This year I was nominated for a Service Award For Geriatric Excellence for my work with the Alzheimer Society Guelph-Wellington (ASGW). I am very humbled to have been nominated and be among such phenomenal company in the volunteer category.
I started in the Companion Program where I was matched with a member of the community that was suffering from Alzheimer Disease (AD). My job was to provide recreational support weekly which included anything from going out for walks or even getting schooled in a game of crib by my companion. When I started this program I never thought that I would develop such a strong friendship with the companion and his family. Being a part of the family for the past years has definitely had an impact on me. One that I tend to hold very tightly and very rarely speak of. The reality of the disease has become all too apparent to me. To be completely honest, there are parts of the disease that scare me. The fact that it can be so debilitating the thought of it affecting those directly in my family terrifies me. Perhaps a part of the reason why I have continually been involved with the society. The need to help any way that I can.
Being a psychology and biology student the biological aspects of dementia have perplexed me. Reading a large amount of scientific articles with various explanations for the disease I am still continually frustrated at the inability to treat this disease. From genetic causes right through to environmental causes, the list is endless. When I think of my philosophies on health I cannot help but to think of the nutritional effects and the development of disease. Something that may take hours for me to write about and for now will refrain from speaking of. However, I am almost certain that there is some link to the nutritional changes over the past 25 years that have impacted the rates of dementia in our communities.
Starting as a volunteer companion not only was I able to develop a friendship with my family but I was able to meet the fantastic team at ASGW. The team has openly accepted me as a part of their large team of volunteers. Being a photographer it was almost natural for me to volunteer some of my time and skills to the team. This year we are working on a fundraising piece that involve portraits of persons with dementia. Something that I am so unbelievably proud of! I promise once I am able to speak of full details I will! For now I have to extend my thanks to the ASGW team for allowing me to utilize my creative skill and more importantly trust me on this fundraising endeavour.
Finally, the whole point of this post, last week was the SAGE awards. What a phenomenal experience! The Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum was the perfect backdrop to celebrating the fantastic work in geriatrics. When walking into this venue you could feel the history being held in this room quite similar to every individual in attendance. Thank you to the ASGW team for nominating me, your graciousness has always astounded me, and this nomination truly shows how appreciative you are of all your volunteers.
I was lucky to be accompanied by my sister to this event. We had great food, saw amazing planes, and shared lots of smiles. I am very lucky to have such a supportive sister! Thanks Mel, I love you.