Ivy Ma had been dedicating her time towards helping her grandmother, who has Alzheimer’s Disease, when the 17-year-old realized other seniors suffering from memory loss could benefit from a partnership with youth.
Founding Rememoirs in 2019, the Bellflower, California high school senior is volunteering to create an intergenerational partnership between youth and elderly experiencing memory loss including Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia. Using memory boxes and then letters during the COVID-19 pandemic, Ivy is reminding seniors they are not alone through service.
What inspires you to volunteer?
The large number of passionate and zealous volunteers I get to work with is what inspires my volunteerism. I’ve seen the blood, sweat and tears volunteers put in, and no matter the challenge I know they’re always willing to work with me.
Describe your volunteerism with Rememoirs.
I serve as co-founder, CTO and CFO of Rememoirs, and through volunteerism, we are working to reduce the progression of memory loss and provide unbiased STEM education for gender and racial minorities. I manage the website, produce social media, connect with donors, coordinate fundraising and develop partnerships with external organizations like the Alzheimer’s Association to recruit members and expand service through our chapters around the globe.
Share one personal story with me from your volunteerism.
I initiated my volunteer work at the Woodruff Convalescent Center, where I met an 85-year-old man with dementia. I noticed he was very optimistic, but couldn’t remember who his family was. When I reached out to a nurse, I learned his family hadn’t visited in two years because they didn’t live in the state. After two weeks of sharing Rememoirs, the first thing this man remembered was his daughter’s wedding. That made me happy and proud. I am very humbled and honored to be a part of this mission to help other people.
Why do you think it’s important for others to give back?
I’ve grown up thinking about serving the “dear neighbor” without distinction. Volunteering is about putting in without thinking about getting back. When we help someone else, we’re also helping ourselves and working towards the betterment of the community.
What’s been the most rewarding part of your service?
It’s very rewarding knowing you’re helping a senior by utilizing small resources. The change I’m making isn’t big, I’m not a doctor, but I know I’m making an impact by just trying a bit every day.
How have you continued to volunteer throughout the pandemic?
Facilities didn’t let us communicate in-person with seniors during the pandemic. In response, we launched the Rememoirs Letter Program so we could write personalized letters to seniors. I wrote more than 300 handwritten letters to a senior home we partnered with in India. When I write letters, I remind the senior that I’m always here for them. A lot of seniors I work with don’t have many family members, so I try to portray that I’m like a family member and they always have me by their side, no matter what happens.
In one word, what does volunteering mean to you?
When you’re not busy volunteering or in school, what do you do for fun?
I really enjoy exploring the city, learning about new cultures and meeting new people.
How can readers help?
Please visit the Rememoirs website for more information about how you can help.
Do you want to make a difference in your community like Ivy Ma? Find local volunteer opportunities.