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Volunteers are the heart of the Alzheimer’s Association. We are grateful for all of our dedicated volunteers who are passionate about putting an end to Alzheimer’s and all other dementia. Below are the stories of just a few of the outstanding volunteers at the Minnesota-North Dakota chapter.

Beth Bjerke
Jane Dolter and Mimi Stender
Denise Loftesnes

Beth Bjerke, Grand Forks

Beth first became connected to the Alzheimer’s Association when she was looking for resources in 2014, after her mom was diagnosed with the disease.  
 
When she happened to see an Association table at a local farmer’s market in 2019, Beth registered on-the-spot for her first Alzheimer’s Walk to End Alzheimer's event in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Soon, she joined the planning committee. “I really enjoy Walk day. It is about more than the fundraising. It is about the community, the programming, and coming together with other families,” she said.
 
Over the years, Beth has become a fierce advocate for people experiencing Alzheimer’s and dementia by speaking with her legislators to raise awareness and expand funding for local programs and research. She notes, “Rural challenges are different. There is a lack of resources, such as adult day care or memory care sites. I am trying to get more people involved to bring awareness and resources.”
 
Today, Beth is a member of the Minnesota-North Dakota chapter board of directors as well as Chair of the Walk committee for this year's Grand Forks Walk while managing her career as Associate Dean and Professor at University of North Dakota’s College for Aerospace.
 

Jane Dolter and Mimi Stender, Duluth


 

Jane Dolter and Mimi Stender are volunteers who live in the Duluth, Minnesota area. They closely partner to present Alzheimer’s Association caregiver support groups together. These groups are spaces where people caring for loved ones can learn, find comfort and share their stories with others in similar situations.

Involved since 2016, Mimi has been engaged with the Alzheimer’s Association Minnesota-North Dakota in many ways over the years. She advocated for Alzheimer’s and dementia funding and research by meeting with her legislators, participated and tabled at the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, and even funded a nonprofit to meet local needs called Duluth Aging Support. 
Jane became involved with the Association as a volunteer in 2017. Says Mimi, “Jane is an advocate for the Alzheimer's Association and an involved community leader.” Jane started facilitating the western Duluth caregiver support group initially, and joined forces as co-facilitator of the western and eastern groups with Mimi in 2019. 

Says Mimi, “we really are a duo. Jane makes the sessions so much better and says the most meaningful things to caregivers. She is my Ethel, and I’m her Lucy.” 

Denise Loftesnes, Bismarck


When Denise Loftesnes' parents were diagnosed with Alzheimer's just weeks apart, a year ago, in Bismarck, North Dakota, Denise, and her husband lived in southern California. Denise and her eight siblings sought the services of the Association in virtual family care consultations and working with a staff social worker who helped them best meet the needs of their parents. Association resources supported their primary goal to keep their parents safe and living together in their present home.  

Now, Denise and her husband have relocated back to her hometown to be closer to her parents and help them maneuver the diagnosis. "Thrive, not just survive, is how I am approaching my life these days. I am here to make sure Mom and Dad are safe and happy, as they were always so good to us."

Denise is also volunteering her time with the Association helping other families navigate through the Alzheimer's journey. She teaches community classes on such topics as "Effective Communications" and "Understanding Alzheimer's," as well as running a resource group, "Memory Cafe," once a month at the local library for families impacted by dementia. Denise will participate in the ND Congressional Delegation on behalf of the Association. Soon, she will be starting a new position as community resource director for United Way. As an Association volunteer giving back, she says, "I am leaning into a love I didn't know was possible. There is peace in my heart now."


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