During #NationalVolunteerWeek, we’re celebrating the unwavering dedication of our volunteers. We are honoring Florence “Pippy” Rogers’ decade of advocacy work for the Georgia Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association
In the past ten years, we’ve made remarkable strides in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease. Since the unanimous passage of the National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA)in 2011, funding for Alzheimer’s and dementia research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has increased from $448 million in 2011 to $3.1 billion in 2021. Further, we’ve secured key policy victories to strengthen our nation’s dementia public health infrastructure, to address elder abuse, and to improve access to dementia care planning services.
This progress is due in no small part to our advocates and volunteers who, throughout this past decade, have continued to share their stories and who have forged fearlessly ahead, making it their mission to educate their lawmakers about Alzheimer’s and dementia issues and urging them to support legislation that would make a difference to Americans living with Alzheimer’s, their caregivers, and their families.
One such advocate is Florence “Pippy” Rogers, who first came to the Alzheimer’s Association immediately in the wake of NAPA’s passage a decade ago. Like the overwhelming majority of advocates and volunteers, she was moved to volunteer because of a deep personal connection to the fight to end Alzheimer’s, after losing her mother, Virginia C. Rogers, to the disease in 2008.
“My mother was around 67-years-old when we first started noticing little things here and there that made us worry that something might be wrong,” Pippy recalled, “Her doctors would mostly brush it off, assuring her and us that the symptoms that worried us were just a normal part of getting older.”
One day, as Pippy’s mother was leaving the hairdresser, she drove down the wrong side of the road and got into a minor accident, knocking off her bumper. “I remember her just laughing and laughing, and all of us being incredibly confused about why she was having this reaction to such a scary experience. That’s when we really knew something was wrong.”
For the next sixteen years that her mother lived with Alzheimer’s disease, Pippy juggled the responsibilities of a full-time job as a school principal and that of a part-time caregiver. Every six weeks, Pippy made the journey from Georgia to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, where she was born and raised, to help care for her mother. After losing her mother to the disease in 2008, Pippy knew she wanted to find ways to honor her mother and to take action so that other families, someday, would not have to face what her family had endured.
“I was so angry, and I knew I needed to translate that anger into something productive. I began my volunteer work by joining a Walk to End Alzheimer’s team, but it wasn’t long before I started getting involved in advocacy work. I attended my first Alzheimer’s Awareness Day in 2012, and I have been advocating ever since.”
Since joining the Alzheimer’s Association in 2011, Pippy has played key roles in every aspect of our mission, coordinating Walks, volunteering as a community educator, acting as the Ambassador to Rep. Drew Ferguson, and serving on the Alzheimer’s Association, Georgia Chapter Board of Directors. In the decade she has been an advocate, urging both her state and federal legislators to support policies that would improve the lives of families impacted by dementia, Pippy has borne witness to the remarkable progress we’ve made as a result of securing these policies.
“There’s been incredible momentum since the passage of NAPA, especially in the past few years. Another reason we’ve seen such strong, bipartisan support of our issues these past several years is that we have been focused on building relationships at the local level, with legislative staffers in each district who are working with constituents every day. Our goal is to get them aware of every aspect of what we do, every single way we work to help their constituents who are struggling with Alzheimer’s and dementia, and over time, we can make them champions of our issues.”
This National Volunteer’s Week, we honor Pippy Rogers decade of advocacy, and we celebrate all the incredible work and each and every one of our advocate volunteers. In sharing your stories, educating your communities and your lawmakers, and relentless fighting for a better world for people living with Alzheimer’s and their families, you are propelling us ever-closer to the first survivor of Alzheimer’s Disease.
If you’re interested in getting involved in advocacy, fill out our Advocacy Volunteer Application at www.alzimpact.org/volunteer, and text “ALZGA” to 52886 to receive text updates on our issues!