Max Wallack, 17, of Natick, was one of 10 teens from across the country recognized by the Helen Diller Family Foundation as a leader in volunteerism. Wallack was awarded $36,000 as a Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Award recipient for his work helping those afflicted with Alzheimer's Disease.
According to a statement released by the Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards, Wallack witnessed his great-grandmother’s decline with Alzheimer’s first-hand, and found that puzzles had a therapeutic effect and contributed to her sense of accomplishment. After her death, Wallack launched Puzzles To Remember in 2008, a charitable organization that provides puzzles to nursing homes, veterans facilities, and other facilities that care for Alzheimer's and dementia patients, according to PuzzlesToRemember.org.
Puzzles To Remember has distributed more than 23,000 puzzles to 2,000 nursing facilities around the world, and Wallack has involved hundreds of students in community service according to the Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards Awards. He has also partnered with a major puzzle manufacturer to create specialized puzzles tailored to the needs of those with Alzheimer’s.
Those who would like to donate puzzles should email PuzzlesToRemember@gmail.com for more information.
Wallack is now a student at Boston University, and according to theTikkun Olam Awards, Wallack is studying neuroscience.
He is also the co-author–along with Carolyn Given–of "Why Did Grandma Put Her Underwear in the Refrigerator?" a book that explains Alzheimer's Disease for children.
According to the Tikkun Olam Awards website, each of 2013 recipient demonstrated a commitment to "tikkun olam," a central precept of Judaism meaning to repair the world. The teens provided unique solutions to some of our world’s most critical social issues by developing projects that support social justice, equality and education, environmental sustainability and engagement opportunities for their peers.