In a nutshell, I was born in the south suburbs and moved to the western suburbs (Westchester) with my family as a teen. That’s where I met my husband of forty-five years and also where we raised our three sons. I retired three years ago after working in my husband’s dental practice for twenty-two years. About six months after my retirement, I decided I had way too much free time and missed the structure that a job tends to provide. Applying to the Alzheimer’s Association online was easy. I heard back from Louie, the Volunteer Director, almost immediately and joined the volunteers at the Chicago office about two and a half years ago. Here’s the rest of my story...
What led to your involvement with the Alzheimer’s Association? What specifically drew you to the cause?
I was looking to do more after retiring. For several years after my father was diagnosed with dementia, the Alzheimer’s Association sponsored a day long family conference in Rosemont. My sisters and I went to three or four in hopes of educating ourselves on the condition and of finding ways to keep Dad’s life meaningful and satisfying. The conferences were very helpful in so many ways. It prepared us for the journey ahead and offered ways for us to cope with what ended up being so difficult to witness.
What kind of volunteer work do you do for the Alzheimer’s Association?
I do mostly clerical work for the Chicago office. From stuffing envelopes or preparing team leader packets to writing thank you notes or making thank you calls, to verifying dementia care facilities services to calling walk volunteers and team leaders encouraging them to continue their efforts to help the Alzheimer’s Association find a cure.
What do you believe you are gaining by volunteering?
By volunteering in the Chicago office, I’ve been given an easy opportunity to repay the kindness offered to our family during my Dad’s illness.
What have you learned from your volunteer efforts?
By volunteering at the Alzheimer’s Association, I’ve learned first-hand what makes the Association work – a dedicated staff of young women and men who are very committed to their jobs and this very worthy cause. I’ve also learned that mostly women bring the “message to the masses” – the walk volunteers and the team leaders are by far mostly women (sorry guys). These are the people who nudge their significant others, their families, their friends and co-workers to get involved and to give their time, their talents, their resources. From some of the walk volunteers I’ve had the pleasure to chat with, I’ve learned that the path I walked with my father is shared by so many other families. The Alzheimer’s Association can offer families and caregivers so much support. I do what I can to spread the message.
Why should others volunteer/get involved with the Alzheimer’s Association?
The Alzheimer’s Association is more than a worthy cause. The condition will affect more and more families in the future. Anyone who has experienced the cruel realities of dementia/Alzheimer’s can at the very least lend a sympathetic ear to those who find themselves in similar circumstances. The Association makes donating time and talents so very easy. The schedule is flexible in terms of days and times. And the Volunteer Director is very considerate of personal schedules and obligations. It has been a perfect match for me.