Why I Walk with Melissa Minkowski

8 Aug

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My dad was diagnosed with Early-Onset Alzheimer’s at the age of 55. My grandma Elsie (my dad’s mom) passed from Alzheimer’s. Oh, what I would’ve given to know then what I know now…

Now, my husband and I are now going through different forms of dementia with his parents. To see 3 of your 4 parental figures in your life go through dementia or Alzheimer’s is something that I’ve come to see as a sign to get involved, to spread the word, spread awareness, to get educated, to help others, to support others with whatever knowledge I pick up from the experiences that I’ve seen or endured. No one prepares you for what you have to do or see when you have to take care of your parents.

This walk is to honor not only my Dad, but my Mom who is amazing and loving and supports my dad and myself every day. This is also for our family/friends (because our friends are our family) that love him near and far. And it’s for those that are going through similar heartache and loss. I hope to help those that are new to this shift in “normal”. And to help everyone know that we are all together in this.

Please take the time to help educate, donate to research and development, walk with us or simply share this with your friends and family. Every little bit counts.

MELISSA MINKOWSKI
TEAM CAPTAIN OF WILLIE’S WALKERS
COASTAL VIRGINIA WALK

August Volunteer of the Month: Deborah Jordal

6 Aug

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Congratulations to our August Volunteer of the Month, Deborah Jordal! Deborah first connected with our Chapter in the late 90’s while doing a personal study about what would make life better for residents of assisted living facilities. Since then, she became a support group facilitator and later helped the chapter launch ArtMatters, an early stage engagement program. Deborah is a dedicated volunteer with the Alzheimer’s Association because she wants to help families navigate the difficulties of an Alzheimer’s or dementia diagnosis.

Deborah has lived a life of volunteerism and has always had an interest in helping those with dementia and Alzheimer’s. In her teens, she worked and taught early education programs at the Jewish Community Center and explored dementia-related diseases and programs. Later on, she worked with Assisted Living Facilities to try to improve daily life for residents with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Deborah spent a lot of time on the road, speaking at conferences and visiting facilities. She first volunteered with the Chapter as a facilitator for our caregiver support groups. She is now in the process of training to become a facilitator again after a few years away.

When Katie McDonough, the Chapter’s Director of Programs Public Policy, wanted to launch the ArtMatters program, she reached out to Deborah who studied art at the Virginia Commonwealth College of Art and Design. Together, Deborah and Katie launched the highly successful program. Meeting monthly at two locations in southeastern Virginia, ArtMatters has helped caregivers and their early-stage partners engage with one another. Deborah especially likes the ArtMatters program as it helps caregivers who are often overlooked and frustrated find the resources and engagement that they need.

When Deborah is not volunteering she likes to spend time with her husband Edward of 26 years and teenage daughter Ana. While Deborah has a background in psychology and art, she is now in the process of pursuing a Life Counseling Masters at Regent University. Deborah wants to continue to work to break down a bias towards aging, especially for young people.

We are so fortunate to have Deborah as a dedicated volunteer with our Chapter! To learn more about how you can volunteer, please visit our website at
https://www.alz.org/seva/in_my_community_104988.asp

Why I Walk with Faith Belote

1 Aug

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I walk to honor my father’s memory and my mother’s steadfast love and devotion as his caregiver over a ten-year journey. This couple worked hard and saved for retirement but the travel and relaxation were not as anticipated. An Alzheimer’s diagnosis stole those precious years. This long battle day by day took its toll on my mother until we convinced her that her health was just as important and placed my dad in memory care during the last two years. His death was bittersweet and I do miss him. Even towards the end, his gentle personality showed through the disease.

I walk because I want to see a cure in my lifetime. I want my children and the next generation to be free from Alzheimer’s disease. The health of our nation will be dramatically improved. To make progress, it must be a team effort. Therefore walking with my team and my community is important to the cause and helps to provide hope for the future.

