A local family is being celebrated for its many contributions to the Alzheimer Society of Manitoba.

Opinion

A local family is being celebrated for its many contributions to the Alzheimer Society of Manitoba.

Reed and Arla Winstone and their daughter, Arden Winstone, are this year’s recipients of the Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries Family Award. Presented by Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries and Volunteer Manitoba, the award promotes family volunteering across the province and recognizes an outstanding family that has dedicated their time and resources to giving back to Manitobans.

The Winstones accepted the award during a special presentation at The Forks at the beginning of September.

"It’s humbling to (receive) it," Reed says.

The Winstones have raised thousands of dollars and donated countless hours to supporting programs and services for those living with dementia. The family’s involvement with the society stems from both Reed and Arla’s fathers living with dementia, where they experienced the first-hand challenges other families face.

"You realize that (dementia) is a devastating process for anyone to go through, and the society is a great support for the people going through it and the people caring for them," Reed says.

Reed and Arla first got involved in 1992, when they canvassed door to door in support of the society. Arden, now in her mid-20s, started volunteering when she was a high school student.

The Winstones have donated time in a handful of roles like administration, event organization and preparation, and facilitating the Minds in Motion program.

"They’re really quite appreciative of the work you do and you feel you’re contributing to a worthy cause," Reed says. "It gives you a sense of self-worth, and that is important."

"You feel like you’re working toward a common goal in terms of making life better for those who are suffering from dementia, but also for the support team behind those people," Arla adds. "That’s one of the things with dementia: We tend to concentrate on the person that has the illness, (but) the support team behind them also needs a huge amount of assistance."

For the Winstones, one of the most meaningful aspects of their involvement with the society is that they have become go-to people among their friends and acquaintances when their family members are diagnosed with dementia.

"When they’re going through similar problems, they feel they can come talk to us and we can provide direct support or point them in the direction of the society," Reed says.

Allison Woodward, event manager at the Alzheimer Society of Manitoba, praises the Winstones’ dedication.

"They are always one of the first groups of volunteers that kind of jump to the forefront in wanting to help," she says. "They’re just one of those go-to families that are such wonderful people to work with and so warm… We love working with them."

September is World Alzheimer’s Month, and tomorrow is World Alzheimer’s Day. The Alzheimer Society of Manitoba is currently in the midst of an awareness campaign where they are asking people to post pictures of themselves on social media wearing blue, using the hashtag #GoBLUEforAlz.

The society is also seeking volunteers. Visit alzheimer.mb.ca/volunteer for details.

"I’d like to take this opportunity to encourage others to go and volunteer," Reed says. "It’s a fulfilling pastime."

If you know a special volunteer, please contact aaron.epp@gmail.com.