Volunteer Spotlight: Mark Ewer

Volunteer Spotlight: April 2018

Volunteer Spotlight: Mark Ewer

We could not do what we do without the help of volunteers. We’re happy to be celebration National Volunteer Week this month (April 15-21) and will continue to acknowledge our volunteers for all the wonderful and hard work they do.

We’re also excited to be featuring volunteer profiles this year in this community blog of ours – here’s your chance to know a little more about Mark Ewer, our spotlight for April!

Name: Mark Ewer

Volunteer Position: DesignAbility® Chairperson – Hamilton/Halton branch

What is your favorite part about volunteering with MODC?

Using my creative energy to come up with creative solutions to help people live independently.

If you read – what’s a good book you would recommend?

“Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson

If you had a superpower, what would it be?

Extreme intelligence/Creativity

What is your go-to dessert?

Chocolate Brownies

How long have you been an MODC volunteer?

15+ Years.

We asked Elaine Darling (DesignAbility®) why she nominated Mark Ewer to be a spotlight for our blog.

Mark has a huge commitment to the program, he’s very creative, and dedicated to helping people. He is truly a reflection of our organization’s mission.

 

Volunteer Spotlilght: Mark Ewer. Mark's book recommendation: "Steve Jobs" by Walter Isaacson.

If you’d like to learn more about March of Dimes Canada’s volunteering opportunities, please visit this landing page from the website: http://bit.ly/MODCVol

Volunteer Spotlight: March 2018

Volunteers are vital to the success of our programs of March of Dimes Canada. We appreciate and acknowledge volunteers for all the amazing, incredible and hard work they do. This year we’re getting to know some of them a little more in these blog profiles!

Meet Darlene Johnson, our spotlight for March!

March Volunteer Spotlight

Name: Darlene Johnson

Volunteer Position: Communication Program Volunteer – ACDP Peterborough Site

What is your favorite part about volunteering with MODC?

How the clients are so motivated to improve their own communication and how they support each other through the process. I look forward to volunteering at the Peterborough Aphasia program because they provide a supportive and non-judgmental environment for clients, caregivers and the volunteers. The staff set the tone and they are knowledgeable, skilled and demonstrate respect for each individual that they encounter.

What are 3 adjectives you would use to describe yourself?

Caring, Friendly, Respectful

What is your favorite hobby?

Quilting

What is your favorite TV show?

Call the Midwife (because of a Nursing background)

How long have you been an MODC volunteer?

1.5 Years

We asked Elisha and Sara why they nominated this volunteer.

“Darlene’s positive nature, energy, and welcoming attitude deserve recognition! On top of her friendly personality, she displays kindness and concern for the well-being of our clients, supporting their strengths and encouraging them to develop new skills. As staff (and I’m sure clients feel the same) we’re very fortunate to have Darlene as part of our team.”

Sara Piotrowska (Staff Partner)

Her patience and willingness to learn and use supportive communication strategies ensures that clients’ messages are expressed, all clients are engaged, and conversation is mutually beneficial. – Sara

“The first thing that strikes me about Darlene is her caring and empathetic attitude in the program. She is genuinely interested in the clients and their well-being! She actively inquires about their lives and is always supportive of their interests. She is also very patient, allowing clients to respond in their own time and always encourages them to use the strategies to support their communication. It’s very evident how much the clients appreciate Darlene’s time and effort!”

Elisha Nesci (Staff Partner)

Volunteer Spotlight: Darlene Johnson. 3 Adjectives used to describe herself: Caring, Friendly, Respectful

If you’d like to learn more about March of Dimes Canada’s volunteering opportunities, please visit this landing page from their site: http://bit.ly/MODCVol

 

Volunteer Spotlight: Lara Kaufman

Volunteer Spotlight: February 2018

As we continue our volunteer appreciation throughout the year, we want to reiterate: Volunteers are so important to March of Dimes Canada. Thanks to them, we’re able to do the work we do.

