Longtime support group volunteer recognized by the Governor General
While we celebrate everyone who gives their time during National Volunteer Week, this year one of the Alzheimer Society of B.C.’s longest-serving volunteers is being feted at the highest level. Marg Monro, founder of Salt Spring Island’s Caregiver Support Group, was among a handful of people from across Canada awarded the Governor General’s Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers. Governor General Julie Payette presented the award to Marg in a ceremony at Government House in Victoria on March 21.
Marg has led Salt Spring Island’s only support group for caregivers of people living with dementia for 26 years. Marg, a geriatric nurse, founded the group after moving to the island to help support her parents, when she recognized the signs of dementia in her mother.
“I thought I’d never let anyone go down that lonely road again without any supports,” says Marg, who witnessed the challenges her father faced for many years while caring for her mother.
Marg created a welcoming and accessible group, with weekly meetings scheduled at a convenient location for members in the tight-knit community. Since its inception, Marg has been there for a group ranging in size between two and 12 caregivers at any given time – people who, Marg says, have been there for each other once they’ve been connected.
“When I first started, I was afraid to go away for a week or two, but when I did, I found that they got along fine without me,” she says. “Your neighbours look after you.”
Over the years, Marg has seen a marked increase in the number of younger people attending her support group, as well as an increase in the level of education among caregivers. She attributes these changes to earlier diagnoses and a caregiver desire to stay informed.
Marg, who is committed to developing her skills and keeping abreast of advancements in care for people living with dementia, regularly attends education sessions offered through the Victoria Resource Centre. She has begun working with another volunteer who may be able to take over her role leading the group one day, but that day, Marg says, is nowhere in sight.
To learn more about how you can get involved as a volunteer, visit alzbc.org/volunteer.