SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Music has a special effect on us — especially when it comes to evoking memories of a specific place in time. A local non-profit is harnessing the power of music to improve the lives of memory care patients.

Dr. Emily Williams Burch is the founder of RISE Outreach. She visits the Isle of Hope United Methodist Church in Savannah once a week to work with the ministry known as Hope Arbor, which serves community members who are living with dementia.

“We do very specific music that gets them moving, and breathing and singing and stretching and telling stories,” Burch said.

“So basically it’s a stimulating day for them and it gives their loves ones a break,” said Brooke Chambers, the program’s director. “I cannot tell you how important music is to the mind, especially for people with memory impairment because it takes them back to happy times. It helps them concentrate on things. I have prayed for somebody to be able to do this type of work with us.”

Burch founded RISE Chorals in 2016. It’s more than a choir. In addition to singing, the goal is to teach young people how to socialize and serve. Then, she started RISE Outreach to give back.

“We offer programming, scholarships, and all types of workshops and musical things in schools that don’t have music programs or in community places such as Hope Arbor where music can engage people in a way that impacts them for good,” Burch said. “I feel honored to get to do this every week and see how it impacts them. They are getting back in the car with their caregivers at the end of the sessions and you’ve just heard these great stories from the volunteers and the caregivers where this music time has brought back a spark to their life. The power of music realized.”

There are two fundraisers coming up that will help fund programs like the one at Hope Arbor.

The RISE Winter Concert is taking place Sunday, Dec. 11, at 6:30 p.m. At Christ Church Episcopal on Johnson Square in Savannah. Admission is $5 at the door.

On Monday, Dec. 12, RISE is hosting a family night at Starland Yard and a portion of sales will go to the cause.

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