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volunteer-story

Moments of peace and connection through reading

Each week, Ginger and Christoph arrive at Beacon Hill at Eastgate and are warmly welcomed by a group of residents eager to read together. Ginger, a former teacher and librarian, greets all the residents and settles in.

On Wednesdays, Ginger and her son Christoph come to Beacon Hill to lead a reading roundtable for our Memory Support residents. She is masterful the way she makes eye contact with each reader, knows just when to prompt the next reader, and politely makes sure that everyone keeps up with the story.

This week, Ginger is reading about sailing and leading discussion. Some of the residents recall fond memories of times on a boat. Others declare they would not be interested in taking a boat trip around the world. Everyone is engaged and interested in what Ginger is going to say next.

Christoph observes his mother lead the group, occasionally chiming in with his point of view on the story, or answering some of the discussion questions. Ginger is facing mid-stage Alzheimer’s and memory loss, so Christoph helps to fill in the gaps for her. Christoph, Ginger’s son and full-time caregiver, is a former journalism teacher and amateur radio host.

He has been learning from dementia care experts and started a podcast with his mother as a way to share insights from subject matter experts with the many families impacted by dementia. Living With Alzheimer’s is meant to provide resources for families dealing with dementia and is a way to help keep Ginger engaged. The podcast can be found on all major podcast outlets and at www.lwalz.com.

Despite any gaps in both Ginger’s memory and the residents’ memories, their connection remains clear. The residents all look forward to spending time with her. Later, when I ask Ginger why she volunteers her time at Beacon Hill, she says “My house is easy to be in; my three children are grown; I want to do something that gives back that is needed, not just something I invent.” As a former teacher, with her master’s degree in Library Science, Ginger naturally gravitates toward leading education. “Plus, we live right around the corner,” she adds. We hope that Ginger and Christoph continue to share their gift of reading and education with us for many years to come.

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Beacon Hill at Eastgate is a distinctive, not-for-profit retirement community located in Grand Rapids’ desirable Eastgate neighborhood.

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