Remembering that Grey Matters at Carlmont

Grey Matters club attending the Walk to End Alzheimer’s in San Francisco with thousands of other people. “It’s a walk in San Francisco that helps raise awareness and funding towards Alzheimer’s research,” Bierwagen said. (Kate Bierwagen)

Remembering the past can be a challenge for some, but Carlmont’s Grey Matters club is memorable. Grey Matters is a club that raises awareness of diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia by participating in educational events and learning about people whose lives are affected by memory loss.

Grey Matters is run by two juniors, Ella Yee and Kate Bierwagen. They both joined out of their interests, seeing that the subject of the club appealed to them.

Bierwagen’s reasoning for taking part in the club is a bit different than Yee’s; Bierwagen’s brother was the previous president and her mother, Laura Bierwagen, is a doctor that works with dementia patients.

This club meets every second and fourth Tuesday in room C2 at lunch. The meetings focus on educating members about Alzheimer’s, testing their knowledge about the disease, and discussing recent or upcoming events.

Club meetings vary,” Yee said. “Sometimes we will learn about certain aspects of Alzheimer’s, and other times we’ll play games or quiz our knowledge. We try to make them as interactive as possible.”

The members of Grey Matters after the Walk to End Alzheimer’s all holding colored flowers in support of the different types of dementia. (Kate Bierwagen)

A typical event that Grey Matters attends is the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, which is annually held each November in San Francisco at Pier 27. One member who went to the walk this past November is sophomore Joshua Lin.

“[The walk] was like a protest, but it was more focused on spreading awareness and more positive as it pushed for finding a cure to Alzheimer’s,” Lin said. 

For Lin, Grey Matters appealed to him as a club because not only was he interested in learning more about Alzheimer’s, but his grandmother had dementia, so “it was a big motivation” and drove him to participate in this club.

Another event that is participated in, which unfortunately did not happen this year due to COVID-19, is a Memory Concert for senior homes. Many people were invited to the concert in previous years, including choir and band students, to perform for the senior citizens.

The last concert, held in 2019, was at Silverado Belmont Hills senior living and featured jazz groups, acapella groups, as well as classical pieces.

Grey Matters recognizes the importance and enjoyment of music to others, especially those dealing with memory conditions, which inspires them to continue the concerts once circumstances permit it.

As of right now, however, Bierwagen says that most events are held online due to the pandemic, “which is harder to manage and organize and to get participation.”

One thing that COVID-19 can never take away is the support of loved ones who have Alzheimer’s or dementia. Many of the club members, including Lin and Bierwagen, have relatives who are affected by this disease.

Grey Matters provides a place where all students can help their family or friends with Alzheimer’s by raising awareness and showing their love.

Even if you don’t know anyone impacted by dementia, it’s still great to learn about and help spread awareness,” Yee said. 

Awareness of the disease assists those being affected more than anything, and that’s what Grey Matters strives to achieve.

“We can educate people on this issue,” Bierwagen said. “If more people know about the issue, there can be more funding and research possible.”