We are endlessly grateful to our volunteers for giving their time to better the lives of those impacted by Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Our volunteers are truly the heart of the Alzheimer’s Association here in North Carolina.
In honor of National Volunteer Week 2020, we’ll be spotlighting a different volunteer from our Chapter each day. Today we are featuring…
Mary Lou Simmons
What brought you to volunteer with the Alzheimer’s Association?
During the time I cared for my Mom, I had wonderful friends that I could share the painful stories of dealing with the disease, but also share moments that were touching and funny. The ability to have someone to listen is one thing that kept me sane, especially when the stress level was really high. After Mom passed, I wanted to do something to help other caretakers. I keep some of the Alzheimer’s material at work, because now I have friends whose family members are just beginning to experience the disease and I often share the ALZ material so they will understand what is ahead of them.
What volunteer role(s) do you have with the Association?
Alzheimer’s Community Representative
What do you enjoy most about your volunteer role?
Initially, I wanted to be one of the Community Educators, but I’m still working full time so I was not available for that role during most of the education programs. The next best role that fit my schedule was the health fairs, which are usually on the weekends. I enjoy passing out the education material, but I especially like giving people an ear that they can talk to about their fear of the disease, how to cope with the daily struggles, and how to prepare as the disease progresses.
What piece of your role do you feel makes the biggest impact?
Providing education material in a quick, easy to understand format is a great way for people to quickly learn about the disease and the different resources that are available. I also believe that I can pass on information I learned from taking care of my Mom. People often feel guilty over some of the feelings they may have as a caregiver and I believe I can help relieve some of the guilt just by listening and letting them know that those feelings are normal.
If someone were considering volunteering with the Association, what would you say to them?
People often believe that their contributions will not make a difference, but the most precious contribution is the gift of time. If each of us could give a small amount of time by helping raise funds or passing out material, it can make a difference.
THANK YOU, MARY LOU
Volunteers truly help move our mission forward. Interested in becoming a volunteer with the Alzheimer’s Association in NC?
Visit alz.org/get-involved-now/volunteer or call 800-272-3900.