Our New Director of Support Groups

Abigail Nathanson
Director of Support Groups

I got to know the people and programs of CaringKind almost a decade ago, when, as a recent graduate of the NYU School of Social Work, I attended a conference here on best practices in dementia care. The wealth of knowledge and services available for caregivers and professionals amazed me, so I volunteered to be a support group leader. My group ran for two years during which I worked on the dementia unit of a nursing home until I left and went on to work in hospitals, hospice, research, and outpatient mental health, as well as teach in a graduate program.

Wendy Panken, the former Support Group Manager, and I reconnected early last year, and she mentioned there was a long-standing group looking for a new leader. I was excited to get involved again, and was reminded of the great work being done every day. When Wendy retired later in the year, I stepped into the Director of Support Groups role at CaringKind in October. What started as a personally enriching volunteer gig has turned into a new career, doing what I love with an organization that is so important to me. Support groups save lives, and I am profoundly grateful for the 80-plus people all over New York City who give their time every week to our organization and to the dementia community by running groups.

Moving forward, the program will continue to focus on high-quality care, expand into more underserved areas, and provide more opportunities for support group leaders to connect with CaringKind. My role is to develop and manage the program to best meet the needs of our caregivers, support group leaders, and organization. We have already made massive improvements to our referral and screening process, and look forward to unveiling new projects and services that assist caregivers and our support group leaders in the coming year!

Our New Manager of Chinese Outreach

Weijing shi
Manager of Chinese Outreach

I first was introduced to CaringKind by Fanny Lau, former Manager of Chinese Outreach. Fanny and I had several opportunities over many years to work together serving the Chinese community. Through our collaborations, I gained an overall knowledge of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias and became familiar and impressed with the programs and services provided by CaringKind. Now that Fanny has retired, I am confident that I will build on the strong foundation she created to reach more families with our message of hope and help.

I earned a college degree in Chinese Language & Literature in China and a Masters of Social Work from NYU. I worked in Chinese senior services as a clinical social worker for several years, learning to better work with older adults. I was the Brooklyn branch director of Chinese American Planning Council for several years, where I truly witnessed the cultural influences on aging and the barriers to accessing social services. I then worked at NYU Lutheran Health System as a Chinese community liaison. I have had many opportunities to learn and improve my outreach and education skills, as well as build a substantial network of colleagues and partners within the Chinese community. I have approached all my previous positions as learning and networking opportunities, and believe I have earned a good reputation. I am very excited about this new phase of my career.

After years of hard work, education, outreach, and advocacy from CaringKind there has been a growth in the awareness and understanding of dementia in the Chinese community. However, there is still much work to be done. Many Chinese people who are dealing with dementia are reluctant to ask for help. There is insufficient information about how to access community resources. Many Chinese caregivers who lack such care and support experience a variety of emotional and psychological issues and family conflict. I will continue to deliver our mission and introduce services to the community by promoting our unique approach to care for Chinese people with dementia. I will also provide support for both family and professional caregivers, educate Chinese residents about dementia, and enhance our partnerships with community health care and social services agencies. My goal is to build a bridge between CaringKind and the Chinese community!