“I look forward to those smiles every week!”
That’s what one resident at Cape Memory Care said to Michelle Girard-Lynds about how she feels about the Pine Tree Society Community Services Program members who volunteer there every week.
Michelle is a direct support professional for Pine Tree Society’s Community Services Program in Scarborough. Every Tuesday, she and the people in her program arrive at Cape Memory Care with one goal in mind: to make a difference.
“They absolutely love it! I am so proud and look forward to watching them grow in this. The most rewarding thing is how much this group truly feels like they are making a difference.”
The residents of Cape Memory Care are living with Alzheimer’s disease or other memory impairments. The people in Michelle’s group are adults with disabilities who she works with to help develop the skills they need to live healthy, socially connected lives. Volunteerism is an important part of the program.
“It’s a great relationship that has developed and everyone involved looks forward to spending time together,” said Albert L’Etoile, executive director for Woodlands Assisted Living and Cape Memory Care. “I’d be hard pressed to determine who is benefitting more from this relationship.”
For Noel Sullivan, president and CEO of Pine Tree Society, bringing people together in the community and forming relationships is what the Community Support Program is all about. “This program with Cape Memory Care is the perfect example of how people’s lives are positively impacted when connections are made in the community.”
Michelle plans all the activities with the people in her group, then, together, they facilitate the activities at the center. Gradually, the group members have taken on more responsibility planning and doing the activities with the residents on their own.
“They walk in confidently and feel important because they know the people look forward to seeing them. They have a sense of success because they feel needed.”
From memory trivia to calling bingo, making floral arrangements and balloon volleyball, every week, they know they are making a difference in the residents’ lives.
“We’re having a lot of fun. They’re at a point where friendships are forming and sometimes it’s low key and they just visit over coffee. They love making a difference and, in turn, I’ve seen a big difference being made in them.”