Faith Belote

 

Why I Walk with Mary Stemann

25 Jul

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Mary Stemann remembers when she knew something was different with her husband Robert…She started winning arguments! In time he got more and more confused.  They went to their family doctor and were told that nothing was wrong. This happened more than once. By the summer of 2015, he was having seizures and had become more and more withdrawn. A visit to a neurologist confirmed Alzheimer’s disease. Robert died in 2017, his last months spent in a memory care facility. In looking back, Mary wishes she and her husband had known about the Alzheimer’s Association and their services. She walks so those families and people with Alzheimer’s can realize that they are not alone and information and support are available. She walks in memory of her husband Robert and to raise awareness for these services and to find a cure.

Sign up today at alz.org/walk

May Volunteer Spotlight: Marion Kyner

23 May

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Congratulations to our May volunteer of the month Marion Kyner! Marion first connected with our Chapter in 2011, when she filled in for a caregiver support group facilitator. She has continued to serve in that capacity supporting families in Farmville ever since! Marion loves to volunteer with the Alzheimer’s Association because she likes to help families navigate the difficulties of an Alzheimer’s or dementia diagnosis.

Marion enjoys connecting families to resources, ensuring they do not feel alone when facing Alzheimer’s or a dementia diagnosis. Volunteering as a facilitator for the past 6 years has led Marion to meet many people through her groups. She has enjoyed being a small part of their lives. She is proud that her caregiver support group meetings have a steady attendance. Marion goes above and beyond to help our Chapter increase awareness about services and programs that we offer in Farmville. She often contacts radio shows and local newspapers in Farmville to spread the word about upcoming programs and support group meetings. She also helped organize a small Chapter-sponsored community forum in Farmville. She found and secured representatives of community resources to join attendees at the forum and helped sign up new volunteers for our Chapter.

Marion’s greatest passion is to educate people, facilities, and caregivers on dementia friendly practices. She is currently a certified dementia practitioner and certified care manager at the Woodland Senior Community in Farmville. As an RN, with a Masters in Psychiatric Nursing, Marion helps counsel families and residents going through challenging times. She has led multiple in-services for staff at the Woodland to make their facility a more dementia-friendly environment. In April, she attended the Dementia Friendly Virginia Conference along with our Chapter’s Family Programs Manager, Tracy Erlandson. She hopes to apply the insights from the conference to help make her community a better place to live for those who are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.

When Marion is not working or volunteering she enjoys spending time with her husband, Randy, and her two young adult daughters, Anne and Mary. Together, they like to kayak and spend time outdoors. Faith is also a huge part of Marion’s life and she can often be found volunteering at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Farmville.

We are so fortunate to have Marion as a dedicated volunteer with our Chapter! To learn more about how you can volunteer, please visit our website at https://www.alz.org/seva/in_my_community_104988.asp

April Volunteer Spotlight: Pat Lewis

24 Apr

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Congratulations to Pat Lewis, our April Volunteer of the Month! Pat is a fantastic volunteer and has been instrumental in raising funds for the Alzheimer’s Association® through the Williamsburg Walk to End Alzheimer’s® and volunteering as a facilitator for our early-stage support groups.

When Pat moved back to the area from northern California in 2009, she temporarily lived with a friend in the Port Warwick neighborhood in Newport News. Watching purple-clad participants of that year’s Peninsula Walk from her bedroom window was her first brush with the chapter. Pat retired from Anheuser Busch in late 2011 after 21 years with the company working in various positions within the Operations and People Departments.

Pat became a walk participant and volunteer in the fall of 2013 after losing her uncle, who had been a caregiver for her aunt who had Alzheimer’s. Because of her family’s experience and loss, Pat reached out to the Williamsburg office looking for an opportunity to help other families living with Alzheimer’s. She was the sole member of her walk team that year and still remembers the inspiring sense of hope and commitment shared by participants. In addition to beginning her association with the Alzheimer’s Association in 2013, Pat entered the College of William and Mary where she pursued a Masters in Community and Addictions Counseling. While in graduate school, Pat served as a facilitator for the Alzheimer’s Association early stage support group in Williamsburg. It was the privilege of getting to know these courageous men and women living with this disease every day with strength and integrity increased her belief that “the End of Alzheimer’s begins with me” enough to overcome her insecurities about asking others to help and contribute. In 2014 Pat became the logistics chair for the Williamsburg Walk and continued in the role until 2017 when she took the reigns as Volunteer Event Chair. Pat’s leadership led the Williamsburg Walk to one of its most successful years, with over 800 participants raising close to $154,000!

