Wednesday, 12 June 2002

The Gracious Kindness That Supports Your Mission

As a volunteer for the Alzheimer's Association, a member of my state task force on Alzheimer's disease, and the daughter and sister of two beautiful women who were stolen from me by dis horrendous disease, I have undertaken a mission of education and interaction with others in my state. Living in the rural part of my of Nevada, which defines about 95% of the total land and a small percentage of the total population, we are often overlooked when it comes to information and education. Yes, there are tele-communication opportunities and occasional live presentations, but the hands-on, daily connection is missing. I decided that it was time to hit the road (about 1,200+ miles worth thus far) with posters and brochures full of facts, figures, and available resources for those with the disease, their families and caregivers. It has been a terrifically rewarding experience.

Because most of the population of Nevada lives in Las Vegas, and the next largest group resides in the Reno-Carson City area, we in the rurals, lovingly referred to as the cow counties, miss out. Since I am retired, have time to spare, and can finance such an endeavor, I ordered materials and began my pilgrimage. A dear friend in the Department of Aging and Disabilities Services learned of my plan and discovered funding to aid my venture and away my husband and I traveled on two circles of rural Nevada - a counter-clockwise voyage west and south, then north and back home and then a second circuit east and south, then north and home. The people, places, and sights have been fantastic and gratifying, reaffirming my belief in the goodness of people and the value of sharing knowledge.

With materials in hand, we visited every sheriff or police department, highway patrol, clinic and/or care facility, library, and senior center with an occasion post office tossed in. Every person (minus two) I met was glad to see me and happy to know that someone was looking out for them and their fellow citizens. Many requested presentations of varying dimensions including symptoms, resources, and ways to handle difficult situations. Many others had personal stories to share, seeking advice and direction. The two negative encounters with "no one in this town cares and we are not interested" surprised me after all of the positive responses. Small and rural I realize this community is dedicated to self-care without reliance on outsiders, but I also know that some people in this town are not receiving the care and information they need and deserve.

After each trip I have received phone calls for follow-up, more information and brochures, or an invitation to return. I knew there was interest just as I knew most people like being informed, but each contact is empowering and exciting. I have been a part of Frontier Days and library shows with several more scheduled. Wow! Is the best rejoinder I have for these.

Do you have a personal mission on your mind? Maybe it has to do with Alzheimer's and other dementias, or maybe it is cancer, heart disease, child or spousal abuse, and myriad other topics. We each have an itch within, a drive to share and help others. Study your calendar, inventory your funds, check your map, read about services already available and those for which there is a need, and then organize your own plans and procedures for making a positive difference in the lives of others. You may find a trip around your neighborhood is ample for your calling or you may be on to something bigger. Regardless of your passion, listen and hear and then act. Your actions will be worthwhile and fulfill a need as well as enrich your being. Have fun and enjoy.