Harvard Alzheimer's Buddies 2018 Brunch

Today was the much awaited HCAB brunch! All of our volunteers gathered together to visit our buddies and their family members. We arrived in the large room where the tables were set beautifully. There were colorful flower arrangements on the tables, plates were laid out very nicely, and the room was slowly being filled with chatter.

For many of our volunteers, it would be their first time meeting their buddies’ families. For each of us, this was a celebratory occasion, for all of us have had the wonderful privilege of knowing our buddies for an entire year. Simultaneously, it was also a little sad, for some of us would not see our buddies till next semester. However, after our pilot program last summer, we were officially running programming in the summer as well; thus, students who were on campus would have the opportunity to continue visiting their buddies.

Among the tables, I found Nancy* and her family. Eagerly, I sat down as we started chatting. I asked Nancy if she wanted to eat anything. She replied that she had already eaten beforehand, so I also didn’t grab any food. Instead, I stayed and talked with her, for I knew that I could get brunch back at school. The conversation centered around my time at school and how her week was. 

One of my best friends is also part of Alzheimer’s Buddies - in fact, he joined after I convinced him how great this program was and what a wonderful fit he would be as a volunteer. I have told Nancy about him before, and I had enthusiastically told her that I wished for them to meet. To my friend, I told the same thing. During the brunch, I found my friend, and I had the chance to briefly meet his buddy. I had heard much about his buddy who liked watching sports and talking about his traveling adventures. He was a friendly old man who had the most welcoming eyes. After some conversation, I led my friend and introduced him to Nancy. In that moment, I felt happy that two very important people in my life could meet. The meeting was brief, for my friend and his buddy were to enjoy their time together; however, it was definitely one of my highlights of this brunch!

The room was so full of volunteers spending time with buddies and their friends. Between the chatter, the coordinators of this event from Hebrew Senior Life and the Harvard co-directors, gave a short speech about our program. 

During the brunch, it was great telling Nancy and her family about my summer plans. I am going to Vietnam for a Harvard seminar teaching program for approximately 2 weeks. Afterwards, I will be in Peru interning at a NGO, Alianza Arkana, for 10 weeks. Here, I’ll manage communications and outreach in addition to running women’s health literacy workshops. I promised that I would send them postcards, letters, and photos!

The brunch was a great way to end my semester with Nancy and her family. I will miss her a lot during the summer, but I'm glad that I can keep in touch with her. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to spend time with Nancy, and I look forward to next semester with her!

*Names changed to protect privacy

- Ellen Zhang

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