This month we have partnered with the Alzheimer’s Association and Hilarity for Charity to challenge our members to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s disease in their communities. Kayla Klinzing, a junior at William Paterson University from Midland Park, New Jersey, volunteers to support senior citizens with dementia and organizes fundraisers to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association. Learn more bout Kayla’s work in this guest contributor post.
For the past ten years, I have been devoting my time to senior citizens who have dementia. I conduct both physical activities as well as mental exercises with these patients using games such as hangman. It is a difficult task for not only the residents, but me as well. Volunteering my time with these people takes a large amount of patience and is extremely time consuming. At first, there were times when I tended to get frustrated and uncertain of how to handle specific situations. Looking into these people’s eyes, I knew that they needed my help, so I took a deep breath and assisted them as best as I could. Each time I go, I am better able to understand and support the residents.
Even though most of the time they have no recollection of who I am, they all have their own special place in my heart. I feel that the time I have spent volunteering for the past ten years has made me a stronger person. Seeing the daily struggles each resident goes through has had a major impact on my life. My goal each time is to make sure I can help alleviate their pain and make sure they are happy, even if it may only be for an hour. Every time I go home feeling like I achieved what I went there to do.
When I am not working directly with the senior citizens, I try to find other ways that I can still help them. About five years ago, I started getting into the fundraising aspect of volunteering. Most of the fundraisers that I help plan and run are intended to raise money and awareness for the Alzheimer’s Association. In the beginning it was difficult to approach people about making donations. However, I soon realized that if I feel strongly enough about the cause, people will see my passion and want to contribute as well. Within the last six months, I have helped plan and run a garage sale and car wash to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association. The garage sale was such a huge success that I am currently working on another one that will be held later this month. From the very beginning, I found a love for raising money and awareness for good causes. Ultimately, it has made me realize that I want to go into the field of event management for nonprofit organizations.
One of my biggest qualities is generosity. I tend to always find myself going the extra step to make sure other people are content before I start to worry about me. When I heard about the people who have dementia, I knew I wanted to help them. The greatest feeling in the world is seeing someone smile and knowing that you were the cause of it. When that moment happens, it makes me feel like I made a difference, even if it may have been a tiny one that lasted for a brief second. That is truly what makes me the happiest.
To start raising awareness about Alzheimer’s disease in your own community like Kayla, submit a proposal for our Hilarity for Charity Challenge here.