YMCA program making big difference

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Falmouth resident Beth Harrod is a longtime member of the Adaptive Services program at the YMCA of Southern Maine Casco Bay Branch, located in Freeport.

Harrod suffered traumatic brain injury in 2000, when her car pinned her against utility pole in a freak accident. Once she was able, Harrod wasted little time hooking up with the YMCA program, which has been in existence since the Casco Bay Branch opened in 1998. Her progress has been remarkable.

Harrod’s story underscores the importance of the annual Adaptive Services Auction, a fundraiser held by the Casco Bay Branch, YMCA of Southern Maine to benefit the program. This year’s auction is April 7, from 6-9 p.m., at the Hilton Garden Inn of Freeport. The evening will include silent and live auctions, hors d’oeuvres and wine bar, as well as presentations.

Harrod, 47, a former philosophy professor at the University of Southern Maine, recalled the day of the accident.

“I had stepped out of the car to get my mail, on a hill, and the car rolled into a telephone pole and crushed me,” she said. “I was in a coma for two weeks. I’ve spent the last 15 years trying to come around again.”

The accident left Harrod with brain injury symptoms that mimic Parkinson’s Ddsease. She also was left with short-term memory problems, and the damage to the left side of her body.

“I wanted to try to get my walking better and be able to stand up straighter,” she said about her reason she turned to the Adaptive Services program. “My left side was almost paralyzed.”

Harrod has worked with Dale Wing and Jacob Thich to strengthen her body. She has taken part in a variety of exercises, including the treadmill and the Biodex bike, which is designed to promote isokinetic, or constant movement, abilities. It took her a few years, she said, to improve the strength on her left side, and it’s still a work in progress.

For the past six months, Harrod has taken part in an Active Movements class, Mondays and Wednesdays.

“We do a variety of exercises working with our range of movements, even eye mucles looking at tennis balls going by,” Harrod said. “Jake has really been there for me. He’s really supportive.”

Through both group and one-on-one sessions, the YMCA Casco Bay Branch helped 138 people with its Adaptive Services program last year. The Y did all that with three staffers – Thich, Britney Barr and Wayne Curtis. Some sessions are group programs for cancer survivors, called Livestrong at the YMCA, and held twice weekly. The Casco Bay Branch just started a Parkinson’s support group that also meets twice weekly, and another for people with neurological conditions.

“We do some group programs, but we do a lot of one on one with people, too,” said Scott Krause, Casco Bay Branch executive. “Some individuals in our community need a lot of extra support to get back on their feet and that’s where we’ve reached out.”

Krause said that the annual cost of Adapative Services is “well over” $100,000, which is why the annual auction is so important.

Last year, the auction raised $55,000.

“We’d love to raise more,” Krause said. “If we could raise more, we’d do more. We live in a really supportive community. We’re very appreciative of all the business support, and all the individual suport.”

Bess Harrod stands with one of her trainers, Jacob Thich, at the YMCA of Southern Maine Casco Bay Branch in Freeport. Since 2000, Harrod, who has traumatic brain injury, has worked to regain her strength and mobility in the Y’s Adaptive Services program.

A closer look

The annual Adaptive Services Auction, a fundraiser held by the Casco Bay Branch, YMCA of Southern Maine to benefit the program, is Thursday, April 7, from 6-9 p.m., at the Hilton Garden Inn of Freeport. The evening will include silent and live auctions, hors d’oeuvres, wine bar, as well as presentations. For more information on purchasing tickets or donating an item, contact Robin Bosse, membership director, rbosse@ymcaofsouthernmaine.org or 865-9600.

For more information on the Adaptive Services program, see www.ymcaofsouthernmaine.org.

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