Why I Volunteer: Meet Anne Knops
Anne Knops looks forward to her weekly visits with her match in the Volunteer Companion Program offered by the Alzheimer Society of Oxford.
She knows she is providing some respite for the family of her match, but Anne gets as much benefit from the two-hour visits as anyone. “It lifts my spirits, and it gives me a purpose,” said Anne.
The two ladies do a lot of sightseeing during their match time.“She loves to drive in the car,” said Anne. “And she likes to be active.”
Where they go on their outings depends on what her match would like to do, or ideas that Anne has come up with based on what she has learned sparks an interest in her match.
“She's a great person. Even though she's got Alzheimer's disease, she's got great wit and we have a lot of fun with that. “We're a really good match.”
The pair met about five months ago. It was when Anne retired that she decided she wanted to give of her time as a way to give back to her community. Though she hadn't had any involvement with the Alzheimer Society previously, this was where she decided she would volunteer her time.
“They're a very good organization,” Anne said. “The Volunteer Companion Program is a great program and the Alzheimer Society gives such great training.”
She had no preconceived idea about what it would be like to volunteer as a companion but felt very confident after she took part in the training. Anne participated in several sessions totaling 12 hours of training before meeting her match. The training covered the different types of dementias; how they affect people differently; situations that may arise during a visit and how to deal with them; as well as ideas for activities or games.
When she first met her match, Anne was accompanied by a member of the Alzheimer Society staff who helped to introduce the two and gauge their interaction.After that initial interaction, the two ladies began to visit regularly on their own. Anne always feels supported by the Alzheimer Society.
“If you get into a situation, there's always someone at the Alzheimer Society, they’re just a phone call away. You're never alone. There's always someone there.”
Anne wishes more people would participate in the one-on-one Volunteer Companion Program. She said it's so different from other volunteer opportunities, and if she had the energy, she would have a second match.
'It energizes you,” Anne said. “You're making a few moments in their life a little brighter.”