Interview with Joe Fisher – Renewal Memory Partners ㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤ
ExtendaTouch – December 2021
Joe Fisher, Founder and CEO of Renewal Memory Partners, is a social entrepreneur passionate about person-centered care. Joe founded Renewal Memory Partners to bring renewed hope, purpose, and well-being to individuals giving and receiving person-centered memory care.
Renewal Memory Partners provides innovative, holistic, person-centered homecare, expertly designed for people facing neurocognitive health challenges. They are advancing beyond clinical care goals and making it their mission to help clients cultivate their lives rich in purpose, connection, and meaning. Renewal Memory Partners have locations in New York as well as Chicago.
Joe was born and raised in Rochester, New York. He is the oldest of six children. Soon after his siblings all moved out, his mother began working in-home care. His father worked at Kodak for 30 years and later became a registered nurse.
“I think caring was always in my DNA.”
During his time at Columbia University, Joe was consistently involved in LGBTQ+ community activism. He was fortunate to have an internship with the Empire State Agenda, a statewide political advocacy organization. Joe always saw himself as an activist and entrepreneur. As a young student, Joe wanted to share his beliefs with the world and support others in his community to feel included and inspired.
Going into his MBA program, he was very interested in channeling his entrepreneurial passions for a social purpose and creating lasting change. As he started his career in a corporate environment, Joe didn’t feel fulfilled with the work he was doing, so he began listening to people in his community and brainstorming ways to help them on an entrepreneurial scale.
In 2009 Joe began researching LGBTQ+ aging in place. Joe looked at various companies and agencies across New York to see what corporate organizations were doing for his community.
“I was astonished that in that year, there was not a single agency with a commitment to cultural competency.”
He learned that many elders aging in place were going back into the closet because there wasn’t a home health care organization with significant ties to the LGBTQ+ community. That inspired Joe to serve his community in ways not being addressed, and Joe opened Renewal Memory Partners.
“I wanted to fill this gap in aging services and become a leader in providing home health care services that had this special commitment to provide affirming care to LGBTQ+ adults.”
Over time Joe and his team received numerous inquiries from people of different backgrounds, all wanting to support their organization and be a part of this initiative. It wasn’t only the LGBTQ+ community who wanted to be involved. It was also heterosexual individuals who saw the benefits of Renewal Memory Partners and understood their initiative was to help everyone.
Over the next ten years, Renewal Memory Partners grew immensely and began bringing in clients from all over New York and Chicago. Their efforts were substantial and thriving until the pandemic hit. During this challenging time, Joe and his team began brainstorming ways to continue providing quality care to all their clients while tirelessly working to keep their clients and team safe and socially distanced.
During the interview, Joe mentioned how the COVID pandemic had parallels to the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. It inspired him to create a relief program to give away $100,000 in services to people recovering from COVID who couldn’t find anyone to care for them.
“It was one of the most rewarding endeavors we embarked upon.”
Joe and his team at Renewal Memory Partners also have a caregiving training arm called the Renewal Memory Institute. Joe created the Institute to educate and inform first-time and experienced caregivers of new methods of care. They bring in expert trainers from a variety of different fields, including creative arts therapies, patient advocacy, end of life care, and more. Their goal is to integrate these teachings into caregivers’ tool kits.
Some Institute programs are available to clients as well as the community at large. Renewal sponsors several community education events throughout the year in partnership with leading nonprofits. One of their most significant events this past year was a panel showcasing the differences between Alzheimer’s, Lewy body Dementia, and Vascular Dementia. During this event, Joe and his team brought in experts from each field to educate the audience about their various areas of focus.
When asked what makes Renewal Memory Partners stand out and popular among the LGBTQ+, aging community, and caregiver community Joe had this to say:
“One of the things that are special about us is our dual missions to care for not only our clients but also the care providers as well, who we proudly call Care Partners. Care providers are often the neglected part of the equation, and we have always tried to provide support whether it be increased living wages, healthcare plans, or 401K plans. We intend to make their work sustainable and to honor the people who are doing it.”
Lastly, we asked Joe if a particular experience stood out and touched him personally or motivated him. Joe recalls the story of one of their first clients who was a member of the gay community.
“He was living alone with Parkinson’s disease. He was a retired art professor who was incredibly talented and created works of art. Because of his diagnosis, he suffered tremors which affected his artwork. He didn’t paint for years because he felt ashamed of himself, and it really set him into a spiraling depression.
When we met, we put a team together for him composed of artists that would help him with the basics of his care, and then sit down and help him create art. They would also ask him to teach them things to tap into his former job as a professor. It made him feel useful and needed again.
Our care partners slowly got him out of his shell, and he was creating works through the final years of his life. We would take him to the Met regularly to draw sculptures in the Greco-Roman galleries. His work was more abstract because that’s where his abilities were. But it wasn’t about the product; it was about the process. I was so inspired to see him create once again and find his purpose.”
Learn about Renewal Memory Partners HERE!