Each semester, we have the pleasure of working with talented students through the Alzheimer’s Project internship program. They each bring unique skills and passions to help us continue our mission. Laura Kelly was an amazing asset to our organization as an intern. Read her story to learn more about her and our internship program.
My journey to the internship at the Alzheimer’s Project has been long and winding. I spent almost a decade of my life in the military. I met great friends, learned tough lessons, and gained skills that I still use today. The people were what I loved the most. Getting to work with others from different cultures and backgrounds as well as being a leader to young Airmen was extremely rewarding. I didn’t know then, but that desire to help and mentor was a seed being planted for future growth.
I have always had a strong desire to be in a profession that helps people. However, I didn’t know much about social work and the many different ways social workers are able to assist others. Thomas University, which had a social work program geared toward non-traditional students, seemed like a good fit. This decision set me on the path to my perfect career field, but I still had to decide which population I wanted to work with and support.
Thankfully, I was fortunate to have former Alzheimer’s Project CEO, Bill Wertman, as an instructor at Thomas University. It was a great introduction to the organization, but I thought that I wanted to work with children. By the time I reached grad school, I had learned more about Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and other challenges faced by the elderly population. When the time came to choose an MSW internship, it was a no-brainer. The Alzheimer’s Project was my first choice. I already knew of the great work they were doing and they had been very helpful in my coursework.
My internship began in May, and it has been beneficial to me personally and professionally. I have been able to work with the case managers and learn the complete process; from assessments with new clients, to leading support groups and working with loved ones in respite rooms. Hearing their stories and getting to know so many wonderful people has been the greatest joy. Although, there have been some tears too. It’s not easy facing the difficulties and sadness of having a loved one with dementia. Yet, the compassion and patience that caregivers have for their loved ones leaves me in awe. I didn’t want my Alzheimer’s Project internship to end.
Thankfully, I will be continuing this journey as a Rural Outreach Case Manager! My position will be to go into surrounding counties and extend the support offered by the Alzheimer’s Project. We know there are people in need of services who aren’t receiving them for various reasons. My task will be to work with community members and leaders to understand the best ways to reach and support them. I will take the knowledge, strength, and courage of everyone I have met and extend a helping hand to our neighbors in need. It is a privilege to be working with the Alzheimer’s Project and our wonderful clients. I am looking forward to continuing to share the love of this community that has captured a piece of my heart.
We are always in need of dedicated volunteers! If you’re interested in getting involved, check out our volunteer opportunities HERE.