From Zimbabwe to the West Kootenay, Julie Leffelaar’s life path has crossed borders, cultures and time zones while always heading in the same direction: helping others.
And that path has now led her here, to serve as the support and education co-ordinator for the West Kootenay region for the non-profit Alzheimer Society of BC.
The position is an ideal fit, says Leffelaar, who supports those on the journey of living with Alzheimer’s disease.
“I have always been inspired by the folks who do such wonders of living full lives even with disability and barriers,” she said.
“Those who walk beside them always seem to be the most ‘human’ human beings in the world, using their skills, intelligence and heart to live out each moment and give of themselves to another.”
Leffelaar has spent her lifetime giving to others, both in BC and around the world.
Her career in non-profits and social agencies includes working for West Kootenay Brain Injury Association and School District #20 Kootenay-Columbia.
Her travels abroad have included three years teaching in Zimbabwe with her husband, and time in northern China, Mexico and Ecuador while raising her family.
“We have had some very unique experiences, and feel a connection to the many cultures we’ve learned about,” she said with a smile
“The world is a wondrous place.”
The West Kootenay region also fills her with wonder, she says — not just the natural beauty of the area, but also the spirit of the people.
“Alzheimer’s disease is the greatest challenge for so many, and I love being able to strengthen the heroes I see coping every day with such challenges.”
Those heroes are numerous. Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias affect approximately one of every 11 Canadians over the age of 65.
To help them, Leffelaar provides a variety of dementia education workshops to caregivers, health care providers and the general public; co-ordinates and facilitates support groups for caregivers and persons in early stages of dementia or memory loss; and raises awareness about the society and its programs and services.
She can be reached at 250-365-6769 (toll-free 1-855-301-6742) or by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, visit the Society website at alzheimerbc.org.
The Alzheimer Society of BC is the only province-wide non-profit organization dedicated to helping people concerned with or facing dementia have the confidence and skills to maintain quality of life.
It is committed to ensuring public perceptions reflect the real issues, and to securing funding for support and research.