Meet Lara Kaufman, our spotlight for February!

February Volunteer Spotlight

Name: Lara Kaufman

Volunteer Position: Peers Fostering Hope Hospital Visitor

What is their favorite part about volunteering with MODC?

Inspiring the patients they see and giving them hope.

What are 3 adjectives that they use to describe themselves?

Outgoing, Persevering, Insightful.

What is their favorite hobby?

She loves to read.

What is their favorite TV show?

Outlander.

Why are you nominating this volunteer?

Stroke recovery is like climbing a mountain. It takes hard work, perseverance and patience. But the view from the top is spectacular. – Lara

Lara’s positive attitude and awareness of the challenges that someone goes through after experiencing a life changing event, enables her to really touch the hearts of the patients she visits at Toronto Rehab as part of Peers Fostering Hope (PFH). The individual Lara supports in the community as part of the Community Visiting pilot for PFH has taken steps to get out into the community more than she would have without Lara’s assistance.

According to Paul Asselin, the Social Worker she reports to when she volunteers at Toronto Rehab, “Lara has made some terrific contributions and offered a lot of support to our patients over the years. I remember not long after she started here, one patient referred to her as an angel. She has received similar compliments such as: ‘Reassuring, good to hear it from someone who’s been there,’ ‘She gave me confidence.’ etc.

What strikes me about Lara in particular is that she finds the strength to come in, even when there are so many other things going on in her life. Through all of these life events, some good and some challenging, she manages to stay focused and present when she is visiting.”

Lara exemplifies what it means to be a PFH volunteer based on the feedback she receives from patients at the hospital. I would also support what Paul Asselin has said above. She is extremely dedicated even when she has a lot of other challenges going on in her life. She also is eager to get involved in new opportunities such as when she decided to be a part of the Community Visiting pilot. Outside of MODC she is involved in many other community projects. As a UHN Patient Partner, she has served on several committees, providing the patient perspective on various initiatives. She also co-founded with stroke survivor, Dr. Howard Rocket, Rocket Ride 4 Rehab in 2015. This static cycling event raises money for the Rocket Family Upper Extremity Clinic at Toronto Rehab. Lara is very deserving of recognition. She is also respected among her peers.

– Rebecca Phinnemore, PFH Coordinator


How long have they been an MODC volunteer?

Since 2014

Volunteer Spotlight: Lara Kaufman

 

If you’d like to learn more about March of Dimes Canada’s volunteering opportunities, please visit this landing page from their site: http://bit.ly/MODCVol

Volunteer Spotlight: Joan Winter

Volunteer Spotlight: January 2018

Volunteer Spotlight: Joan Winter

Volunteers are so important to March of Dimes Canada and we are so appreciative and thankful for their continued support and work they do for the organization. It’s true – we really cannot do what we do without them!

We thought it would be a fun way to get to know some of our volunteers by spotlighting 12 this year; one a month and with a few fun questions. Check out Joan, our January Spotlight!

January Volunteer Spotlight

Name: Joan Winter

Volunteer Position:  Chairperson and Peers Fostering Hope Volunteer

How long have you been a MODC volunteer?  7 years

What is your favorite part about volunteering with MODC?  Being able to express that there is always hope and that people need to be determined towards their recovery, which will be rewarded.

What are 3 adjectives use would use to describe yourself?  Determined, dedicated and challenged.

What is your favorite hobby?  Grandchildren is number 1, Reading, and Toast Masters.

What is your favorite TV show?  The Young and the Restless and Big Bang Theory

Erica M. nominated Joan for a volunteer spotlight. Here is why she nominated her:

We have the pleasure of working with wonderful people who donate their time to this organization every day. I wanted to highlight Joan Winter as she is determined to beat the odds. She is her own advocate and works hard towards her recovery every single day. She doesn’t let disability become a barrier. She advocates for Tai-Chi and Toast Masters; two community programs that were instrumental in her recovery. These programs have given her both focus and balance. She doesn’t let stroke define her. She would say “that being the Chairperson for the Oshawa Stroke Support Group has made her stronger and has given her direction” she would also say that “if you think you can or can’t, you are right”.

