Each year at our annual Discovery conference, we recognize volunteers and community partners who have made an incredible impact on our work. Congratulations to this year’s award recipients, highlighted below. Thank you for going above and beyond in your service and dedicating your time and energy to the Alzheimer’s Association. We appreciate your generosity! In honor of National Volunteer Month, we would also like to take a moment to thank all of the Washington State Chapter volunteers. Whether it’s in care and support, education, advocacy or raising funds and awareness for the cause — we appreciate your many contributions!
Clacey McNary Volunteer of the Year Award: Mikaela Louie
The Clacey McNary Volunteer of the Year Award award is named in honor of one of our most dedicated and dependable volunteers. Clacey McNary and his wife, Polly, started volunteering at our Chapter when Polly was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 1996. Clacey continued to donate his time and talent to our mission until his own passing several years ago, just three weeks short of his 98th birthday.
“Nearly ten years ago, my family changed forever when my mom was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 57. Until then, my understanding of Alzheimer’s and dementia was that it impacts our elders most — my beloved grandmothers, both immigrants and refugees to the U.S., had dementia much later in life. When my mom was diagnosed at such a young age during the peak of her nearly 30-year career as a primary care physician, my family was shocked. We did not speak publicly about my mom’s diagnosis for over a year until my mom herself led us with courage to speak out.
I got involved with the Alzheimer’s Association to drive a more inclusive narrative, advocate for equitable services, and of course, fight for a cure. It became an outlet and platform for my family — my mom and I spoke at Reason to Hope breakfasts, advocated together in Olympia and participated in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s for several years. I currently serve as the Ambassador to Rep. Jayapal of Washington’s 7th Congressional District. These efforts have not been in vain. Since we began advocating with the Alzheimer’s Association in 2014, Congress has passed an additional $2.5 billion in research dollars for Alzheimer’s disease. My mom and I also had the privilege to witness Washington pass and Governor Inslee sign the Alzheimer’s State Plan.
Today, my mom is in late-stage and cared for at home. Over the past ten years, I’ve learned that this disease is not just memory loss; it robs people of their abilities, talents, and ultimately their lives. It also takes a physical and emotional toll on caregivers, which is a 24/7 job. As my mom slowly lost her abilities, my dad retired early to become a full-time caregiver and she’s had amazing part-time professional caregivers. Though my mom’s disease has presented grim moments, she maintains sparks of her warm, loving personality.
Since 2014, I have had the distinct honor to serve on the chapter’s Board of Directors. In this role, I stand on the shoulders of other volunteer leaders, my mentors and friends, including but not limited to Myriam Marquez, Ellen Cole, Pete Minden, Bryan Haakenson and Chris Gruenfeld. I am truly humbled to receive this recognition, and would like to share it with and dedicate it to my personal heroes—my dad, my sister, and of course, my mom, whose warmth, laughter, activism, resolve and steadfast love inspires and motivates me to do whatever I can to achieve a world without Alzheimer’s and all other dementias.”
Morey Skaret Leadership Award: Nancy Streiffert
Each year, one support group facilitator from the Washington State Chapter is selected to receive the Morey Skaret Leadership Award. This honor is named after Morey Skaret, who attended the very first Alzheimer’s Association caregiver support group and went on to become a support group facilitator for over 20 years.
“I am very honored to receive this award! Also, very surprised since I came very close to throwing in the towel after yet another meltdown over my inability to figure out Zoom! This award needs to be shared with Christin Peter (Programs Assistant) who held my virtual hand many times to ensure our meetings would proceed on time.
I sort of fell into being a facilitator after seeing an ad or article about support group training back in 2002. I learned so much at the comprehensive training about the disease and about facilitating a support group for caregivers that I was eager to get started. It sometimes takes a while for a group to get started — my first group was four members of the same family caring for a parent. Things progressed from there. There have been from two to 14 people attending with usually a core of about five or six continuing. These usually become the “resident experts” who help me make new members feel comfortable.
With no personal experience as a caregiver, I value my members as the REAL hands-on experts while I share the information and resources available from the Alzheimer’s Association and facilitate ongoing discussion and sharing.
The Alzheimer’s Association is a priceless source of information and support for me and all caregivers. The quarterly update meetings, conferences like Discovery and worldwide research about this devastating disease makes my contribution possible. Hopefully, prevention and a cure for this disease will be found soon. Until then, I am happy to be part of the network that supports the people caring for loved ones and friends with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Thank you again so much.”
Community Partner of the Year Award: Connie Thompson
The purpose of the Community Partner of the Year Award is to honor an individual, corporation, foundation, government or other nonprofit organization that supports the Alzheimer’s Association in our vision and mission, and to recognize and thank those in the community who help promote and support awareness of the programs and services of the Alzheimer’s Association’s Washington State Chapter.
Connie Thompson is most-known for her decades as the consumer advocate on Seattle’s KOMO TV and Radio. She used that platform to share her personal journey with the realities of her mother’s dementia, and in doing so, helped educate viewers about the resources, support and advocacy work of the Alzheimer’s Association Washington State Chapter.
“Any time someone shares concerns about a loved one’s memory loss or signs of dementia, I strongly encourage them to contact the Alzheimer’s Association. I tell them how the wealth of resources, assistance and support were instrumental in helping my family solve problems and provide our mother with the best quality of life. I spread the word about the Alzheimer’s Association and the Washington Chapter whenever I can,” says Connie.
Connie has been a great champion of our cause for many years, but in 2020 — a year filled with so much uncertainty — Connie rose to the challenge. When the pandemic forced the Walk to End Alzheimer’s to change formats in 2020 ,she worked with KOMO to produce promotional spots for the station’s broadcast and social media, created her own social media stories to promote the cause, produced timely segments about Alzheimer’s and dementia to promote the Walk on the evening news, and helped the chapter coordinate television news coverage of individual Walk participants in their own communities on the day of the event. She also continued to emcee the opening ceremony for the Pacific Northwest Walk to End Alzheimer’s, something she had done for many years in-person, and now did online for the first time in the event’s history.
Her many contributions over the years have been instrumental in raising public awareness about the Walk to End Alzheimer’s and the mission of the Alzheimer’s Association. We are incredibly grateful for her support!
Through the efforts of talented, caring volunteers, we are able to deliver programs, fund research and support people affected by Alzheimer’s. If you are interested in learning more about volunteer opportunities with the Alzheimer’s Association Washington State Chapter, visit alzwa.org/volunteer.