Meet The Staff: Jenna, Justin & Allan

Meet The Staff: Jenna, Justin & Allan

JENNA DRAGOON


Seeking an opportunity to work in a rewarding field, and having a personal family connection with dementia, Jenna joined the LIAD Center in early 2020. Currently earning a second bachelor’s degree, this time in Psychology, Jenna sees every day at the LIAD Center as “an opportunity to help others enjoy life to the fullest!” 

Jenna values moments where “participants from all different backgrounds come together, singing and dancing in unification,” as well as “being surrounded by caring and compassionate people.” 

“Working at the LIAD Center has allowed me to feel a new level of empathy that helps me stay motivated...I am very grateful for the opportunity to work with individuals diagnosed with a cognitive impairment because I get as much out of it as I give.”

Outside of her work, Jenna enjoys journaling, playing leisure sports and has a love for plants.

Fun Fact: Besides having a green thumb, Jenna has a bachelor’s degree in Sports Administration and played Harry Potter’s “Muggle” Quidditch for 5 years.

JUSTIN BAYONETO

Justin’s journey at the LIAD Center began in October 2017. At the time, Justin was a prospective medical school applicant looking for a special work experience. “I am so grateful to be part of the team…it has truly changed my life for the better.”

Working in the health care field with seniors, Justin says people often imagine his day-to-day to be somber and depressing, but feels it’s the exact opposite. Instead, working with the senior population has been rewarding – “I’ve made genuine connections with the participants, learning about their unique life experiences…sometimes I don’t even feel like I’m at work, rather just spending time with my friends!”

When asked what he enjoys most, Justin says “the great part about The LIAD Center's programs is that they cater to anyone and everyone. The flexibility and variety of the different services allows families to find what they enjoy most and make some friends along the way. The staff provides such a welcoming, positive, and inclusive community where everyone genuinely cares for the families, participants and one another.”

Outside of work, Justin enjoys going for walks, spending time with his dog and friends, and traveling/exploring new places. He describes himself as a “foodie,” always looking for diverse restaurants and food festivals. He also is a fan of comedy shows such as SNL and Late Night – he even met Seth Meyers once!

“Every time I'm able to make a client's day better, even by simply making them smile, I know that what we are doing here is all the more special.”


ALLAN RABINOWITZ


Allan joined the LIAD Center’s team in 2017 after 39 years of working with the MTA, and interest in helping the dementia community. Though Allan is mainly responsible for safe transportation for our participants, his commitment to the LIAD Center goes beyond the bus.

Often Allan will attend the day program’s live entertainment hours – engaging with participants, singing along, and growing relationships with staff and interns. Allan values the benefits the LIAD Center’s programs provide, “it allows caregivers to have 5 to 6 hours of respite, which prevent burn out. I feel I’m doing a good deed helping people living with this disease.”

Allan’s contagious personality shines while on the bus though. During his routes, he plays music through the bus’s speakers for participants to sing along to, and often encourages music themed trivia during rides as well. “It makes me smile when I hear someone shout out the artist or song title. I have songs dating from the 40’s to the 90’s. The participants know many of the songs… and those that can still communicate reminisce and share their interesting backgrounds.”

Allan’s enthusiasm for the LIAD Center is also carried into his spare time. Each month, he prepares an “underground newsletter” for staff. It includes fun photos, trivia, jokes and more – and the staff eagerly anticipates it’s release. Also in his spare time, Allan attends concerts, baseball games and enjoys taking trips to NYC.

Fun facts: At his previous job at the MTA, he was given the nickname “The Rabbi,” short for his last name. Allan only wears high top sneakers, due to too many sprained ankles growing up. Safety first!


About the Author Long Island Alzheimer's and Dementia Center

At the Long Island Alzheimer's and Dementia Center, our mission is to improve the quality of life for those living with Alzheimer’s disease and related forms of dementia, and their caregivers. We actively work to achieve this mission through research-based programming for all stages of Alzheimer’s, Caregiver Support Groups, in-home respite solutions, transportation options, and additional services.

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