In addition to being the Chairperson for the Oshawa Stroke Support group she is an active Peers Fostering Hope Volunteer, spending her free time giving hope to people who have newly experienced a stroke. Lastly, she also volunteers with the Living with Stroke program running it twice a year. She is truly remarkable and unstoppable! We want to thank Joan Winter for her time and positive energy towards helping other stroke survivors and caregivers realize that there is life after stroke.

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If you’d like to learn more about March of Dimes Canada’s volunteering opportunities, please visit this landing page from their site: http://bit.ly/MODCVol

Branden - The Impact of L.I.F.E. for young adults with disabilities

The Impact of L.I.F.E. – Branden

Branden - The Impact of L.I.F.E. for young adults with disabilities

When Branden joined the Learning Independence for Future Empowerment (L.I.F.E.) Mississauga Program, he wanted to learn how to take the MiWay Transit buses independently. Although he was comfortable using TransHelp buses and booking his rides by himself, he desired a method of transportation that did not require a booking process so that he can be more spontaneous and flexible in his outings. His goal was to take the MiWay Transit buses to get to the program instead of using TransHelp. He also wanted to expand his social circle and be more familiar with various places in the community.

L.I.F.E. Program Instructors determined that Branden could work on this goal by participating in the Transit Training component of the L.I.F.E. Program since he wanted to familiarize himself with the public transit system and learn how to plan trips using Google Maps. It was also determined that he would be a good candidate for social outings days as it would give him an opportunity to explore the community by attending various events with the program and spending time with other participants in social settings.

Branden Taking Miway - LIFE M
Branden taking a MiWay Transit bus

During Transit Training, Branden was the first to search directions to the destinations. His attendance was excellent as well. He attended Transit Training for one session and is now comfortable taking MiWay Transit buses independently. He also learned many new routes to his house from the program, as well as directions to various recreational sites in his community. Additionally, he reported having an easier time running errands and going out with friends ever since using the MiWay buses. Branden has been very comfortable using conventional transit to the point that he was able to use the Brampton Züm buses to attend an event on his own!

I learned how to take the bus by myself. I met a new friend Siu Fan…He is my new bestie. I am excited to look for and get a job.

– Branden

Branden reported he has expanded his social circle as he met new friends at the program. He shared that he goes out with those friends outside of program hours especially on the weekends, visiting shopping malls like Square One and watching movies together at the theatre or at one of their houses.

Branden at Sqaure One - LIFE M
Branden at Square One shopping mall in Mississauga

Overall, Branden has increased his community engagement by learning to navigate the public transit system, which allows him to explore his community, and he has met new friends at the program. Branden has also been selected as a candidate for the March of Dimes pre-employment program (PEP), and he will begin attending it in November. There he will begin to work on another area of independence.

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Our goal for Giving Tuesday this year is to raise funds to expand our L.I.F.E. Pilot Program in Calgary so that it runs longer than 2 weeks. It’s the first step towards our overarching goal of bringing the L.I.F.E. Program to empower other young adults with disabilities in other communities across the country! We’ve teamed up with Eric Howk from the band, Portugal. The Man, and Savaria to spread the word. Savaria will also be matching every donation dollar for dollar until Giving Tuesday on November 28. This means your donation will be worth twice as much! Please see our crowdfunding pages below:

If you’d like to donate in CAD ($), please visit: http://bit.ly/IGGLIFE

For our international donors, please visit: http://bit.ly/MODCLIFE17

JAIPAL - The Impact of L.I.F.E. for young adults with disabilities

The impact of L.I.F.E. – Jaipal

JAIPAL - The Impact of L.I.F.E. for young adults with disabilities

Our Learning Independence for Future Empowerment (L.I.F.E.) Program has made a difference for many of its participants. Instead of us telling you the many different ways, we thought it would be best said from the participants and parents. Over the next week, we’ll be sharing testimonials through these blog posts!

