When Phyllis Norrie learned of the support her friends were receiving at the Alzheimer Society of Oxford, she saw an opportunity to help.
“A friend’s husband was going to the Alzheimer Society, and I think that’s probably why I got involved. I knew her, and I thought ‘that sounds like something I could do,’” she said.
The Ingersoll woman became a volunteer companion, spending time each week with a local resident who has dementia. These volunteers are absolutely priceless, because they offer caregivers a few hours to themselves.
For many, it's the only free time they have to do errands, work, or even just unwind with a friend.
Phyllis has been matched with three people so far.
“I like the companionship, and I like helping the family out – and my match, too. It’s rewarding. You learn a lot being with them,” she said.
Phyllis spends time chatting with her “match” and they often go out for lunch together.
“You learn so much every day. You learn how to cope with a lot of different things,” she said. “You’re helping so many people, and that’s rewarding for yourself and for them.”
And that’s not all Phyllis does for the Alzheimer Society, either. She offers her support with events like the Walk and other fundraisers.
“You help in the office with serving and social-type events,” executive director Shelley Green added.
It's a wonderful organization at which to donate time and energy.
“They’re all very friendly,” Phyllis said of Society staff. “Everybody is very helpful, if you have any problems or questions they’re right there to answer you.”
Phyllis believes so strongly in the cause that she even tries to recruit her friends as volunteers!
“I think I brought five ladies with me to the training session. (Not all) have stayed, but…I keep trying that all the time. I’m always telling people,” she said with a chuckle.
“I just say ‘there’s a need, and it’s only a couple hours of week.’ You’re just giving families some peace of mind for a little bit – giving them some freedom.”
If you’d like to make a difference the way Phyllis has, contact the Alzheimer Society at [email protected] or call 1-877-594-2368.