Every year in January, you can find Ken Craven at the Woodstock Walk for Alzheimer’s.
For more than 20 years he’s been a fixture at the event, usually counting donations and pledges at the money table, but also chipping in with set-up and tear down work.
“It’s enjoyable and it’s nice to see the people come in and have put out an effort (to fundraise),” Craven said. “No matter how much or how little money they’re bringing in, you like to encourage them that they’ve really made a difference.”
Craven’s seen a lot of changes at the Alzheimer Society of Oxford since he began volunteering at the Walk for Alzheimer’s more than 20 years ago.
“I’ve watched the Society grow and blossom and it’s been great to see,” he said. “It’s really grown in what it’s been able to offer the county in terms of services. Certainly the prominence of the Society has been raised considerably.”
In addition to his volunteer role at the Walks, Craven’s dental practice holds a Coffee Break for their office building each September.
“The cause is near and dear to my heart because I’ve had relatives who have suffered with Alzheimer’s and dementia,” he said.
That includes Craven’s father. But the diagnosis came years after Craven started as a volunteer with the organization – so he knew where to turn for help.
“The Alzheimer Society provided support to me when I was dealing with that,” he said.
“You want the public to be aware of it, and know they’re not alone. So many people will be caring for a parent and they’ll think ‘now what do I do?’ The Alzheimer Society is a great resource.”
The organization can be a crucial lifeline for local residents, especially those looking after a loved one with dementia.
“It’s hard to know what to do, and it’s hard to get any relief at all. Certainly the Society helps those caregivers,” Craven said.
But the Alzheimer Society is also a great place to donate your time and talents, he said.
“I’ve been other places where you’re trying to help, but you’re probably getting in the way more than you’re helping,” he said with a chuckle. “Everything is so well organized at the Alzheimer Society. You can come in and they’ll have a job for you and you don’t just have to stand around wondering ‘how can I help?’”
Volunteering with the Alzheimer Society of Oxford has also been fulfilling, Craven said.
“It’s very rewarding, it really is.”