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Support Helen Louise to Complete her PhD
$4,510 raised
56% of $8k goal
56 contributors
72 Weeks running
My name is Helen Louise Azzara. I am reaching out to ask for you support to complete my PhD so I can help people with dementia. My focus is on educating caregivers, and society as a whole, to care for those with dementia in more empathic and humane ways.

Dear Friends,

As most of you know, my name is Helen Louise Azzara, and I am a doctoral student of community psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara, CA. I am reaching out to ask for your support to complete my PhD so I can help people with dementia. My focus is on educating caregivers, and society as a whole, to care for those with dementia in more empathic and humane ways.

I am deeply committed and passionate in exploring how person-centered methods of expression can be utilized to create meaningful relationships with persons with dementia and help maintain their personhood. My dissertation asserts that even though someone has dementia there is still a soul/person inside and that person can be reached through the imagination and empathy.

Financial aid is only available for 3 years of the dissertation writing process and I am still writing into the 4th year. I am approximately six months away from completing my dissertation, titled Awakening the Soul of Dementia: A Life Inside. The primary research question posed in this study is: How can the process of creative self-expression be utilized as an everyday practice to maintain the personhood of persons with dementia?

Once I finish analyzing my research data I will be writing the final draft of my manuscript. As part of my dissertation I will also create a video performance piece to present a deeper portrayal and understanding of the experiential world of a person with dementia. The aim is to have my dissertation done by November of this year.

After earning my doctorate, my goal is to work with neuroscientists as a creative facilitator researching how creative imagination and a person-centered approach can be used to develop more empathic care practices, reduce medications, and help people maintain personhood through all stages of dementia.

Throughout my career, I have focused on using creativity to better people’s lives. I have a Master’s Degree in Creative Studies, have worked as an actress in New York, and spent ten years as a creative facilitator conducting creativity workshops for older adults. Through these experiences, I have witnessed time and time again how creative expression opens up the heart, and enhances overall well-being.

My hope is that $8,000 will cover my tuition and fees, including mandatory school fees and professional editing fees. Since February 2017, I have been paying $900 a month in tuition to maintain my active student status. I have a part-time job and social security benefits to cover my living expenses, but there is very little left over to cover tuition and additional school expenses.

Many of you know me personally and have given me emotional support on this journey – my thanks are beyond words! As difficult as this is to ask, I now need your monetary support to finish -- a monthly donation of $20 or whatever you can afford, from now through November (5 months). Even a one-time donation would go a long way to meeting expenses to help me complete my dissertation.

To make a donation please go to the website, listed under the heading Support Helen Louise to Complete her PhD. (Direct link to site is: .)

If you prefer to send money directly to me, you can do an online bank payment, or write a check to Helen Louise Azzara, and send it to 4696 Tajo Drive, Santa Barbara, CA 93110. (There is no processing fee this way.) And if you have any questions, please email me at

To all of you, I thank you for your interest and investment in my life’s purpose. I appreciate each and every donation and good thought, and I look forward to continue helping people with dementia maintain their personhood and well-being throughout their lives — with your help!

With deep gratitude,

Helen Louise

PS If you feel led, please share this campaign with your friends and family, or anyone you know who might be willing to help provide support until my final manuscript is approved.

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