Jaipal’s mother, Satpal Dhanjal writes:

“For me this program is amazing! Oh my god! Jaipal especially is really enjoying the program. We were talking earlier as we prepared dinner and he just kept going on and on about the program.

Jaipal (left) LIFE Mississauga participants at Ribfest

Jaipal can’t wait to get going in the morning to avoid being late to the L.I.F.E. program. He gets up, washed and dressed independently to avoid being late. 

To be having this lengthy conversation with my son shows the difference the program has made. My son no longer ignores me, there is no more swearing, he treats me with respect, we have conversations, he seems genuinely interested in me and grateful for the things I do as his parent – I feel appreciated.

Events_SpikingForDimes_Toronto_Mishael Morgan_Participants_Aug-8-2016 (3)

Tomorrow I am meeting with the agency, Mike Bennett Edge, that referred us to the L.I.F.E. program and I can’t wait to discuss how far my boys have come since attending the program.

There is really so much more to say such as how independent my son has become, taking the public transit to all the events L.I.F.E. attends in our community. I have also attended a few of the community events and watched her at work and she is amazing with the participants! They try everything and do many activities. I just can’t say enough.

Thank you!”

Our goal for Giving Tuesday this year is to raise funds to expand our L.I.F.E. Pilot Program in Calgary so that it runs longer than 2 weeks. It’s the first step towards our overarching goal of bringing the L.I.F.E. Program to empower other young adults with disabilities in other communities across the country! We’ve teamed up with Eric Howk from the band, Portugal. The Man, and Savaria to spread the word. Savaria will also be matching every donation dollar for dollar until Giving Tuesday on November 28. This means your donation will be worth twice as much! Please see our crowdfunding pages below:

If you’d like to donate in CAD ($), please visit: http://bit.ly/IGGLIFE

For our international donors, please visit: http://bit.ly/MODCLIFE17

Green banner with 'Carol Agnew' written on it. Purple background with photo of Carol smiling in the middle. Green speech bubble saying "New Community Blog Post!". Text at bottom says "Carol's experience with Urban Pole Walking"

Carol Agnew’s experience with Urban Pole Walking

Green banner with 'Carol Agnew' written on it. Purple background with photo of Carol smiling in the middle. Green speech bubble saying "New Community Blog Post!". Text at bottom says "Carol's experience with Urban Pole Walking"
Written by Carol Agnew

In May 2016, I had a Lt Hemorrhagic Stroke. Prior to that, I had been quite physically active, hiking, going to yoga , working out at our local YMCA and snow shoeing in the winter. I did the Terry Fox Run every year. After my stroke, I couldn’t do any of those well loved activities.

Initially, I had in-home therapies through CCAC, to improve my speech and walking skills. In late August, my walking balance had improved and my OT (Occupational Therapist) asked if I had ever heard of Urban Pole Walking. I had several friends who had bought poles, with the intention of pole walking in the summer, so they would be ready for snow shoeing in the winter. However, they had never used them. I got the contact name from my therapist and called the contact person for our local March of Dimes Canada Urban Pole Walking Group. This also led me to Orillia’s Stroke Survivor’s and Caregiver’s Support Group.

When I commented that I was “pretty tippy” and another person said “ We’re all pretty tippy here” I didn’t feel so alone.

My friends started taking me to our local mall on Tuesday mornings for pole walking.  It was a challenging, but wonderful experience. I was able to connect with people, who were experiencing the same struggles and successes as I was. When I commented that I was “pretty tippy” and another person said “ We’re all pretty tippy here” I didn’t feel so alone. I had never met other people who had survived a stroke before and it was wonderful to talk to them over coffee, get tips and talk about shared experiences.

