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I had a fall while on vacation that had me wheelchair bound for a week and now hopping around on crutches. It has been a powerful learning experience that has given me a much better understanding of how our clients probably feel, and the demands limited mobility places on their caregivers.
From having little discretionary time I suddenly have all the time in the world. Just as well as it takes me half an hour to shave, wash and get dressed. Yet it is important to me to be able to do it all myself and I think that is the first big lesson. It is natural for others to want to help, and there are times when I welcome it, but for the most part I need to be self-sufficient.
I think it likely that even with some memory loss that need is still there. It is so tempting when one of our clients is doing a jigsaw puzzle to pop pieces in. That is not what she needs. She just needs the pieces in reach.
Our clients in wheelchairs want to control their own movements. I now understand why.
I have always had great respect for caregivers. Now that my wife, who works full-time, is also caring for me I have a much better appreciation of the demands caregivers face. Society needs to do much more to support them. Indeed caregiver support is one of ASEB’s strengths and an area we are putting more resources into.
My best to you all,
Last time around, you heard from one of our four international interns, Burcu Kilinc. This month, we give the spotlight to Fred Verbogen, who is also part of the Collabriv internship program. Fred shares some of the highlights from our 25th Anniversary Fundraiser. Take it away, Fred!
Alzheimer’s Services of the East Bay marked its 25th anniversary with a fundraising gala titled “The Magic of ASEB” that celebrated two-and-a-half decades of providing excellent care to individuals living with memory decline. Held at the Claremont Country Club, the celebration drew 180 guests who gathered on a beautiful Saturday evening on May 4, 2013. The crowd grooved to live jazz performed by The Astronauts, sipped wine, and socialized with friends. They previewed the raffle packages and items donated for live and silent auction before taking their seats for the 7pm dinner.
The dining room was filled with food, laughter, and joy as guests enjoyed hand-carved roast beef and turkey breast, pasta, and selections from the cold table. After viewing the memorial video, guests listened to keynote speaker Frances Kakugawa , who delivered a passionate address and recited from her poem, “Emily Dickinson, I Am Somebody.” The author of a number of books, including Mosaic Moon: Caregiving Through Poetry, Kakugawa was her mother’s caregiver before she passed away with Alzheimer’s. Next the audience was treated to a video that chronicled ASEB’s growth over the years. Former ASEB executive directors Diane Wong and Karen Grimsich, and current director Micheal Pope, shared their passion, love, and commitment with the audience, casting the perfect spell for the celebration of the 25th anniversary.
For the grand finale, Patrick Walsh, one of the event’s stars who has contributed his services for many years, auctioned beautifully-framed paintings by ASEB participants as well as by professional artists. As always, Patrick’s enthusiasm and engaging manner drew all the guests into the experience, and everyone had a phenomenal time. The gala event raised approximately $43,000, a magnificent increase of $19,000 over the amount raised in 2012. Truly the magic of ASEB!
This month I’m delighted to turn my blog over to my first guest blogger Burcu Kilinc, who is one of our Collabriv interns. Part of our vision here at ASEB is to expand our mission beyond the region and into the international sphere. Our partnership with Collabriv, an organization that brings university students and early-career professionals from all nations to the U.S. to learn collaboration skills, is an important step in that direction. In March, four young people from Turkey, Zambia, Singapore, and Belgium walked through our doors, eager to learn what we do at ASEB, and to share their own knowledge as they collaborate with our staff to develop our marketing, outreach, social media, and training initiatives. Without further ado, here is Burcu:
My name is Burcu Kilinc and I was born in Turkey 26 years ago. I am doing a master’s degree in International Political Economy. While I was working on my bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, I began volunteering at Habitat, an organization that works to increase youth awareness for sustainable development and livable environments, youth participation in decision making, and to involve youth in partnerships with governments, local authorities, and the private sector.
