When Dennis Kellner talks about his years of volunteering with the Alzheimer Society, there’s one word that comes up again and again: rewarding.
Dennis gives two hours of his time each week to the Volunteer Companion Program. He meets with his current match - his seventh since he started in 2006 - every Tuesday.
It’s time well spent.
“The relationship that you build with your friend, they kind of look forward to you coming each week,” he says. He also knows how much caregivers appreciate having a small break.
Dennis started volunteering with the Alzheimer Society after he retired. He wanted to try something new.
He didn’t have any personal experience with Alzheimer’s or dementia before he started. However, volunteers are given extensive training and have ongoing support from the Alzheimer Society.
He’s learned a lot since he started. Every match has been different, he says, and it’s important to treat everyone as an individual. With his previous match, he saw them change over the course of their time together as the disease progressed.
“It’s quite an experience,” he says. “It’s actually like you’re stepping into another world, to see how people deal with things.”
He’s learned to go with the flow and deal with challenges as they come.
Dennis likes that the Volunteer Companion Program gives him the chance to meet new people. “That’s an adventure,” he says.
He also appreciates the flexibility of the Program, which allows him to select the volunteer hours that work for him.
If you’ve got spare time and want to help other people, Dennis has a message for you: “Go to the Alzheimer Society and see what they have to offer.”
Chances are, you’ll find it rewarding too.