In the 2010-2011 school year, Michelle Marie founded the University of Florida Alzheimer’s Outreach Organization so that students could foster emotionally rich relationships with residents in the memory ward of an assisted-living facility. In 2016, this organization continues to bring together a small variety of students to Brookdale Senior Living Solutions, formerly known as Emeritus Retirement Home. Every Sunday, from 1 to 3 PM, the club’s officers and volunteers bring their instruments, magazines, books, and unbridled compassion for the elderly to the home. In fact, you may have heard of this club before in the Honors Daily, through their posts and occasional calls for volunteers.

Alzheimer’s Outreach volunteers exclusively visit the residents who suffer from forms of memory loss, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s, and interact with them. Common activities include bingo, one-on-one conversations, walks in Brookdale’s garden, and ice cream socials. Members also have the opportunity to participate in Gainesville’s annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s in October.

One of the most poignant features of the club is why members decide to join—their reasons are often personal, altruistic, or both. Alzheimer Outreach’s Organization’s current vice president, Di Xia, started volunteering in early 2014 because of her experience as one of her grandparents’ caregivers when they were diagnosed with senile dementia in 2012.

“Volunteering with UF Alzheimer’s Outreach gives me the satisfaction of being able to help,” Di shared. “As time goes by, I find that the ties that I have developed with the residents make the volunteering experience even more meaningful.”

In fact, she has a remarkably close friendship with one of the residents. On rare occasions in which Di is unable to volunteer, this resident asks the other volunteers, “Where is Di?”

This organization offers incredible opportunities for first-hand interaction with memory care patients. Its volunteers show passion and dedication, fully embodying the spirit of kindness.

Photo from UF AOO