After graduating, I worked professionally at Habitat for three years, traveling throughout Turkey and the rest of the world. One of the many things I learned is that, if you want to change something big, you should start small, in your own community. Individual acts have a huge effect on the big picture. I have great faith in my generation, who—despite social and political problems—have already started to change their communities with their vision and energy. I believe that if young people are given the chance, they can have a positive impact on the world around them.
We want to change the way people think about memory loss and to expand the public’s awareness about how we can care for people with dementia. One visit to ASEB will change your mind.”
I joined the Collabriv program to improve my professional skills and to learn how NGOs function in the United States. I wanted to understand how nonprofits in the U.S. give people the opportunity to serve their communities, and I wanted to devote my own energies to an organization that betters society.
When Dwight Wilson, CEO and co-founder of Collabriv, told me that I was going to work with ASEB, my first reaction was, “Okay, but I don’t know anything about Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.” Dwight told me that I would be working with an amazing leader, Micheal Pope, and that I would be helping with ASEB’s re-branding campaign and promotion for their 25th Anniversary fundraiser. He said that I would love it, and he was right. I’m so glad I trusted him because from the first day I began working at ASEB, I saw what a truly special place it is.
My stereotypes about elder care and dementia are shattered with each passing day. ASEB does so many amazing things not only for people who live with memory loss, but for the whole community. Working with a woman like Micheal Pope—a mother, a leader, and an inspiration—gives me so much hope for myself and for the future of the world. Her passion is contagious. Every intern feels her energy which she shares so freely with everyone she meets. It makes you want to do your best, to give of yourself, to get involved, and to make a difference.
Times passes so quickly. I have already spent one month at ASEB. I learn something new every day and am so grateful that I work for an organization where people are happy with their jobs and come to work every morning with a smile and a hello for their coworkers and the people who participate at the center. The other interns and I come from different backgrounds, cultures, and beliefs, but we all want to contribute our best to ASEB. We have so many ideas! One of our goals is to share our enthusiasm with everyone we meet, and to spread the word about what a wonderful organization ASEB is. We want to change the way people think about memory loss and to expand the public’s awareness about how we can care for people with dementia. One visit to ASEB will change your mind. Please stop by and share your feelings with us!
First of all, please save the date. Our 25th anniversary celebration and Art from the Heart Fundraiser will be held on Saturday, May 4th. We have a wonderful new venue, fabulous food, entertainment, and keynote speaker Frances H. Kakugawa, who is a poet, writer, and teacher. Of course we have our popular art auction, raffle, and silent auction. Best of all we’ll have a chance to celebrate together, enjoy each other’s company, and reflect on where we’ve been and where we’re going.
Which brings us to theme of this year’s celebration: The Magic of ASEB.
We’re not talking about just the every day miracles that happen at ASEB—the families that find solutions to the challenges they face in caring for a loved one with memory loss; our program participants whose emotional and physical health, mobility, and mental alertness suddenly improve when they find themselves in a caring social environment; caregivers who feel that their own lives have been returned to them with the respite they receive from ASEB; and volunteers whose lives take on new meaning because of the time they donate to the service of others—though of course all of these are of vital importance. We’re also talking about the spirit of ASEB, the vision of everyone involved from the very beginning to the present day, and the many times we’ve faced what seems like insurmountable adversity and still managed to thrive.
An example that comes to mind happened sixteen years ago, during my first week on the job at ASEB. I was the Program Director of our San Leandro center and, as has often happened during the course of our history, we were facing a dire financial situation. Though I wasn’t aware of it, while I was at my desk in San Leandro, ASEB’s Executive Director Karen Grimsich was meeting with the board of directors. They were trying to figure out how to cover that week’s payroll. Push had come to shove and the members of the board were getting out their checkbooks to pay our staff from their own pockets. At that moment, someone walked into my office and handed me a check for a considerable amount of money. I phoned Karen, who asked me the amount of the check. “Bring it here, right away,” she said when I told her. The check covered all but five dollars of the payroll, and the crisis was averted.
