Kat Berkeley, left, Eilly, Ron and Sherry from the Port Alberni Stroke Recovery Group meet Thursday mornings at Abbeyfield House in the basement. ORLANDO DELANO PHOTO

VALLEY SENIORS: Port Alberni group provides support for stroke survivors

The Stroke Recovery Foundation of BC has assisted thousands of stroke survivors and their families



For the past 40 years the Stroke Recovery Association of BC (SRABC) has assisted thousands of stroke survivors and their families to improve their overall quality of life after a traumatic experience. The association’s mission is “to enhance the independence and community integration of people with disabilities.”

The foundation has around 30 local stroke recovery branches. Here in Port Alberni the association has a membership of three to five per session, and holds regular meetings in the basement of Abbeyfield every Thursday morning, under the coordination of Kat Berkeley.

“Our first meeting was in September 2018,” says Berkeley, who was hired to start and facilitate the local group under the mandate of Stroke Recovery of BC and “March of Dime Mandates”(“March of Dimes Canada” provides a wide range of services to people with physical disabilities throughout the country).

“Part of my job as coordinator is to help find the resources/information they need, whether physical or mental or material. I refer people to other agencies or groups or just be an information researcher.

“Our goal is to help transition stroke survivors back into society and improve their life in meaningful, practical ways.”

Another goal of this support group is its social component, which assists survivors to interact and help one another. Peer support and understanding is vital for emotional health and well being.

Eilly, a group member says that she has only been with the program for three weeks. “I enjoy attending and chatting and laughing with the people,” she said. “I have learned a lot regarding strokes, as we can compare notes.”

One member, Ron, says, “I like to joke around, a fun place to be. I like doing tai chi and get along with the group.” Another member, Sherry, adds, “I like to talk to everyone and see how everyone is doing.”

Berkeley became involved with the Stroke Recovery Association not only because she is an empathetic person and enjoys helping others, but also because she has firsthand experience in being a caregiver. She looked after her late husband, Arthur, at home for five years. He suffered from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease).

“Arthur was basically immobile and needed 24/7 care,” she explained.

Berkeley does creative things in her artistic life: meditation and tai chi. She sews medieval and steampunk outfits and creates purses out of very strange items, like a plastic skull. In addition, she writes poetry and reads it to the public at Words on Fire on the last Thursday of the month at Char’s landing.

“We, in our Stroke Recovery group, are looking for volunteers who have experience in exercise or in helping seniors, or want to learn what living with a stroke is like and how to help them,” says Berkeley.

For more info, please contact Kat Berkeley via e-mail at portalbernistrokerecovery@gmail.com.

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