Mary Frances is a long time volunteer and advocate at the Southeastern Virginia Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. She started with the chapter back in 1997, after her mother, Frances Wade Newsome, passed away as a result of Alzheimer’s disease. Before her mother died, Mary Frances had promised her mother she would help other people with dementia. Mary Frances connected with the chapter and started a support group at the Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Franklin, VA. Mary Frances and The Rev. David Johnson, from Sedley Baptist Church, were trained by Chapter staff to each be a facilitator of a support group, for their area. Together they helped many families and caregivers find the support they needed. In 1998, she was appointed to our chapter’s Board of Directors. Then, in 1999, she became employed as the chapter’s full-time Educational Outreach Coordinator, working out of the Emmanuel Episcopal Church. Sadly, in December of 2000, Mary Frances was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s. As a result, she had to step down from her full-time position in 2001. The diagnosis further fueled her passion to make a difference as a dedicated volunteer and advocate. Mary Frances and her supportive husband, Jimmy, secured a building for the chapter in 2005. She and Jimmy enlisted the help of community volunteers to clean up and rebuild the vacant structure to fit the needs of the Association. Due to damage from severe flooding, the office was closed in 2010.
Mary Frances continues to be an extremely committed volunteer. In fact, she and Jimmy have been publicly recognized by the chapter as Outstanding Volunteers. Currently, she co-facilitates a support group in Franklin which meets every 2nd Wednesday of the month, as well as assists with managing support group facilitators in the area. She and Jimmy are still good friends with Executive Director of the SEVA Chapter, Gino Colombara and his wife Grace.
When Mary Frances is not volunteering with the chapter, she and Jimmy also volunteer at the Episcopal Church in Franklin where they assist at the camp grounds over the summer and manage activities at the church. Mary Frances is also a self-proclaimed animal fanatic and cherishes her beloved dog Candy Campbell, a Dachshund-Pug mix.
We are so thankful to have Mary Frances as both a dedicated volunteer and advocate! If you are interested in volunteering with our chapter, you can learn more information on our website at http://www.alz.org/seva/in_my_community_104988.asp