This has happened again and again. Though we work hard to write grants, develop our fundraising, and solicit donations, we have often been saved by interventions from out of the blue, a person or group that came through at the very moment we needed them. The City of Berkeley helped us when we needed a new roof, and again when we needed a deck. One woman, who had never stepped foot inside ASEB, remembered us in her will because one of our busses passed by her house on its daily route. And so, instead of having to shut our doors, as so many organizations similar to ours have done, we’re still here. And we’re growing. Thanks to ASEB’s magic, we have plans to expand our influence to reach beyond the Bay Area, beyond California, to the rest of the world.
The key to ASEB’s magic is that we have stayed true to our beliefs, to the principles on which our organization was founded. From the very beginning, before the concept of person-centered care even had a name, we put the needs of our families and participants first, and we have never strayed from that model. We have always looked at ASEB as a place where we build relationships—with our families, our staff, our supporters, our board members, our volunteers and interns, and our community. That has been our rock, the strength that has allowed us to continue when others have failed, because we stay connected with the talent, energy, and commitment that fuels our vision. The good feeling and energy of our friends and family become who we are, and we know we can draw on it again and again. That’s how we went from a Mom and Pop operation with an annual budget of $12,000, a staff of four that served one person a day—to an organization that now has a budget of $2.7 million, a staff of 50, and 130 people currently enrolled, agency-wide.
I hope many of you will experience this magic firsthand at our anniversary celebration. I promise you’ll see why people keep coming back, and why we’ve been blessed with supporters who’ve been with us through thick and thin over the years. I’m optimistic that the commitment of each individual, the spirit of everyone who has come before us, and the love we have for each other will continue to make the magic we need to carry our work into the future.
With many thanks for all you do,
Executive Director, ASEB
This month’s blog comes courtesy of ASEB Board President Lance Reynolds
The world’s religions and our grandparents have always known the benefits of practicing thankfulness—think Grace before meals and our nation’s tradition of celebrating Thanksgiving. But Thanksgiving and other holiday times can be stressful too, particularly for caregivers of those with memory loss or other disabilities.
Recently scientists have taken notice of their grandmothers’ advice and are finding people who practice gratitude consistently report a host of benefits:
• Stronger immune systems and lower blood pressure
• Higher levels of positive emotions
• More joy, optimism, and happiness
• Acting with more generosity and compassion
• Feeling less lonely and isolated
This year UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, just round the corner from ASEB Berkeley on Atherton Street, launched a $5.9 million, three-year gratitude project with support from the John Templeton Foundation.
Last year Oprah Winfrey, who has kept a gratitude journal for a decade, launched Oprah’s Thank You Game, which will attempt to spread gratitude around the world through an interactive Facebook app.
As ASEB’s Board President and a regular Wednesday afternoon volunteer at our Berkeley Center, I am very conscious of the many challenges our family caregivers face. While I am thankful for how frequently our caregivers express their gratitude to our amazing staff, I’ve been wondering if conscious gratitude practices might ease the pressures and stresses that caregivers face every day.
But before suggesting anyone else keep a gratitude journal, I thought I should try it myself. Only three weeks of keeping the journal got me into the habit of thinking about what I have to be grateful for before I go to sleep, when I wake up in the night, and before I get up. I don’t know if my blood pressure is lower but I do feel I have more joy, optimism, and happiness, and I can better deal with adversity. I am also much more aware of others showing gratitude. I now realize how gifted our program participants are at expressing their gratitude, whether it’s verbally, or just with a smile.
Do you have a regular gratitude practice? How has it affected your life? I would love to hear from you, and invite you to email me at the address below. If you don’t have a formal way of acknowledging the blessings in your life, why not give it a try? You might want to experiment with one of the smart phone apps that allow you to keep a digital journal, with daily reminders and the capability of uploading photos or emailing a selection to friends. In my experience, even a small effort brings about abundant rewards.
