By Kara Jacobsen
Lindsey Proctor initially connected with Alzheimer’s San Diego as an ALZ Companion volunteer in 2019. She was matched with a local family and was happy to learn more about the disease while providing necessary respite care for those in need.
While volunteering, Lindsey asked for a letter of recommendation from Volunteer Director Adrianna McCollum to help with her job search. Instead, Adrianna surprised her with news of a job opening for the new role of Volunteer Coordinator! It was an unexpected turn of events, but now Lindsey’s been able to help volunteers from many different walks of life connect to the organization’s mission through programs like VITALZ (Volunteers in Touch!) and the ALZ Companion Program.
LEARN MORE | VITALZ (Volunteers in Touch!) program
Lindsey is originally from San Diego. She moved to New York as a teenager and attended SUNY Empire State College, double majoring in English and Sociology. While working as a grocer there, she had her first encounter with a customer with dementia, a woman named Lynn, although Lindsey wasn’t aware of her condition at the time. Lindsey remembers her struggling at the register, dumping out $300 and confusing different currency. Unsure of what exactly was going on, Lindsey took it upon herself to meet the woman for coffee and tried to connect her with different social services as Lynn seemed a danger to herself.
Fast forward to her moving back to San Diego, Lindsey was looking for volunteer work as a way to break into the nonprofit world. She reached out to different local organizations and was excited about our volunteer program. Going through the ALZ Companion training, Lindsey learned a lot about dementia. As a big music fan herself, Lindsey was most fascinated to learn how listening to music can still be a meaningful, stimulating activity for people with dementia. She also learned that dementia causes changes in the five senses – numbing of the hands, eyesight deterioration, loss of taste, smell, every little thing. She wasn’t aware that the disease can also cause visual impairments like tunnel vision, and how these differences in perception play a large role in the challenges care partners face.
Lindsey found her experience volunteering at Alzheimer’s San Diego enriching.
“There’s nothing quite like it in the world. It’s an opportunity that invites maturity and responsibility. And the more you volunteer, the more you see the clients as people and get to hear their unique stories,” she shares.
VOLUNTEER | Find opportunities to get involved
The volunteers at Alzheimer’s San Diego surprise and amaze Lindsey daily. From those who come in not knowing much about memory loss, to those who know it well – they all seem to learn something new from the experience.
“I love a lot of their attributes. They are kind, empathetic, and dedicated to a cause no one’s asking them to be dedicated to,” Lindsey explains. “From a clinical perspective the disease is very tragic. But it’s inspiring to have families who have just lost someone to it want to come back and pay it forward.”
Learn about open volunteer opportunities by clicking here or calling 858.492.4400.