Jordyn Venick, a student at Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School, was surrounded by friends, family and residents of Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital when she presented a check for $4,200 to the Alzheimer’s Association on May 1.
She raised the money through a mitzvah project that she dedicated to her grandmother, who is a resident of Levindale, and made the donation in her name.
“I created this project in honor of my bubbie, [Beverly] ‘Bubbles’ Venick, as a way to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease,” said Jordyn, 11. “Kind Mind is a project that my parents and I came up with to help dementia patients by using their senses more.”
Alzheimer’s disease, which is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior, according to the Alzheimer’s Association’s website, affects approximately 5 million people in the U.S. and 100,000 in Maryland. It is the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S. and the only one in the Top 10 for which there is no cure, treatment or prevention, said Ilene Rosenthal, who is a program director at the Alzheimer’s Association.
“But we are working on that, and because of special people like Jordyn, we will get there,” Rosenthal told the audience. “There is new science, new research, and somebody is going to unlock the mystery of this disease so other families don’t have to live with this.”
Rosenthal attended the ceremony to accept the donation for the global nonprofit organization that works to advance research to end Alzheimer’s and dementia while enhancing care for those living with the disease.
Following the presentation, Jordyn presented the residents — and their families — at Levindale living with Alzheimer’s disease with a bag filled with different activities and items that help engage their senses.
“The sensory stimulation helps out greatly [to keep] dementia patients [calm] because they can’t focus as much on the here and now,” said John Ottena, manager of therapeutic recreation and volunteer services.
Many of Jordyn’s family were also in attendance including her parents, Steve and Holly.
“We’re very proud of Jordyn. She has only known her bubbie with Alzheimer’s disease. This is something very near and dear to our family,” said Holly. “There’s very little we can do to help her [medically], but we can do this to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease and help her, other patients at Levindale and, hopefully, other facilities in the future as well.”
“Since we created it, [Jordyn has] been overly enthusiastic,” said Steve. “She comes up with new ideas each day and has really been an integral part of getting this off the ground.”
Rosenthal commended Jordyn on her efforts despite still being more than a year from her bat mitzvah.
“This is so impressive to see a young woman, all of 11 years old, who is just so inspired by her grandma and wanting to do this so that other families don’t have to deal with [Alzheimer’s],” said Rosenthal.
When asked about her motivation, Jordyn’s answer was concise but powerful.
“I wanted to do this because I wanted to give back and try to help other people.”