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Washingtonian Helping People with Dementia Receives Volunteer Award


Thursday, December 1, 2022   

A Bellingham man who supports people with dementia has received one of the most prestigious awards for volunteerism in Washington state.

The Washington Andrus Award for Community Service recognizes volunteers who are age 50 or older. This year, AARP Washington has selected Tom Oliver, lead volunteer of Project Lifesaver for Dementia Support Northwest.

The project provides tracking devices for people with dementia, and Oliver works with the Whatcom County Sheriff's Department, which is able to track the devices.

He said people with dementia can take off at any moment, so it's great to be able to ease the burden on their caregivers.

"This program does give us the ability to find the missing person very quickly, like half an hour," said Oliver, "instead of 12 to 16 hours like a conventional people search."

Oliver said he traveled more than 3,000 miles last year to deliver these devices and provide maintenance for them.

About 35% of Washington state residents volunteer, according to AmeriCorps.

Marguerite Ro is the AARP Washington state director. She said the Andrus Award is given to people who give back to their communities.

"The Andrus Award recipient this year, Tom Oliver, is an exceptional volunteer in what he has provided to his community," said Oliver. "But also he serves as a role model for others, of what can be accomplished."

The Andrus Award for Community Service is named after AARP founder, Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus.

Disclosure: AARP Washington contributes to our fund for reporting on Consumer Issues, Health Issues, Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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