Carol Agnew_Collage
Carol Agnew describing her experiences with Urban Poling – (Video to come!)

The first day of pole walking was really hard. I couldn’t get my poles and my feet to work together. I certainly couldn’t walk & talk!

However, as the Tuesday mornings went by, I was able to go longer distances and soon discovered that I could pole walk while talking. I was improving my both motor skills and endurance, as well as having a social experience with other stoke survivors and my friends.

..I have gained much more. My motor skills and endurance have improved as well as my speech. I have also made several new friends. Going out weekly for a fun activity has made me feel less isolated.

My initial goal for joining the pole walking group was to improve my walking skills, my balance and my endurance for physical activities. However, I have gained much more. My motor skills and endurance have improved as well as my speech. Just as important is that I have also made several new friends. Going out weekly for a fun activity has made me feel less isolated. I have gotten new links to community resources from other survivors, as well as the wonderful volunteers and Pauline Berry from March of Dimes Canada. An unexpected bonus for me was that last weekend, I was actually able to go snow shoeing. That was something I had thought I would never enjoy again. I certainly didn’t go far- just to the fence & back, but I was out enjoying winter again with my friends. Every small success is really a huge accomplishment for a stroke survivor.

World Stroke Day October 29, 2017. Did you know that walking with ACTIVATOR Urban Poles can save lives? Get involved >

In the lead up to World Stroke Day on October 29, 2017 we’ve partnered with UrbanPoling to help promote keeping an active lifestyle through a simple but effective activity – walking! During all of October, Urban Poling will donate 10% of online ACTIVATOR™ pole sales to our Stroke Recovery Canada® (SRC) Program. Take a look at the ACTIVATOR™ poles specs & the benefits of using them: http://bit.ly/UPACTWSD17

If you’re near a participating Guardian & IDA store (http://bit.ly/MODCWSD17) & decide to buy an ACTIVATOR™ Pole in person,  donating $10 to SRC will also get you a free set of snow baskets (for your poles in Winter!).

 

Speechless, "L.I.F.E. Toronto's Thoughts on the Show!"

Speechless // L.I.F.E. Toronto Thoughts!

Speechless, "L.I.F.E. Toronto's Thoughts on the Show!"

During the last couple of sessions of our Learning Independence for Future Empowerment (L.I.F.E.) Program in Toronto, the group was introduced to a new TV show called Speechless. The show follows the DiMeo family as they go through life and the challenges associated with moving to a new town and starting at a new school.

We’re shown the experiences of every member of the family; Maya the overprotective, sometimes meddling mom, Jimmy the carefree dad, JJ the oldest son with a great sense of humor, Ray the brainiac, and Dylan the athletic daughter.

Speechless Cast
Speechless Cast

It’s heartfelt, funny, and quite realistic as many of the L.I.F.E. participants are able to recount similar experiences they’ve had throughout their lives. This show brings Cerebal Palsy into the mainstream in a big way! It also addresses a number of assumptions about disability in order to educate its viewers in a humorous way.

The reason for the title being Speechless is because the main character, JJ, has Cerebral Palsy and uses a communication device in order to speak. It begins with the family moving to a new town and finding a new aide for JJ. Throughout the episodes, there are humorous story lines that really humanize the experience of having a disability for its viewers, who may have no understanding of disability.

The L.I.F.E. Toronto group got together to think of anecdotes they’ve experienced that are similar to those shown in Speechless.

Speechless scene.

In the first episode, JJ walks into his new classroom only to be bombarded with classmates clapping and cheering for him and nominating him for Class President. Participants in the L.I.F.E. program have experienced similar reactions from people in the public when we are out on social outings, “people come up to us and congratulate us on being out and doing activities.”

In another episode, Maya calls JJ over and over again because he failed to show up for his physiotherapist. The group can empathize with JJ on this one and share their similar experiences; Marissa says that she often ignores calls when she is driving her chair because she is staying safe and attentive – whilst also recognizing that not answering her phone may cause people to worry about her.

