After serving for over eight years at the NEK Council on Aging and 1.5 years as the Director of Client and Caregiver Support, Pam Smith will retire effective September 18th. During her career at the Council, Smith has provided support to hundreds of NEK families by providing informational classes, support groups, respite grants, and a shoulder to lean on.
Her personal journey in caregiving started when her grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
“We did everything wrong--I can still remember the confusion on my grandmothers face when I would try to bring her back to my reality. We thought we were doing the right thing but now I realize that we were not using the correct tools to help us communicate with her,” said Smith.
That realization started her long-term career for caring and supporting families with a dementing illness such as Alzheimer’s. She was the first person hired by the Alzheimer’s Association of VT in the early 90’s after the first executive director. She started writing thank you notes and sending out caregiver packets, and each year as the chapter grew, she assumed more responsibility in different capacities.
Emily Vivyan, the Director of Programs at the Alzheimer’s Association of VT is grateful for Smith’s dedication.
"We are so fortunate at the Alzheimer's Association to have been able to team up with Pam over her many years of working with us. Not only has she provided an incredible service to caregivers of those with Alzheimer's or another dementia through her monthly support group, but she is also a gifted and skilled community educator on several topics relating to Alzheimer's and dementia. She has really helped us create a strong programming presence in the Northeast Kingdom and we are so proud she has shared her talents with us. We wish her a fulfilling and relaxing retirement!"
Smith eventually acted as an interim Executive Director for the Alzheimer’s Association during a transition time of the Chapter. In 2012 a position for family caregiver support staff opened at the Council, which was a perfect fit. “I loved leading workshops that provided education and support for family caregivers, I don’t want families to make the same mistakes we made 30 years ago.”
“Pam’s dedication to supporting family caregivers is remarkable and we have appreciated the scope of her experience, her gentle and supportive demeanor, and her steadfast commitment to supporting family caregivers and the struggles they face,” said Meg Burmeister, NEKCOA Executive Director. “She has the respect of caregiving organizations across the state and we are grateful for the personal commitment she shared with clients at the Council. We all wish Pam our absolute best. We will surely miss her.”
Smith is a licensed local pastor for the United Methodist Church and plans to spend quality time with her husband, children, and grandchildren at her home in Groton.