Aiken Woman Wins National Volunteer of Year award - 1 of 2 in the U.S.

Staff Report From Aiken CEO

Wednesday, September 4th, 2019

Nancy Martin wanted to start a Lewy Body Dementia support group in 2015 to educate the public and provide support for caregivers. She never imagined she would receive national recognition for her work.

On Aug. 16, the Lewy Body Dementia Association presented her and Pat Snyder, of North Carolina, with the national Dorothy Mangurian Volunteer of the Year award. The award was presented during the Lewy Body Dementia Conference in Raleigh, N.C.

“I’m so full of humility and very surprised. I did not expect this,” she said of the award. “I knew I had been busy doing things, but I also had been a caregiver. I have to give credit to the people in the support group. It has truly been a joint effort.”

Martin’s journey with Lewy Body Dementia began in 2014.

“When my husband, Nick, was diagnosed, I didn’t know much about LBD,” Martin said.

That’s when she started working with the Lewy Body Dementia Association in Atlanta and with DayBreak Adult Care Services to learn more.

“When I learned that this form of dementia is often misdiagnosed or under-diagnosed, I knew I wanted to help,” she said. “So, in 2015, we started the support group.”

Martin, along with Linda Lucas, DayBreak’s community relations director, and Patrice Tavernier, DayBreak’s long-term care case manager, facilitate the monthly M’Aiken A Difference Lewy Body Dementia Support Group.

“The support group meetings are very positive. We provide an environment for caregivers to support one another. We also bring in guest speakers and lead roundtable discussions so caregivers can give support and suggestions,” Martin said. “Being a caregiver can get lonely, so we want this to be a positive, supportive time for caregivers to enjoy one another’s company.”

Martin’s husband, Nick, died in January, but she remains focused on helping others.

As a volunteer for M’Aiken A Difference, Martin helps coordinate the meetings and ensure facilitators are available. She sends out newsletters, organizes fundraisers and passes out information every chance she gets.

“The LBDA in Atlanta and DayBreak refer people to me, and I am happy to help,” she said. “This is very personal for me. I have a true passion to help others.”