience in financial management, internal controls and process improvement. Through many years of active and diverse consulting within the Calgary and international business communities Jean has cultivated a broad range of financial expertise and a strong commitment to accountability and transparency. A love for experiencing different cultures combined with her business background has led Jean to volunteer with various organizations around the globe – the Calgary Immigrant Women’s Associate as a professional mentor in Calgary, Circulo de Amigas in Nicaragua, Puente a la Salud Comunitaria in Mexico, and Accounting for International Development (AfID), London England. Jean actively holds a professional accounting designation with the Chartered Professional Accountants of Alberta and a Teaching Certificate (TEFL) from Oxford Seminars.

ANNE WALLIS

 
Anne is a lawyer who spent her 30 year career in private practice with a medium size Alberta law firm. She has recently retired and is excited about working with YouQuest. Anne first experienced the impact of dementia when her father developed Alzheimer’s in the later years of his life. Living in a different city, Anne wasn’t able to help on a day to day basis and saw the effect of little or no support for her mother and father through that journey. When a colleague was diagnosed with young onset dementia, Anne recognized it caused the same, but also different, challenges to the families affected. She was thrilled to see the opportunities YouQuest provides for families and is happy to be part of the team. Previously, Anne was on the Board of Alzheimer Calgary for a number of years.

ROC SPENCE

 
Roc Spence spent his 35+ year career in the health care, laboratory distribution and global chemical manufacturing industries. Roc was Chairman of United Way of Calgary and Area’s Community Leaders Program from 2012-2015, and joined the United Way Board of Directors in 2016. He is a long serving Board Member on the Calgary Stampede Board and Winter Start Events Ltd., and is the founder and president of the National Alpine Training Centre. He also serves on several corporate advisory boards for leadership, human resource utilization and employee engagement. A third-generation Calgarian, Roc is committed to building a more open, accessible, and rewarding community for all Calgary residents. Roc believes the true test of any great city is how it provides the necessary support to those who need a fresh start, a leg up from time to time, or a safe and encouraging environment.

VOLUNTEER RESEARCH ADVISOR

Dr. PAMELA ROACH

Dr. Roach has provided invaluable volunteer advisory support to YouQuest since its inception. Her research on the importance of meaningful activity for people with young-onset dementia illustrates why the recreation centre environment is appealing to participants. Pamela has worked with families to better understand day-to-day life and transitions for those living with this diagnosis and their care partners. Her expertise will assist YouQuest in engaging families, volunteers, and health providers to evaluate this unique community-based resource.

“We join participants in what they choose to do;
we get to know each person to help them have a good day.”

 
DIANNE M. – VOLUNTEER