The Greater Summerville/Dorchester County Chamber of Commerce’s award program is designed to recognize the dedication, achievement and entrepreneurial spirit displayed by exceptional local businesses, nonprofits and individuals. Recipients of the 2020 Chamber Awards were announced virtually via Zoom and Facebook Live on Friday, January 29, 2021.
The Trailblazer of the Year: Woman of Excellence award recognizes a woman that is a leader in their industry, shows courage and passion, has overcome great obstacles, and has truly blazed a trail for the women behind her. Congratulations to the 2020 Trailblazer of the Year, Peg Lahmeyer. Lahmeyer is the Executive Director of The ARK, Alzheimer’s Family Support Services.
Lahmeyer’s mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and related dementia (ADRD) twenty-five years ago. As her mother’s primary caregiver, Lahmeyer saw first-hand the challenges that go along with loving someone with the illness. In 1996, she founded The ARK, Alzheimer’s Family Support Services, a nonprofit dedicated to individuals with ADRD and their families with the Brookdale Foundation’s model and best practices. The ARK provides essential services for families dealing with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia. Serving five counties: Berkeley, Charleston, Colleton, Dorchester and Orangeburg, The ARK offers respite care, support groups, caregiver consultation, caregiver education workshops, resource referrals, law enforcement and first responders training, community learning programs, and rural services development.
The organization had humble beginnings, meeting and operating out of a few rooms in St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Summerville. The organization offered a social respite program one day a week to engage the loved ones while their caregivers took time for themselves. Over the years, the program expanded to two days a week, to adding services in St. George, to purchasing a passenger bus for convenient transportation of participants.
Today, The ARK in Summerville offers adult respite care four days a week, conducts support groups for caregivers, hosts caregiver consultations and lunch and learns to train caregivers for their jobs at home, and created the NOAH Project, a mentor program for underserved areas in developing Alzheimer’s support services tailored to meet each community’s unique needs.
“Peg has such a giving heart,” said The ARK’s Development Director, Megan Severn. “She never second guesses to lend a helping hand, give advice or be a supporter to not only families and staff of The ARK but many nonprofit organizations, local businesses and community members. She goes above and beyond.”
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