In honour of National Volunteer Week, we at the Alzheimer Society of Toronto wanted to do a little something to thank our outstanding volunteers. To showcase the amazing work that they do as an integral part of our mission, we are featuring volunteer stories on the blog this week. Be sure to check back each day for a new volunteer story! This is Cecile’s story.
As a retired teacher I am always seeking opportunities to volunteer and serve the community, using my skill set where applicable. So why did I pick AST?
My late mother had developed dementia and we witnessed her gradual decline over the course of the last four years of her life.
Needless to say, it was a very difficult journey for both my mother and the loving members of our family. She struggled to maintain her memory and relentlessly fought the ever present cloud of dementia that surrounded her.
I once recall having had a phone conversation with her that lasted 45 minutes, throughout which she was my mother, the same familiar woman I had recognized my entire life, and then as though it was her Cinderella moment, she slipped away from me and returned to her new world, totally unaware of what had transpired over the last 45 minutes.
I will never forget how lucky we both were to have shared those precious minutes…
During my mother’s last four years, our family looked for every opportunity to engage her, stimulate her, make her laugh or smile, even for just a brief moment. And throughout this time it was extremely important to us all that she continuously maintain her integrity and dignity, qualities that she so well-deserved.
Volunteering in the AST Respite Program has allowed me the opportunity to spend a few hours with some remarkable ladies and gentlemen. While their wonderful caregivers are involved in a group session with their designated Social Workers, I have the fortunate pleasure of continually chatting and laughing with these lovely people as we engage in a variety of activities. From singing, listening, and moving to music, to working on a variety of art projects, and even to collaboratively caring for some indoor plants, we all enjoy sharing our stories and delight in learning about each other’s lives, all the while embracing each other’s unique cultural differences. It’s a beautiful world filled with the richness of each of their special lives.
So why did I pick AST?
I want each of my new friends to never stop believing how special they each are, and our role is to collectively always remind them of this fact.
Their memory may fade, but they must never forget how truly amazing they still are and always will be in our eyes and hearts.