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Graham volunteers for experience and to give back

Graham volunteers for experience and to give back

Why do I volunteer?

I volunteer with the Alzheimer Society of Ontario because I want to contribute to the strength of the education and services that the Society provides for Ontarians with dementia and their caregivers. The rise of dementia in our community, its economic impact and its impact on quality of life is a major health care issue. Like many Ontarians, the impact of dementia has affected my family.

What is my background?

As a clinical researcher of cognitive decline, I have met many older adults suffering from cognitive trouble or dementia and have observed its impact on their life and their caregivers. My research aims to better understand the science of cognitive decline and how it may lead to dementia in later life. However, any benefits of my research likely wouldn’t be realized for many years.

What is my impact?

Volunteering with the Alzheimer Society of Ontario allows me to contribute to the management of dementia in the community now. Together, with the public policy and program initiatives team, I am helping to identify key areas of overlap between the strengths of the Society and the needs within the Ontario strategy for dementia care.

Why should you volunteer?

If dementia has had an impact on someone’s life and they would like to join the fight, the Alzheimer Society is an excellent organization to volunteer with. There is a great diversity of opportunities with a wide range of required involvement. And most importantly, the Alzheimer Society is fully committed to improving care and education for those with dementia and their caregivers.

Learn more about volunteering and how to volunteer at the Alzheimer Society.

Graham-photo2Graham Mazereeuw

Volunteer, Alzheimer Society of Ontario

Walk for Memories profile: meet Wendy and Larry Smith

Walk for Memories profile: meet Wendy and Larry Smith

Meet Wendy and Larry Smith. They have been volunteering for the Alzheimer Society’s Walk for Memories in Ottawa since its inception 19 years ago.  Like the Walk, Wendy and Larry have experienced a number of changes during that period of time.

In the beginning, Wendy worked for an Ottawa-based Chartered Accounting firm, Collins Barrow Ottawa LLP, which had encouraged its employees to get involved in the community. The Alzheimer Society was one of a number of organizations that Collins Barrow supported.  Employees and family members alike from the organisation became involved with this great cause.  This was the start of the Smiths ongoing history of volunteering for the Alzheimer Society.

Little did they know that Alzheimer’s disease would touch close to home some years later!

In 1995, the Walk for Memories was based at the Carlingwood Mall.  It was a great place to begin an activity that combined exercise with a good cause. Max Keeping, a local broadcast legend, was an infectious spirit who would lead the bagpiper round the Mall with the walkers following in their footsteps on a quest to raise money for this worthy cause.  In recent years, the Walk for Memories was relocated to its present- day location of Carleton University’s Field House.

Throughout its history, the Walk provided an opportunity for the Smiths and others to gather together as a united front to support this worthy cause. However, it wasn’t long until the annual walk became more meaningful for the Smiths when it was revealed that Wendy’s aunt and Larry’s father were both diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.  While volunteering as a registration pair, it gave them an opportunity to talk to individuals walking for their loved ones who had succumbed to this dreaded disease.  Year after year, they would recognize the walkers, share stories, measure progress against their own loved ones as Alzheimer’s continued to mark progress on the unsuspecting prey.  Collectively, they believed that by participating in the annual Walk they were making a difference in the fight against this debilitating disease.

Although their loved ones have passed on and the goal of a cure has not yet been realized, the Smiths remain committed to supporting the annual Walk for Memories.  Each year, the end of January calls for a renewed commitment to continue the fight against this disease.

Although the faces of past walkers fade away, new faces pick up and the battle continues towards better treatment and – hopefully – a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.

To find a Walk near you, sign up to Walk or support a Walker, visit the Walk website.

larry-smithLarry and Wendy Smith

Walk for Memories Walkers