Anne McEnroe lives in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago and really enjoys being close to the lake, the park and the zoo. Originally from New Jersey, she moved to the Chicago area when she was nine and considers herself a Chicago native. There are two “Jersey things” she has carried with her through the years – a great love for the New York Yankees and an equally great love for the Jersey shore. A retired chief financial officer, Anne spends her time running, doing yoga, volunteering and traveling. She says, “My fabulous husband Pat and I love taking long walks along the lake front and exploring city neighborhoods. We love Chicago and try to take advantage of all the wonderful things it has to offer.” They have 14 nieces and nephews and almost as many great-nieces and nephews.
What led to your involvement with the Alzheimer’s Association?
I lost my mom to Alzheimer’s. She was diagnosed in 1993 just before her 68th birthday and she lived with the disease for six years. It was a difficult road for me and my family, watching the disease progress and seeing her change so drastically right before our eyes. Unfortunately, I know first-hand what it is like to see someone live with Alzheimer’s. Although my mom ultimately did not speak, I think that she always knew me on some level...or at least knew that I was someone who loved her and was there to take care of her. After I retired, I knew that I wanted to devote more of my personal time to doing volunteer work. The Alzheimer’s Association was an organization that I sought out immediately. Having lived through my mom’s illness and oftentimes feeling helpless, I wanted to contribute in some way. Although monetary donations are extremely important, I wanted to take it a step further by devoting my time to specific projects that were important to the organization.
What kind of volunteer work do you do for the Association?
I started volunteering for the Alzheimer’s Association in November 2015, so I have not been at it too long! Since that time, I have been verifying (or sometimes gathering) information relative to the 24/7 Helpline community database. This project finished up at the end of June which means we have been at it for about eight months because the database houses so many resources. When my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in the ‘90s, finding help was nearly impossible. There just were not as many resources around then as there are today. I really enjoy the verification process because with each phone call or fax, I am grateful that there is one more resource out there that can help someone. The vast database continues to amaze me, and I feel proud to be a tiny part of something that can assist so many in need. This month, I will be starting a new project assisting care consultants by entering intake information.
Why do you choose to volunteer with the Alzheimer’s Association?
Volunteering with the Alzheimer’s Association is my own small way of making a contribution and giving back. The Alzheimer’s Association provides so much assistance to so many; my volunteer work is how I support the Association and its many wonderful initiatives. My belief is that the Alzheimer’s Association will be at the forefront of finding a cure for this debilitating disease. In the meantime, I hope my volunteer work helps those affected and their loved ones deal with Alzheimer’s. Also, I volunteer as a tribute to my mom, whom I miss every day.
Why do you think others should volunteer with the Alzheimer’s Association?
The Alzheimer’s Association is a great organization to volunteer for. The volunteer program is extremely organized and all of the people that I have worked with have been extremely kind, helpful and appreciative. Even the people I haven’t worked with, but pass by in the hallway or see in the lunch room say, “Thank you for volunteering!” I find this work very rewarding. Although I’m not saving lives, I do feel that I am making a difference, even if it’s just one phone call at a time. The Alzheimer’s Association does a great job of utilizing volunteers and has a variety of jobs and projects for volunteers to assist with.