Transforming through volunteering
When Mary was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, her daughter Janice quit her job and registered them both in programs offered by the Alzheimer Society of York. To show their gratitude for the outstanding service and support, the family purchased a mobility van for the Society. Janice found the experience “transforming” and looked at other ways to help through volunteering.
Why do you volunteer?
Volunteering is my therapy.
Mom has survived four separate cancers. Cancer will not kill her. Alzheimer’s will, guaranteed.
There is no surgery, no medicine that will stop the progression of Alzheimer’s in her brain. Slowly, slowly, Mom’s brain is shutting down. Eventually it will simply stop telling her body to breathe. By then she will have had the disease for 10-12 years.
All I can do is watch, and apply bandages to quiet the storm that rages in her head. Through my volunteering, perhaps I can make a difference in the lives of people who follow in Mom’s footsteps.
Why volunteer for the Alzheimer Society of York Region?
After my mother’s diagnosis, we registered for the counselling services at AS York Region and eventually the Thornhill D.A.Y. Centre. The positive relationships I enjoy with our social worker and the D.A.Y. Centre and fundraising staff influenced my decision to volunteer with AS York.
What do you do for AS York?
As an experienced public speaker, I speak to groups about the value of donating to the Alzheimer Society and the finances related to caring for a family member with Alzheimer’s. I have done media interviews and spoken to post-graduate students about the caregiver role.
I also host an annual fundraising lunch to benefit AS York Region and write personal testimonials for annual and major gift appeals.
Through your volunteering, what have you learned about Alzheimer’s that is new or surprising to you?
I am shocked at the rising incidence of Alzheimer’s and other dementias, yet public awareness is low and we need funding to find a cure. Nearly everyone in my circle has a family member who is affected.
Why should people volunteer with the Alzheimer Society?
Volunteers bring important skills that can help staff. They extend the Society’s influence into the community for fundraising, research and public awareness. As advisors on the Board of Directors, they can help the Society plan for future needs.
What tips do you have for volunteers?
Most Societies need caring and compassionate volunteers who can augment and support the important work of staff. The best thing you can say to AS staff is “How can I help?”