In the first season, JJ meets Claire, an avid gymnast who is in a wheelchair while she recovers from a gymnastics injury. They become close and JJ decides to tell Claire that he has feelings for her, despite his fear of being rejected. The L.I.F.E. participants can relate to the fear of rejection; rejection from schools, sports teams, programs, and jobs. Jess told the group about her college experience. She made a few good friends throughout the program, but they stopped talking to her near the end of the school year. Jess felt like she had been taken advantage of, she felt they had been her friends to look good for the teacher. The experience caused feelings of rejection for Jess as she left college feeling as though she’d been used.

Jess and Marrisa, participants of our L.I.F.E. Program in Toronto.
Jess and Marissa

We thoroughly enjoyed the Speechless episode called HERO. This episode talks about “inspiration porn.” When Kenneth asks what that is, Ray explains, “it’s a portrayal of people with disabilities as one-dimensional things to only exist to warm the hearts and open the minds of able-bodied people.”

In this episode there is a speech competition and a student who hardly knows JJ decides to write a speech regarding how JJ is his hero.

The L.I.F.E. Toronto group has had similar experiences where people have treated them as if they are “inspirational”. Jess has had some interesting experiences where new PSWs show up at her house and talk to her as if she is a baby. Once they see her college diploma, their tone immediately changes to, “Wow, you went to college!”

Another participant had an acquaintance say to her, “my husband and I could learn some things from you. We think that we have problems and are depressed but then I look at you and realize we don’t have it so hard and shouldn’t complain.” This comment really hurt the participant.

“[inspiration porn] is a portrayal of people with disabilities as one-dimensional things to only exist to warm the hearts and open the minds of able-bodied people.”

Evan shared an experience where his PSW called the attendants at his old apartment “angels”.  L.I.F.E. Toronto staff have also had strangers approach them during outings to compliment them on what a great job they are doing. These types of compliments are quite silly, as the staff are just doing their job. Complimenting staff for no reason can also send the negative message that you assume that people with disabilities are somehow exceptionally difficult to work with.

LIFEToronto_TorontoIslandOuting_RidingFerry_Aug17-2016(5)_EvanCropped
Evan

In another Speechless episode called CHEATER, Maya and Jimmy learn that JJ has been cheating on his exams and that most of JJ’s teachers have been knowingly letting him off the hook. The L.I.F.E. group can relate to this, as some of them have had similar experiences where they forgot to pay their fare on the TTC but did not get questioned or reminded to pay by TTC drivers and fare inspectors.

The L.I.F.E. Toronto group has really enjoyed watching the first season of Speechless. The participants and staff all agree that the show has done a great job in portraying the experiences of persons with disabilities and their families, while dispelling disability-related stereotypes in an empathetic and often hilarious way. The group is eager to continue watching Speechless as soon as the next season becomes available.

Want to learn more about some of the important, fun, social, & general life skills we aim to provide young adults with disabilities who are transitioning to adulthood? Check it out here: http://bit.ly/modcLIFE

Malic, the superhero!

Words by William Shatner

Malic_1200x630_V01

Malic was born in Dubai and was diagnosed with cerebral palsy as an infant when his parents noticed he wasn’t meeting important developmental milestones. They immediately found physiotherapy for him, and continued to maintain a similar structure for him at home, reinforcing what he was learning in his therapy sessions. Though steady, his progress was slow.

MODCBlog_Malic_4
Malic at the museum!

Malic’s parents had heard of Conductive Education® (CE), but it wasn’t offered in Dubai. After the family moved back to Canada, they signed Malic up for March of Dimes Canada’s Conductive Education Summer Camp where they learned that the sky was the limit for this bright and engaging young boy!

