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 Ruth Keilen, a support group facilitator in Myrtle Beach, SC.
Q: What brought you to volunteer with the Alzheimer’s Association?
A: My first exposure to Alzheimer’s Disease came when I was in my early teens. I was awakened in the middle of the night by the ringing of our front doorbell. Temperatures were below freezing and there was ice and snow on the ground. The entire family rushed to the door to find my grandmother barefoot and in just her nightgown outside. Grandma’s “odd” and disturbing behavior only escalated from there. It was the early 60’s and Alzheimer’s Disease was unheard of.
My Mom also developed Alzheimer’s Disease in the 90’s. Seeing both these kind, caring women spend their final days wrestling with this disease made me want to do my part to ease the suffering and pain this disease Alzheimer’s Disease brings to the entire family.
Q: What volunteer role(s) do you have with the Association?
A: I facilitate a caregiver support group in the Myrtle Beach area currently on Zoom and when possible in person.
Q: What do you enjoy most about your volunteer role?
A: Making a difference in the lives of the caregiver brings me great satisfaction. Seeing the interaction between members, the blunt honesty of their sharing and witnessing the depth of their love is an incredibly humbling experience.
Q: What aspect of your role do you feel makes the biggest impact?
A: The biggest impact is made by allowing each member to freely express their thoughts and fears to a group of their peers. I believe they feel it is a “no judgment zone” and the group provides a safety valve of understanding. It allows members a sense of community at a time when they are experiencing devastating isolation.
Q: If someone were considering volunteering with the Association, what would you say to them?
A: Go for it!!! This is an amazing opportunity to really make a difference in lives now and future generations. (Including her granddaughter, Lily, pictured with Ruth at right.)
Thank you, Ruth, for creating a safe space for caregivers to voice their challenges and connect with support and resources
. We appreciate your commitment!
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.