“My name is Ashley, I am 17, and I am a rising senior at Huntington Beach High School. I was a volunteer at Alzheimer’s Family Center (AFC) this past summer. I came twice a week for two consecutive months. I love doing art so I assisted Gloria Martinez, the Activities Coordinator, with the art therapy sessions.”
For a good number of years, Joyce has generously given her time and great artistic skills to Alzheimer’s Family Center, photographing our patients, staff, and community events for our website and other communications materials.
How did you start volunteering for Alzheimer’s Family Center (AFC)?
Shortly after my mother’s journey with Alzheimer’s ended, I felt the draw to do something to honor her. My mom was a very creative artist. She also was a giving person and often created works of art just out of generosity for others! Wedding dresses, cakes, hand sewn clothing, baked goods, paintings, holiday ornaments, flower arrangements… The list of things she created with her hands and heart and gave to those she loved was amazing. Her giving spirit has always been in me and so is her creativity. When I felt the draw to volunteer it felt most natural to give like she gave of herself, artistically with my photography skills.
How do you feel connected to our mission?
I feel connected in so many ways! For many years, my sister and I cared at home for my mom every day. We made mistakes, we felt alone, we were afraid, we got frustrated. Being a caregiver is “work” like NO OTHER. Hindsight, I would never take back the years of work because it was also years of joy! The one thing I want for all caregivers, however, is the ability to take a break and for them to feel safe with leaving their loved ones with someone else. AFC is perfect for this purpose! The patients AFC serves are cared for like family and their families have the opportunity to live and love them through this difficult disease.
What do you like about your volunteering job with AFC?
The feeling that I get when I see your smiles. I love seeing the patients and the activities they participate in at the center. By far my favorite was last year when I was taking photos of the music class. Everyone participated, told stories, laughed… and I cried. I forgot I was there to take photos. I wish all caregivers could give their loved ones these experiences.
Where are you from and are your passions in life?
I spent the first 40 years of my life in Minnesota. In 2011, we made the amazing decision to move to Southern California and have lived in Irvine since. We love it here and don’t plan to go anywhere else. Passion: LOVE. I just want to give, receive and make sure this world (even my small part of it) puts Love before anything else. I know first-hand how quickly life goes and how short life can be, and I would not be able to exist without the love from family, friends, and clients.
Joyc Golden is a talented professional photographer. You can view her portfolio at www.graceparkdesign.com