Right now, I am grateful for the difference ASEB has made in my life and that of so many others. I’m also thankful for this opportunity to wish all of you happiness and abundance during the New Year.
Judith Nelson was one of the world’s most famous singers of Baroque music. In the San Francisco Bay Area, she was one of the founders of the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra. She has about 70 recordings to her credit, including her role as first soprano on the Christopher Hogwood Messiah, recorded in Westminster Abbey in 1980 for BBC TV. Philharmonia’s Music Director Nicholas McGegan said, “Though Judy sang like a goddess, she was no diva. She was smart, funny, a wonderfully supportive colleague, and a joy to be with.” Judy’s husband, Alan Nelson, is Professor Emeritus in the English Department at UC Berkeley. From 2008 until 2012, Judy was a participant in the day program at ASEB’s Berkeley Center. “ASEB was everything you could hope for,” Alan says. “I absolutely appreciated the fact that they took such good care of Judy, made so much of her. I really felt she was in such good, caring hands.”
Alan says that it was 12 years ago when he began noticing a change in his wife. “I keep coming back to when things started, and it was in the year 2000 that I realized there was a problem. She would ask the same question several times, even though I’d just answered it. Then it became about as difficult a situation as you can imagine. There was no high drama, but clearly there was mental deterioration.”
Everyone at ASEB seemed to take such a personal interest in Judy…they were so supportive and showed a sense of appreciation of what she had done and who she was.”
Alan managed the first six years of Judy’s memory loss without any help. He retired early, in 2003, in part to take care of Judy, though he still did some teaching. As his wife needed more care, Alan relied on the help of relatives, first a niece who moved into his house for a year. Later, when Judy required more attention, their daughter and her husband moved in with them for two years. In 2008 Alan contacted ASEB. “I knew about it because I passed the sign many times,” he says. Judy began by attending the day program three days a week, eventually increasing her participation to five days a week.
“At first she didn’t like the fact that we had to pass a sign that said Alzheimer’s,” Alan recalls. “She would say, ‘What are we doing here? I don’t have Alzheimer’s.’ But there are blessings to losing short term memory loss because once we passed the sign she didn’t think about it anymore. She was content to go. She was very happy that people admired her and hugged her, said hello to her, and kept her busy. She really liked the lunches and she enjoyed being with people.
“Everyone at ASEB seemed to take such a personal interest in Judy,” Alan continues. “They knew that Judy had been a singer. I brought a CD and they played the music. And I brought a DVD of the Messiah that she was in and they played that. It was so supportive and showed a sense of appreciation of what she had done and who she was.”
Alan remembers with a chuckle that his wife liked to hold people’s hands, and that she was always reaching out and taking someone’s hand in her own. “She had an iron grip,” he says. “This was fine when it was a member of the staff, but they had to look out for her when she held hands with other participants. One of them was a colleague of mine from the English Department. Judy took his hand and wouldn’t let go. My colleague objected, and the staff had to separate them. Sweet Judy, it’s so amusing to think about because she’s the last person on earth who would want to offend anybody.”
During this time, Alan enlisted two students from UC Berkeley to help out. “I gave them a place to live in exchange for helping to look after Judy and they became a part of our life,” he says. One of the students arranged for the UC Berkeley Jazz Band to perform for the participants at ASEB. “I know that ASEB feels that they benefited so much through the undergraduate students bringing the band to play, but I feel that it was great for ASEB to be so accommodating and cooperative. They made a big effort. We really felt like we were part of their family, like they were supporting us by supporting our friends and caretakers.”
Alan says that his wife enjoyed the arts program that ASEB pioneered. “All the seasonal festivities, the special days when the participants wore hats or Halloween costumes were very nice,” he says. “They gave people a sense they were participating in the world around them.”
