National Volunteer Week is April 18-24, 2021. Each day this week, we'll be spotlighting one of our rockstar volunteers here at the South Carolina Chapter.
Meet Kimaya Brown, an Alzheimer's Congressional Team Member and State Advocacy Champion in Eutawville, SC.
Q: What brought you to volunteer with the Alzheimer’s Association?
A: After my graduation from Charleston Southern University, it had become evident to myself and family members that my grandmother was having early stages of memory loss. In her early stages, she repeated tasks and developed a poor mood. In her late stages, she had forgotten to bathe, eat and could not recall her loved ones names. From 2013-2017, my grandfather and I had to unexpectedly serve as care givers and assist my grandmother with the most intimate needs. We watched my grandmother transform from a vibrant Southern belle to a someone who could rarely remember nor care for herself. We were challenged with maintaining our personal life while ensuring that my grandmother was well cared for.
By January 2020, I became an advocate for Alzheimer’s prevention and awareness. My personal experience had motivated me to bring awareness of the disease to others. Prior to my experience with my grandmother, I did not have any knowledge about the lasting effect on the disease or where to find proper resources for assistance. I wanted patients and caregivers to be more prepared for how to handle the process. I wanted medical staff to be thoroughly trained on how to notice symptoms and treat patients. Lastly, I wanted I wanted to make the lives of caregivers less challenging.
Q: What volunteer role(s) do you have with the Association?
A: Presently, I serve as an Alzheimer's Impact Movement advocate. I work with the federal and state level of the Alzheimer's Association to help push public policy priorities for the dementia and Alzheimer's community. Since being an advocate, I have served as a liaison with S.C. House of Representative Gilda Cobb Hunter and Senator Jim Clyburn to drive policy reform.
I have played a virtual role for majority of my term. I have utilized social media to promote public policy efforts. I had met with congressional staff members online for support of policy reform. Most recently, I have submitted a letter to SC Senator Jim Clyburn emphasizing urgency in support of passing the Alzheimer's Caregiver Support Act. This legislation will authorize the Department of Health and Human Services to award grants to public and nonprofit private health care providers to expand training and support services for families and caregivers of individuals living with Alzheimer's disease or a related dementia.
Q: What do you enjoy most about your volunteer role?
A: I enjoy the diversity within the Alzheimer's community. In March 2020, I attended my first Alzheimer's event. I participated in S.C. State House Day in Columbia S.C. I enjoyed how I was able to meet with many individuals of various backgrounds whom we shared something in common. We have either experienced dementia and Alzheimer's or we have had a loved on effected by the disease. During State House Day, I was able to learn about new resources and programs by networking with fellow advocates. We each shared the idea of wanting to make a difference with Alzheimer’s.
Since the pandemic, I have not had the opportunity to meet with fellow advocates in person. However, I managed to remain virtually active in my community. In November 2020, I successfully organized a group of coworkers, family members and friends located in SC and surroundings states to virtually participate in Walk to End Alzheimer's in November 2020. Everyone wore their purple, waved their ALZ flags and assisted with donations to the cause. I was able to meet my personal goal to raise donations towards dementia and Alzheimer's research funding. I most enjoy that I'm not alone in this fight to preserve the memories of humanity.
Q: What aspect of your role do you feel makes the biggest impact?
A: At Charleston Southern University, I studied Political Science with a minor in Sociology. I have always had a passion to connect with people and serve people within the legal or non-profit capacity. Post college, I worked as a paralegal and former national service member with AmeriCorps.
Once I became an advocate for the Alzheimer's Association, I felt that my degree became fully activated. I'm able to impact my community by knowing how to communicate with legislators on how to solve real world issues. I have the ability to influence policymakers to create or modify laws that matter most in the dementia and Alzheimer's community.
Q: If someone were considering volunteering with the Association, what would you say to them?
A: The pandemic has taught me how uncertain and unpredictable life can be. We will never know if Alzheimer's or dementia may effect the health of our closest family member, friend or even our own! Alzheimer's can effect both young and elderly individuals. Despite your age or background, we are together in this fight to preserve memories.
Thank you, Kimaya, for raising important awareness among our legislators and helping to advance key policies
to better serve those with dementia and their families!
Volunteers are truly at the heart of our work at the Alzheimer's Association, and we invite you to lend your unique talents to the fight to #ENDALZ! View local volunteer opportunities and get started.
The Alzheimer's Association leads the way to end Alzheimer's and all other dementia — by accelerating global research, driving risk reduction and early detection, and maximizing quality care and support. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer's and all other dementia.™ For more information, visit www.alz.org or call the 24/7 Helpline at 800.272.3900.