Evelyn Dore is from Tralee and is a Gaisce Gold Awardee who recently set up her own volunteer project called ‘Memory Boxes’. “The project started off as wanting to source pictures for older people in the community. Pictures that would bring back memories.”
Evelyn found that the project quickly evolved in to a ‘memory box’ for older people living in Tralee which included photographs, DVDs, oral books, smells and touch. The boxes are based on reminiscence therapy and are mainly focused on patients living with dementia. “In total we have eight boxes. Five are in convalescent homes, two in day care centres and one that goes to people’s houses for one month at a time.”
She goes on to explain how the boxes have received ‘great feedback, “In one instance a lady started eating again and another woman found her Dad in one of the DVDs.” With the initial success of her project Evelyn is hoping to launch a website and an All-Ireland database for memory boxes.
“Doing Gaisce has 100% helped to bring out that volunteer side to my personality. Gaisce, throughout the different Awards, allowed me to get comfortable in volunteering roles. It would never have been in my persona before that I would have been in a leadership capacity whereas I feel comfortable now.”
Throughout her time spent doing Gaisce Evelyn volunteered in a convalescent home, was a scout leader, volunteered with nano nagle summer camps for people with special needs and thought adults to read and write, “Through doing Gaisce I got exposed to how manageable it is to make change.”
Evelyn goes on to explain how, as part of her residential Gold project, she did a 10 day silent retreat in Drogheda. “We got up at 4:30 every morning and did meditation for 10 hours throughout the day. There was no talking or speaking. It was really good and I still meditate now.”
On the achievement of getting her Gold Award Evelyn believes that partaking in the Gaisce programme is the real reward, “I got an Award for making myself happy and rounded. The process of doing Gaisce was the reward and it still stands to me today.”