The last six months that Judy participated at the Berkeley Center, she arrived via ASEB’s van service. “That was wonderful,” her husband says. “James was her driver and he was so cheery and so much fun. He had his little routines that he would say for every day of the week. We got to like James a lot. He always seemed to like Judy, and he liked to take care of her. It’s a great service.”
Alan also has lavish thanks for Geri Degen, the ASEB social worker who guided the Nelsons’ relationship with ASEB. “I have nothing but praise for Geri,” Alan says. “Everything I say includes a compliment for her. She was with us all the way through. She took a genuine interest in us.”
Judy died peacefully on May 28, 2012, at the close of her 12-year battle with Alzheimer’s disease. On the 10th of September, Judy’s birthday, a memorial concert was held at the First Congregational Church in Berkeley, across the street from the ASEB center. Hundreds of people from all over the world attended, including many of Judy’s colleagues—musicians she had performed with over the years. The concert was a tribute to her life, to the many friends she had made, to the music she was passionate about, and the joy she had brought to so many people through the gift of her voice.
At Alan’s request, the reception following the concert was held at ASEB’s Berkeley Center. “Judy had a lot of friends and it was a chance for everybody to get together,” Alan says. “It wonderful to have the reception across the street. Geri was instrumental in coordinating the gathering. ASEB was splendid. We really couldn’t have hoped for a lovelier tribute.”
ASEB has just begun its official 25th anniversary year, and I am ready to celebrate. With everything we do at ASEB, it’s sometimes hard to remember to take time to stop, look around, and appreciate what we have. First on our list is to thank all of you—the supporters who believe in us, who have stuck with us over the years, and whose generosity allows us to continue. This year we’re opening our doors and inviting you in so that we can connect with you face-to-face, shake your hand, and tell you in person how important you are to us.
We’re planning a series of events that will give us the chance to connect with you throughout the coming year. We’ll have cocktail parties, open houses, meet-and-greets with our board members, and of course our annual Art from the Heart fundraiser in May, which during this anniversary year will be bigger and better than ever. Please sign up for our newsletter, join our Facebook page, and check our website to keep current with what’s coming up.
Our first festivity is right around the corner. On November 8, ASEB will host an Open House at our Hayward Center on 561 A Street, Hayward, CA. You are cordially invited to join us for delicious hors d’oeuvres and wine from local Bay Area vineyards. It promises to be a wonderful event and I sincerely hope to see you there.
And so, at this traditional time of harvest and thanksgiving, I’m looking forward to thanking you in person for the gifts you bring to ASEB. I hope you’ll find the time to join one of our celebrations, to relax, to enjoy each other’s company, and to have fun.
Executive Director, ASEB
For the past ten years, I’ve spent my summer vacation running a one-week camp-designed curriculum for kids. Fifty to 100 kids ranging from ages two to twenty come from all over Contra Costa County to join us. The camp is free. I round up about twenty volunteers to help me. Each year there is a different theme.
I had been extremely moved by a presentation of the Marine Mammal Center in Marin County, and this year I decided to take the kids there. I wanted them to meet their sister and brother mammals, to show them how to be good stewards of the earth and oceans, and to explain why it’s important to be kind to all creatures. I hoped to teach them that by caring for these animals, they were caring for all life, including themselves. So I dressed up as Mother Ocean, complete with a black skirt and huge umbrella decorated with fish, and I met the kids as they arrived for their first day of camp.
The first thing we did was take off our Cool Jackets. That’s right, nobody was allowed to be cool. I had each and every kid remove the layer that made him or her behave a certain way—tough, or bad, or indifferent, or bored. When they’d shed that, I told them to put on their Me Jackets, the real me, and I challenged them to be their true selves the entire time they were at camp. If somebody slipped, we’d say, “Oops, looks like you’ve got your Cool Jacket on.”
