Volunteer Spotlight: Michelle Ly

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As we celebrate National Volunteer Week this week, we’d like to sincerely thank all of our volunteers who’ve fought in the trenches and made the strides with us. We hope you can feel the difference you’re making in the lives of those facing Alzheimer’s. We hope you realize how valuable your efforts are to future generations. We hope you know how much we appreciate your generosity and commitment.

Our volunteers come from different walks of life but what they all have in common is that they’re dedicated leaders who will not rest until Alzheimer’s is ended. Below is the story of Michelle Ly – one of the many inspiring people we feel so lucky to work with.

I do not have Alzheimer’s, nor am I caregiver for someone who does. My family is one of the few, untouched by a disease that knows no bounds. As a volunteer on the Alzheimer’s Association’s 24/7 Helpline, I find myself again, one of the few-one without a personal connection to the disease. At least, that’s what I believed.

Little did I know, Alzheimer’s disease was affecting the lives of many of the dear people in mine. After finding out about my involvement at the Association, many people in my life revealed their personal connections to the disease, connections I was previously, and completely, unaware of. My best friend from high school, whom I’ve known for over 15 years, shared with me her grandfather’s struggle with dementia. My co-worker and friend shared her story: a hard-fought battle against dementia that ultimately took her father’s life in October 2015, and the list continues. I quickly realized how many people are silently suffering. Nobody should have to go through this alone. What started as a desire to help people and gain clinical experience in my field (I recently graduated from San Jose State with my B.A. in Psychology) quickly became personal.

As a Helpline volunteer, I offer support to the unsung heroes of this devastating disease, those serving as caregivers to their mothers, fathers, spouses, grandmothers, siblings. I am responsible for answering questions regarding Alzheimer’s disease, providing caregiving tips, and connecting callers to services and resources offered by the Association and available throughout the community. But perhaps, my greatest responsibility is offering emotional support-letting the caller know they are not alone in this fight. I hear the struggles and the frustrations and I’ve sat through the tears. I’ve wanted at times to reach through the phone and offer a hug. While every call is different, and no situation the same, one thing remains constant: love. Beneath the pain and the struggles, I hear and feel the love. Through it all, love reverberates. It is the reason I do what I do and no doubt, the reason our callers call. I believe in love, and I have hope – hope that one day, through the work of the dedicated, compassionate, and loving people of the Alzheimer’s Association, we will live to see a cure and a world without Alzheimer’s.

Until that day comes, I will continue to volunteer. I am honored and proud to be part of this vision and I hope that others will join me!

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