After graduating in May 2015, Pat worked as a mental health and substance abuse counselor at a local community services board. Normally always on the go, you would be hard-pressed to find Pat relaxing. In her spare time, she does love to garden and work outdoors. In her own words, “nothing is more therapeutic than putting your fingers in the dirt”. Pat also enjoys reading and is a big history buff, planning to visit all the James River plantations this year.

We are so fortunate to have Pat as a dedicated volunteer with our Chapter! To learn more about how you can volunteer, please visit our website at https://www.alz.org/seva/in_my_community_104988.asp

March Volunteer Spotlight: Barbara Hendershot

15 Mar

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Congratulations to Barbara Hendershot, our March Volunteer of the Month! Barbara is a fantastic volunteer and has been instrumental in raising funds for our chapter on the Eastern Shore.

Barbara first connected with our chapter after attending the Eastern Shore Walk to End Alzheimer’s® about 7 years ago with her husband Charles. Her husband had been recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Only a year after their first walk, Charles was moved to Heritage Hall Nursing Center to receive full-time care. Barbara visited her husband daily and met Robin Sexaur, an Alzheimer’s Association volunteer, during these visits. The two became friends and Robin convinced Barbara to join our chapter’s Eastern Shore Alzheimer’s Leadership Council. Since then, Barbara has volunteered to help organize her local Walk to End Alzheimer’s. To raise money for the walk, Barbara places over 30 collecting jars all over the Eastern Shore every walk season. She also loves to sell car raffle tickets and hopes that maybe this year she will sell the winning ticket! Barbara enjoys the work associated with the walk as she loves to stay busy and connect with people who have also been impacted by Alzheimer’s disease.

Unfortunately, Charles passed away in 2016, just a few months shy of their 65th wedding anniversary. Barbara and Charles had grown up together in New Jersey. They met in high school and got married when Barbara was only 16 and he 18. They built their home together with the help of family and friends. As a couple, Barbara and Charles did everything together. They even took a trip across the United States and Canada, living out of a motor home for several weeks together. About 20 years ago, they moved from New Jersey to Schooner Bay to better pursue their love of fishing and other activities. While Barbara still misses her husband, she looks back on their life together fondly and enjoys telling stories of their adventures with her children and grandchildren. Barbara loves to travel to visit her family who are now scattered across the country. She especially loves visiting Florida and taking cruises with her family. Barbara loves cruises for relaxing and wearing fun vacation dresses. Her favorite destinations so far include Aruba and St. Thomas.14732386_1391614904200542_8503304491031486330_n

Now Barbara likes to stay busy as an avid volunteer in the Eastern Shore community. In addition to her involvement with our chapter, Barbara also volunteers at Heritage Hall and loves to help residents find whatever they may need when they go on shopping trips together. She also volunteers as an after-school tutor for children in preschool and kindergarten. She loves to help the young students with their homework and entertains them with games.

A profile of Barbara would not be complete without mentioning her special connection to swans. Barbara often wished for swans to come swim in their cove in Schooner Bay. Amazingly, after her son passed away at the young age of 27, two swans landed in their cove and stayed for about two years. This was a special sign to Barbara as her son had given Barbara two lovely glass blown swans as a gift before he had passed. Now she displays a beautiful lighted swan on her front yard at Christmastime for all of her neighbors to enjoy.

We are so fortunate to have Barbara as a dedicated volunteer with our Chapter! To learn more about how you can volunteer, please visit our website at https://www.alz.org/seva/in_my_community_104988.asp