We sang, we danced, we learned. “Nothing created on this earth is junk” was one of the lessons. It all has to be treated with respect. Another lesson was that we all have the obligation to be the best we can be. This kids collected bottles to exchange for money they donated to the Marine Mammal Center. They took the job seriously, very seriously. You’ve never seen so many bottles. They also collected pencils that they sent to children in Guatemala. They were thrilled to receive letters thanking them for their gift. We made cookies, and we had a water fight where the most fun seemed to be in drenching me. The last night, we camped overnight on the church campus lawn. I brought my telescope, and the kids learned about astronomy. Of course we made S’mores.
On Friday, when the parents came to pick the kids up, I was exhausted. I had forfeited a week’s salary, and a vacation where I might have rested from my job. I had given up a holiday with my own kids, where we might have taken a trip together and seen some new sights. Yet, watching these children—who had been strangers just a few days before and who I might never see again—get in their parents’ cars and drive away, I felt an overwhelming sense of abundance, of gratitude, and of joy. They had opened themselves up to me and I had spent a week surrounded by their hope, their enthusiasm, their sense of wonder and generosity, and yes—their love. One five-year-old boy had told me, “I love you, Miss Micheal. I’m going to pray for you every day,” I have no doubt that’s true. We had spent the week being part of the same world, without focusing on the me part. We were all profoundly connected to each other and to the rest of the planet.
I feel this same sense of abundance and of connection in my work at ASEB. When someone at ASEB passes away, and someone from their family comes up and says thank you for making the end of their life so meaningful, I feel successful, gratified, and enriched beyond anything having to do with income and status. I feel successful because I’m doing exactly what I was created to do. My life is abundant because I have the opportunity to give of myself and to witness the effects it has on the world around me.
I believe that we all long for this feeling of connection, and that the capacity to give is crucial to our happiness as human beings. When we serve others without expecting anything in return, it’s life changing. It bestows prosperity beyond material wealth and brings meaning to our lives in ways that no new car, fancy vacation, or dream house can. I am convinced that when you give, you will live abundantly, and you will always have enough. And serving others is addictive—once you’ve started, you don’t want to stop. You have to keep going back for more.
Which leads me to our supporters who come back, year after year. Volunteers who donate their time, contributors who donate their money. We thank you. Part of our goal for this 25th anniversary year is to thank you in person, to shake your hands, to share our accomplishments face-to-face. We rely on your continued support. And for everyone else, please experience the sense of connection and abundance that comes from giving to those who need your help. This is my official invitation to take off your Cool Jackets and join the party.
Executive Director, ASEB
In July we began our new fiscal year, one that marks the beginning of our 25th year of existence. We’ve come a long way since we opened our doors in Berkeley in 1989. From welcoming just 15 participants at the beginning, we now provide services for hundreds of families facing the challenge of memory loss. ASEB is at a crossroads on its journey, and I am using this occasion to meditate on where we’ve been and where we’re going, on what it means to serve a community with such diverse needs, on what we need to do stay on course, and on the steps we need to take to make sure we can continue to provide a safe, caring, and stimulating environment for our participants, and a source of respite and information for caregivers.
We’re marking this 25th anniversary with a new look, a new name, a re-commitment to our core values, and a re-visioning of the way we operate. In September we’re unveiling our new logo, which makes official the name by which we’ve come to be known: ASEB. Officially, we are still Alzheimer’s Services of the East Bay, but as our logo reflects, we’re more than that, much more. As the needs of our community change, we’re dealing with people experiencing many forms of memory loss, as well as other cognitive challenges. Our doors are open to a range of individuals: those younger than 65, military veterans who have special long-term needs, individuals and their families who are looking for guidance in negotiating the labyrinth of mental health social services. People in the field and the community know us as ASEB, and we’re embracing that moniker and the reputation we’ve built around it. So watch our website next month for the new logo, and for the new programs, events, and services we’ll be rolling out throughout our anniversary year.
