Langley community comes through to help stroke survivors

Hope for Stroke program was facing unexpected funding shortfall until several stepped up

With a new year comes new beginnings for Langley’s Hope After Stroke group, thanks to community members who came up with $13,500 in donations to save the program that helps stroke survivors of all ages.

Marilyn Piticco, founder of the stroke survivors group, made a public plea for help at Christmas after learning that her group was facing an unexpected $7,000 funding shortfall.

The loss of money meant she would have to make some serious changes to the services she could offer.

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The Township of Langley Firefighters’ Charitable Society ( TLFCS ) had come across the Times newspaper article chronicling the hardships faced by the Langley Hope-After-Stroke group, and they knew they had to help.

The local firefighters’ charity donated $3,500 to the group, bringing the cheque to one of the first sessions of 2018.

“Our thought was to cover a large portion of the shortfall that Marilyn spoke about in the article as a one-time donation,” said TLFCS committee member Gareth Lockhart who delivered the funds.

“This would give them some time to prepare for this season’s low donation level and make some adjustments and help them offer their usual level of service through the year.”

Piticco is beyond grateful for the donation and loves the continued connection with firefighters.

“This donation will allow us to breathe a little easier for the next few months until we are able to find the additional funding needed for this year. There was a very real possibility of us having to close one of our days a week, which would dramatically affect our program,” she said.

“We have two groups that operate very differently from each other and one is for young stroke survivors. Many of those stroke survivors were working and raising families when they suffered a stroke, making for a whole different set of difficulties. We are often their lifeline and with the support and encouragement from our program they are able to find their way back.”

Piticco said others read the article, too, and stepped up.

“Lordco is our sponsor, so the company had a cheque for me for $1,000 and then the owner personally wrote a cheque for $3,500,” she said. “I had another supporter who was traveling in the States and read about our troubles online and called me right away to ask how he can help.”

With donations totalling $13,500, the pressure is off for this year.

But the situation has shown that there is a need for more secure fundraising efforts. The aim of the Township of Langley Firefighters’ Charitable Society is to benefit the citizens they protect as firefighters through local charitable programs and to assist other charities with similar objectives that operate in the best interest of their community.

For the past 22 years, Piticco has made it her life mission to offer a twice weekly program for stroke survivors based out of the Walnut Grove Community Centre.

She currently has around 35 members who attend weekly. It’s a community, a family. Many stroke survivors say the group is a lifeline.

Stroke survivors vary in age, some joining the group in their late 20s or 30s. Some are moms of young children, said Piticco. The group is positive, and members have fun with dance parties and themed lunches, sports in the centre’s gym and other activities, including visits from their favourite therapy dog.

“A really cool example of what goes on here is I received a phone call from one of our member’s wife over the holidays who was communicating on her husband’s behalf.

“He wanted to tell me that he got a job. He came to us as a dad of two kids under the age of 10 who didn’t really engage at first. Since being with us, he has come to life. He radiates joy now (and) is a talented photographer. With a lot of our guys not being able to work because of stroke is very difficult on them — difficult on their self worth. This group offers them a purpose and a social outlet,” Piticco said.

Another loss was going to be the kinesiology students who learn practicum skills through volunteering with the programs, she said.

“Many who have come through our program have stayed in touch and have gone on to become amazing OTs and physiotherapists,” she said.

Now that this year is secure, Piticco said she is ‘fired up’ and will be hitting the streets looking for additional sponsors to ensure the program remains on solid ground.

“I’ve been going paycheque to paycheque, so to speak. Our programs truly offer hope for stroke survivors. If you are business that wants to see where their donation is going, come to one of our sessions and see,” she urges.



monique@langleytimes.com

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