The ALS Association Greater Philadelphia Chapter was built on community and hope. Forty years ago, when the founders of the Chapter first saw a need to support families affected by ALS, they knew it was important to take time to listen and found value and comfort in support groups.
Today these resource groups come in many forms. Sometimes people meet at clinic offices. Sometimes people meet online. Now a group of people who attend the ALS Association Certified Treatment Center at Hershey Medical Center have created a new outlet and formed a bond built on hope and community. The Hershey ALS Resource Group, facilitated by Chapter Staff Psychologist Alair Altiero, PhD., is finding their own way to Help Hope Grow.
Jennifer Warren has been living with ALS for 13 years. She and her husband Dave had an idea that started with a seed and has now blossomed into a Garden of Hope. The Warrens offered a plot of land in the Hershey Community Gardens for a group to grow flowers and herbs as a way to represent ALS families. There are other plots in the gardens dedicated to disease such as breast cancer and multiple sclerosis and now there is a special place for people with ALS to come together and grow something beautiful and lasting.
Dave Warren is the manager of the gardens and others have found their own role to making this garden a place of peace and happiness for those with ALS. Lura Sawyer, whose husband Peter has ALS, is the coordinator of the garden. She makes sure that it gets watered and that new flowers and herbs are planted. Brad and Marti Bert and other ALS families help volunteer, bring their families, and tend to the garden regularly.
This growing ALS community tends to the garden and also tends to each other both in person and through an online Facebook group. Lura and others post positive comments to each other and they share pictures of the progress at the garden.
ALS can be very difficult. There are many times that it is simply unbearable. The garden at Hershey Medical Center is helping to bring some moments of peace and togetherness. Each seed that is planted nurtures more hope for something beautiful. That beauty can be seen with the flowers that have bloomed, but it is felt every day by this community of people, sharing bonds of a terrible disease, who are growing something special together that they can share with the world.
If you would like more information about the Greater Philadelphia Chapter’s resource groups, email Alair@alsphiladelphia.org or visit www.alsphiladelphia.org