Our Alzheimer's Action Day Hero - Kenny Field
(Left): Kenny Field with Earl Blumenauer, U.S. Representative for Oregon’s 3rd congressional district, at the 8/15/11 town hall meeting on Alzheimer’s disease; (Right) Field drums with his band, Empire Rocket Machine, at Rock Against Alzheimer’s (photos by Russell Young)
Kenny Field has been working at Emerson House, an Alzheimer’s Residential Care Facility in Southeast Portland for about five years. When he first got there, he was young and had no experience in care communities, but when the Life Enrichment Director talked to him for five minutes, he knew he wanted him as his new assistant.
“He took to the job instantly, bringing his natural kindness and enthusiasm to everything he did,” said Chris Nelson, former Life Enrichment Director at Emerson House. “The residents instantly took a liking to Kenny, partly because of his fresh, boyish face, but mostly because he displayed a genuine affection and respect for them. Kenny worked for me for over a year as my assistant, running activities, providing one-to-one visits with residents, going on outings, singing, going on walks, and generally doing anything we could think of to help the residents get through their day with dignity.”
Kenny came up with the idea of putting on a benefit concert several years ago as a way to raise funds for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. He happens to be an excellent drummer, so he called up several friends in the local punk rock scene, found a local bar, and got everyone together to play. Kenny periodically passed around a coffee can for donations, and they raised a couple hundred dollars. From these humble beginnings, Kenny’s Rock Against Alzheimer’s has steadily grown and evolved. The last one was held at Mississippi Studios in July, featured several well-known musical artists and generated several thousand dollars in donations.
Kenny left his job as the assistant to the Life Enrichment Director to direct the Adult Day Program at Emerson House, reaching out to families who are still caring for loved ones in the home. His dedication and positive spirit have kept the Adult Day Program alive and well at Emerson House.
Kenny is now the Life Enrichment Director at Emerson House, and inspires the residents and staff alike every day with his creativity, his drummer’s energy, and his love for the people he works with. If that weren’t enough, he has also excelled as a presenter in the community, both at the annual McGinty Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease and before local ombudsmen and others with an interest in Alzheimer’s disease.
Kenny’s tireless work with Rock Against Alzheimer’s certainly qualifies him as an Alzheimer’s hero, but when you know what he does week in and week out, you realize that Kenny Field is a hero every day for the Alzheimer’s community.