Community Matters

Greetings from MSAA’s Western Regional Office! As the Western Regional Director, I have a large territory to cover: California, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and Hawaii! I’m often on the road for education programs, and last week was no exception.  We had a wonderful program for neurologists in Woodland Hills, CA with Dr. Andrew Woo on Tuesday, March 12 and another program in Portland, OR with Dr. Liz Crabtree on Thursday, March 14. On Saturday, I went to Las Vegas for a patient education program with Dr. Lilyana Amezcua on “The Changing Landscape of Multiple Sclerosis: The Latest Research and Updates to Help You Live Your Best with MS”.  As always, it was wonderful to spend some time with the dynamic group of MS clients and care partners in Las Vegas.

It’s always amazing to me to come across active groups of MS clients in my travels.  Las Vegas is definitely one of those places!  They have such a strong community of MS clients and care partners there, in no small part due to the work of Darlene Trotsky.  Darlene started a MS Lunch Club seven years ago, and the group is still going strong today!  I remember the first time I had a patient education program in Las Vegas years ago and getting a call from Darlene.  Darlene told me about her group, and offered to help get the word out about the program.  Her energy and commitment to the MS community in Las Vegas was obvious from the start, and this impression was only made stronger once I entered the room for the program.  The level of care and compassion they felt for each other was only matched by their genuine interest in learning as much as they could about MS and better understanding how they could meet the challenges of MS collectively.  There was a recent article in the Las Vegas Review Journal about the wonderful work that Darlene and all involved in her group are doing http://www.reviewjournal.com/life/community-organizations/ms-lunch-club-social-event-purpose.

The Las Vegas MS client community is a wonderful example of what I see throughout my region as I travel.  From the MS Encouragement Group in Phoenix, Arizona to the Alaska MS Center in Anchorage, I am always touched to see MS clients and care partners creating a real sense of community in their areas, and I think that the power of communities is something that shouldn’t be underestimated.  In that spirit, here are some of my favorite quotes about the importance of communities:

  •  “A healthy social life is found only, when in the mirror of each soul the whole community finds its reflection, and when in the whole community the virtue of each one is living.” –Rudolf Steiner
  • “Never doubt that a small, group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” –Margaret Mead

I’ll end on a personal note.  I feel honored to work for an organization that understands the importance of community and lucky to experience that sense on a local level at all of the education programs I attend.  Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop, has a quote that expresses this just perfectly for me.

“I want to work for a company that contributes to and is part of the community.  I want something not just to invest in, I want something to believe in.” I couldn’t have said it better myself!

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