The Stand in the Light Memory Choir is led by a specifically trained music director and accompanist. It is a welcoming, inclusive, and accessible learning environment that helps provide a goal and a sense of accomplishment for each member. We provide music notebooks, sheet music, and a practice CD for each member. The choir has Dementia-aware volunteers to assist with the needs of the singers and care partners.
Cathy Reitz, Artistic and Musical Director
For over 40 years Cathy has taught choral and vocal music in the Midwest. She holds a Bachelor of Music from St. Norbert College, a Master of Education from the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse and is a National Board Certified Teacher and Master Educator. Stand in the Light Memory Choir is one of the community choirs that Cathy directs in the Chippewa Valley. She believes in the power of music and of singing together.
"This choir is directed by Cathy Reitz, a singer herself who has the incredible ability to insist on quality while ensuring that people have a good time." - Caregiver Choir Member
Nancy Wendt, Assistant Music Director/Accompanist
Nancy was born and raised in a musical family. She started playing piano over 50 years ago and plays the flute, piccolo and organ as well. Nancy has accompanied numerous middle school choirs, school performances, contestants at solo/ ensemble contests, and played for church services, funerals, and weddings. She has also shared her piano playing and love of music at nursing homes and assisted living facilities in the Eau Claire area.
Board of Directors
Sheila Wall - President
Sheila Wall is a Board Certified Music Therapist with over 30 years experience working with people who live with memory impairing conditions. She has been serving on the board since 2018. She currently has her own private practice for Music Therapy serving western Wisconsin.
Sue Frederick-Polden - Vice President
Sue joined the board after attending her first Stand In the Light Memory Choir concert. The joy on the faces of the choir and audience was irresistible. Retired after working for 40 years as a social worker, Sue volunteered for the first dementia team in the Chippewa Valley. She also volunteers for the Beacon House and Sojourner House.
Barb Kleist - Treasurer
Besides being the Stand in the Light Memory Choir Treasurer, Barb also coordinates refreshments for social time for the choir, both weekly and at the concerts. Barb is retired from Premium Finance Corporation. She and her husband, Larry, currently own the Bed, Bath & Drapery in Eau Claire.
Jill Hix - Secretary
Jill’s first experience involving Alzheimer’s was her maternal grandmother in the mid-1980s, followed by an aunt in the early 1990s. Currently, her brother-in-law has been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s. It truly touches almost every family in some way. The choir provides a positive experience for the individual and the families; if she can help make it happen, she is happy to do so.
Reverend David Huber - Tech/Media Advisor
David is the pastor of Plymouth United Church of Christ in Eau Claire and has been with the choir since its beginning. He was immediately attracted to the idea of the choir because of the healing power of music, the importance of safe spaces and singing together, and social time for choir members and caregivers.
Sue Falch - Board Member
A recently retired attorney for State Public Defender’s Office, Sue became interested in the Memory Choir as she has two family members who had Alzheimer’s and personally knows the power of music. Sue looks forward to assisting this organization in growing and best serving its members and the community.
Heather M. Hunt - Board Member
Heather Hunt is an attorney/partner at Nodolf Flory, LLP in Eau Claire and has been practicing law for 22 years. She grew up in Altoona and now lives with her family in Chippewa Falls.
Lee-Ellen Kirkhorn - Board Member
Lee-Ellen Kirkhorn, PhD is a Certified Nurse Educator (CNE) with more than two decades of nursing practice in Washington State. She also has served as the first Associate Dean for UW Madison’s Western Campus in La Crosse and as Nursing Department Head for Indiana University- Purdue University, Fort Wayne.
CeCelia Zorn - Board Member
CeCelia Zorn is a registered nurse, accomplished author, and an award-winning University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Professor Emerita. Since her retirement, she has written two novels, co-authored several journal articles, and volunteered as a technical writer at the Chippewa Valley Free Clinic. CeCelia is learning to play the flute and plays in two community bands. Her husband, Wayne, has primary progressive aphasia diagnosed in 2014; he is a member of the Stand in the Light Memory Choir. They live in Eau Claire with their dog, Oreo.
Admininstrative and Support Staff
Lisa Wells, MA, CDP - Dementia Care Specialist Liaison
Lisa has been with the Aging & Disability Resource Center of Eau Claire County, WI for 17 years and has been in the aging/dementia field for more than 32 years. Ms. Wells provides support for individuals with dementia and their caregivers, offers memory screenings, evidenced based-programs, assistance with care planning and connections to support and resources. She assists in developing dementia friendly communities, civic awareness of dementia related issues, and trainings.
Gayle Holte - Advertising/Marketing
Gayle’s love of music and passion for her profession (speech-language pathology) led her to get involved with this amazing group. She lives near Elk Mound with her husband Jim and spends as much time with her five grandchildren as possible.
Kobi Shaw - Administrative Assistant
Kobi has been a professional performer the bulk of her life, with music being at the core for many years. She has also been a writer, a storyteller and a teaching artist among many other things. Kobi has had multiple family members affected by Alzheimer’s and truly believes in the healing power of music.
Singing Care Partners
Do you love to sing and help others? Some choir members may not have a care partner and could use a little help. A singing care partner is paired with a person living with memory loss and assists the member during rehearsals and performances. Training is provided before the start of each semester for singing care partners.
Supporting The Choir
Stand in the Light Memory Choir is a 501 (c)(3) supported by generous donations from the community and many volunteers. Donations are tax deductible. Stand in the Light Memory Choir is a part of the Giving Voice Initiative (GVI) in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. GVI inspires and equips organizations around the world to build choruses for people with dementia and their care partners. For more information visit: