Recently a good friend of mine shared that he has a friend, John*, who is going through a rough time. My friend Bob Lackey, who has moved out of the area, knows about rough times. Six years ago he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. He was devastated by the news and wasn’t sure he was prepared for what the disease had in store for him. But through helping others he found a way to help himself.
So what did Bob tell John?
“No matter how you feel, get up, dress up, show up, and never give up. Your team is ready to help. Use them. Lean on them. Talk to them. There will be good days. There will be bad days. There will be so-so days. We’ve scouted this situation to the max. Here’s the game plan. Take advantage of the good days. Live life like there’s no tomorrow. The bad days are a struggle. Do whatever you have to do to survive. Read a book. Take a nap. Watch a movie. Call me. I’m a good listener. Survive! A good day is just around the corner. Tolerate the so-so days. Do the best you can. As with the bad days, a good day is waiting to happen.”
Following his own diagnosis, Bob began speaking with newly diagnosed Parkinson’s patients. Some of what he shares is disease-specific, some is motivational, and some is inspirational. Bob also realized support wasn’t available for those with the disease on our side of town, though there was a group in Boardman.
So the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation, Jewish Community Center of Youngstown, and the Ohio Chapter of the Parkinson’s Foundation stepped up to help. Funding was provided through the Thomases Family Endowment, the Ohio Chapter of the National Parkinson’s Foundation, and Mercy Health Foundation, with the JCC providing the space. Individuals with Parkinson’s now have the opportunity to participate in Delay the Disease, a fitness program designed to empower people to take control of the disease with daily exercise. Later, a support group portion was added. Facilitated by Jewish Family Services, it offers education, positive coping skills, emotional support, and a way to create further comradery among those participating in the program. This program is free and open to the public.
It’s wonderful that Bob can be there for his friend, much in the same way that we are here for the community. We offer services and programs that help people in crisis and for other needs, no matter what they are.
Whether it’s a loved one who is slowly declining in their mental capacities and needs adult day services, a nursing home, rehabilitation, or assisted living, or has social service needs, or needs socialization and physical fitness opportunities, we have you covered through Heritage Manor, Levy Gardens, Jewish Family Services, and the JCC.
Bob is finding meaning in helping others. We find meaning in helping others, too. Our mission states: The mission of the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation is to sustain and enrich the quality of life for the Jewish people regionally, in Israel, and worldwide. We are guided by the values of Tzedakah (righteousness), Klal Yisrael (the responsibility of each Jew for another), Dor l'dor (the continuity of the Jewish people), and Tikkun Olam (repairing the world).
I know Bob will continue to be there for the Federation and others, as we will, too – we’re here for the entire community.
I wish you all a happy and healthy New Year!
*name has been changed
Executive Vice-President, Youngstown Area Jewish Federation