Chocoholics –“ Life is sticky but sweet”
Dubai: The founder of 4get-me-not Desirée Vlekken recently launched “Chocoholics” a grief support group, with a purpose to provide seniors and caregivers who are living with grief, a safe environment to share, connect and heal. The group plans to meet monthly, over a hot cup of chocolate and share their personal journeys.
Desirée Vlekken – founder of 4get-me-not says “I felt compelled to start Chocoholics; since there are many senior and caregivers in our organization that are hurting from losing a loved one. Most often, whenever we have a group activity or gathering; someone from the group would volunteer a personal story about the husband or wife or child they have lost. I thought it would make perfect sense to introduce a platform where seniors/caregivers would have a safe space to share, grieve and move forward. On a personal note, I carry my own heavy grief; I have recently lost my dad (79yrs) on 20th Jan 2021 from Pneumonia and complications of Alzheimer’s and about 1 week after launching Chocoholics, I lost my mom (81yrs) from battling Covid in April 2021. I was unable to attend their funerals due to travel restrictions to Manila.”
The group’s name Chocoholics – “Life is sticky but sweet” was inspired from learning about the benefits of consuming dark chocolate, which helps with memory, blood pressure, and acts as a mood enhancer whilst alleviating depression and it also has anti-inflammatory properties, which is good for the brain. This is what Chocoholics intends to achieve, for its participants to heal, one chocolate at a time.
Chocoholics held its first meeting earlier this month with 6 participants. The program ensures that everybody gets a chance to speak. The program moderator was Kim Smith, an Inclusion specialist for people of determination and book reviewer; her background enables her to manage delicate topics such as grief and mourning. Before the end of the session, each participant created a one-page collage with a photo of a loved one with colours and special messages. This will be filed and stored in the Chocoholics Time Capsule.
“It was vital to create a sweet and safe environment where we start each session with a cup of hot chocolate. People who are grieving (like myself) can feel detached and this needs to be addressed and enable us to be functional again” adds Desirée Vlekken – founder of 4get-me-not
If anyone is over 60yrs + or a caregiver, and would like to attend one of Chocoholic’s monthly group meetings, they can email the team at firstname.lastname@example.org to register. In order for the group to continue the group meetings, it needs support through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) sponsorships. This will enable Chocoholics to hold meetings twice a month, subsidize refreshments for participants, materials and offer a stipend for program Moderators.
4get-me-not, the only Social Enterprise in the United Arab Emirates and the Middle East which focuses on seniors (60 years old and above) as part of its mission to address Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), was launched in 2013. It’s Founder – Desirée Vlekken, belongs to a community touched by AD where both her father and father-in-law drew inspiration to create a social platform for families and caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients.
4get-me-not creates a positive impact to the society, particularly the senior community by creating awareness on the importance of giving proper attention to their wellbeing and quality of life as one of the means to prevent AD. Positive lifestyle approaches are considered to help seniors cope with physical and cognitive changes.
AD is a growing global health issue that affects a large majority of the senior community with one person in every three seconds reported to have it. 4get-me-not has been working with various International organizations such as the Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) London office, Dementia Friends of Alzheimer’s Society UK and World Health Organization (WHO) through its Eastern Mediterranean Office, to build a vibrant community that addresses Alzheimer’s in a preventive, holistic and innovative way.