 

After their first assessment, the family walked away feeling hope and excitement! The great staff at March of Dimes Canada knows that it is important not only for Malic to believe that he can do anything and everything he wants to do, but that his family believes it too! Malic is continually given challenges that are outside his comfort zone, and he rises to the occasion every time! He is always quick to say “I can do it myself…”

MODCBlog_Malic_3_Resized

Those are words we LOVE to hear at March of Dimes Canada. Those words are why we do what we do.

He loves superheroes, but to me, Malic is the superhero!

Malic’s accomplishments are all 100% his own. He loves to dance, listen to music and play video games just like any other boy. He loves superheroes, but to me, Malic is the superhero! The love, compassion and determination he shows every day of his life exemplifies the March of Dimes spirit.

People like Malic are why I support March of Dimes Canada. I hope Malic’s story will inspire you as it has inspired me.

MODCBlog_Malic_2

I am also pleased to remind you that March of Dimes Canada has been accredited by Imagine Canada’s Standards Program for excellence in financial accountability and transparency, fundraising and governance. Learn more about our Conductive Education® Program by visiting the following link: http://bit.ly/ModcCEP

"Nick Jaroka" - Nick shares his #PathToRecovery story!

Nick’s Path To Recovery

Written by Nick Jaroka

I remember spending time in the rehabilitation unit at Grand River Hospital (Freeport) and evenings quiet, visitors had gone home for the day and this was a time for reflection. One reflection was “now what, what’s next” for the future.

My first exposure to March of Dimes Canada was while going through inpatient rehabilitation; there I met a Linking Survivors with Survivors (LSWS) hospital peer mentor. He had a stroke and was open to talk to me about anything. I remember not being able to speak and frustrated that the words didn’t come out but he was also a stroke survivor and immediately understood, was patient and gave me encouragement to move forward. This LSWS volunteer visited me weekly and each time we met I asked him more questions and felt the hope to keep moving forward.

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Once I transitioned back home and continued with outpatient rehabilitation, I was looking to fill some of the spare time between therapy sessions. I got into contact with the LSWS community coordinator and we met. She (was awesome, fantastic… ha ha ) was able to explain the program and we decided that volunteering as a LSWS peer mentor was a great idea.

grand-river-hospital

I volunteered 2 days a week going back to Grand River Hospital (Freeport) and visited stroke patients. This has been a great experience, every time I visited I learned something new about myself and before I knew it I was finding I could do things I wasn’t able to do before.

These opportunities enable me to continue my rehabilitation but in a ‘give back to community’ aspect – Nick Jakora

While volunteering with LSWS, I also attended the YMCA Fitness for Function program. I approached them to see if it would be possible to volunteer in their programs to encourage survivors to continue their rehabilitation. These opportunities enable me to continue my rehabilitation but in a “give back to community” aspect; some days were tiring, but it was a good tired.

Throughout this stroke recovery path, I had this thought if it would be possible to return to work. This would be a huge financial support for my family if I could even work part time. I again approached the LSWS coordinator and she was able to provide linkages including that March of Dimes Canada has an employment program specific to persons with disabilities.

Nick Jaroka
From L-R: Lisa Livingston (Employment Services Team Leader​) Nick Jaroka (Stroke Survivor), Jennifer Estabrooks (Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist​) and Barbara Moore (Community Coordinator LSWS)​

I used March of Dimes Canada assistance to navigate the systems to get the appropriate referrals and the correct paperwork. I met with a career counsellor to find out exactly what my interests are and possible employment opportunities.

Currently, I’m attending a job search workshop where I continue to learn new things about myself, and how to manage those fears of knowing I had a stroke, what if I don’t understand while on the job, what if I can’t recall, and words or my speech get jumbled? Is this goal even possible? I know that I am not alone and will continue to work on my recovery. My next step will be securing part time employment in a field of new interest and can’t wait for the next step in my path to recovery.

For more resources on Stroke Recovery, please visit our landing page for Stroke Recovery Canada®, which is a national service offering support, education and community programs for stroke survivors, caregivers and their families: http://bit.ly/ModcSRC