Beginning in September, we will offer a Care Management/Family Support Program that will assist caregivers with a long-term plan tailored to the personal needs of each family. This comprehensive service provides a single care coordinator who will help families assess their needs in looking after a loved one with memory loss, connecting them with appropriate services, and coordinating all aspects of that individual’s care. ASEB offers its experience and expertise at prices that are substantially below those offered by other organizations. Click here for more information, or call our program director at 510-644-8292.
We will also be rolling out a series of events to bring community, donors, and ASEB staff together so that we can get acquainted, learn from each other, and forge new partnerships. Watch our website for our open houses, smaller gatherings at venues throughout the area, and get-togethers that will give donors and caregivers a chance to become better acquainted. We will also be holding orientations for all of our caregivers. We hope these events will encourage you to share your concerns, to exchange ideas, and to better understand how we can put our combined efforts to the most effective use.
Finally, I want to reassure all of you that, despite the obstacles we’ve encountered this year with the state budget crisis and the transition to the CBAS program, ASEB is still strong, still passionate about its mission, and constantly looking for ways to make sure we thrive no matter what roadblocks are thrown up on our way. As we stand at this crossroads, we’re embracing the heart and spirit of our past and, at the same time, opening ourselves to the challenges of the future. This is an opportunity, and we intend to take full advantage of it.
One part of our logo remains the same: Life is a journey we know by heart. This is true on so many levels. As we embark on the next leg of our trip, I hope you will join us. I invite you to share our path, to add your efforts to ours, and to see where the next 25 years take us.
With warm thanks for your support,
People often ask how I cope with a job that’s so sad. The concern in their eyes is deep and genuine. They wonder how I can go to work every day and witness people who are dealing with memory loss, who are not going to get better, and who rely on the staff at ASEB to help them with the some of the most basic tasks of everyday life.
I understand their fear and the perceptions that underlie it. But I’m here to say that my job is not all doom and gloom. On the contrary, it is deeply fulfilling, it brings happiness and pride—sometimes it’s even fun. That’s because I, and everyone who works at ASEB, are looking at the person—of what remains of their strength and spirit—rather than at the disease, at what they’ve lost.
Don’t get me wrong: Alzheimer’s is a terrible disease. It affects individuals and their loved ones in ways that many of us don’t want to think about. And as our population ages, the disease is reaching epidemic proportions, while the funds needed to care for individuals with memory loss are dwindling. There’s no doubt that we face tremendous challenges, as do our participants and their caretakers. But the people we serve are so capable of giving. And we keep them alive, it’s as simple as that. Knowing that is worth so much.
I invite you to come to ASEB and see for yourself what it’s like. I know that you will learn a lot not just about Alzheimer’s, not just about growing older, not just about memory loss—but about yourself, about your relation to others, about life itself. You will see that life is its moments, the way we relate to each other one-on-one. You will grasp what’s essential in each of our beings, the things that never go away. I witness this transformation every day with interns, volunteers, and staff. They all say that their assumptions were wrong, that they couldn’t imagine how rich the exchange could be. They learn to see the person and not the disease. Volunteers switch careers, interns decide to go to medical school, and young people pursue routes that allow them to work in fields related to health care. Their lives are changed. They get hooked. I’m pretty sure you will, too.
Our staff comes to work each day from a place of non-judgment, from a place of loving care. I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that our staff loves our participants, loves them like family, not because they need to, but because they honestly love and care for them. And believe me, our participants can feel that love. So when all the cognitive differences have been taken away, the person in that moment still remains, the human being, the spirit. We are here with their souls, not their losses. We deal with what is. We’re here with something that’s fresh and new every moment. We’re here because we want to be here. It’s more than a job. Everyone feels it.
Lacking a cure for Alzheimer’s, we help people live with it. We help families make each day a little easier, more enjoyable, and more meaningful. I invite you to change the way you think about memory loss, to see for yourself what makes ASEB so essential. And I ask you to talk to your coworkers, your neighbors, your family. Please spread the word. Visit our website and follow our Facebook page to find out the many ways that you can be a part of our effort.
With warm gratitude for your time and support,