Sewickley-based stroke support group welcomes members
Bea Morrow of Sewickley said she remembers thinking that she was too young to be a stroke victim.
“I thought I had the flu,” she said. “I was so sick with aches and pains, and the flu was going around so much then that is was hard to get an appointment to see the doctor.”
When she finally did see her physician, he asked her to walk across the room and noticed her foot was dragging behind her.
“He said, ‘I think you've had a stroke,'” Morrow said.
Only 51 at the time, she said, she was surprised and shocked at the diagnosis. She had to quit her job as a rural postal carrier, which required her to walk to some destinations.
The worker who took over for her told Morrow that one of the postal customers had recommended that she check out the St. Stephen's Sewickley Stroke Support Group.
“I was reluctant. I didn't think it would help,” she said.
But, when her friend kept encouraging her to try it, Morrow said, “ I thought, ‘OK, I'll go and see what it's all about.'
“It turned out to be the best thing I could have done for myself.”
That was in 1991, and Morrow, now 73, still attends meetings, which are held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month at St. Stephen's Church, 405 Frederick Ave., Sewickley.
But, now after 27 years, membership is dwindling, volunteer Louise Skrabut said.
Although the group used to have as many as 35 members, it now has about 16, and some of those members aren't able to make it to the meetings anymore.
Skrabut said she is hoping more members and potential members will come to the group's Christmas party from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday at St. Stephen's Church. New members are asked to bring someone with them and talk to a nurse at the meeting.
Both Morrow and Skrabut said they don't want to see the group end, because it has done so much good for so many people.
“I don't think a lot of people know about the group. We never advertised it before, because we never really had to,” Skrabut said.
And, some people who do know about the group are reluctant to join. “They don't realize how good it would be for them,” Morrow said.
During the meetings, members participate in an exercise session with trained nurses, Linda Taylor or Adrienne Groom, to improve strength and balance and brain activities to improve memory loss.
Skrabut said she has seen members make a lot of progress through the programs.
“The whole group yells and cheers when someone moves their fingers who couldn't do it before,” she said.
Morrow said the group has helped her physically with the exercise training and emotionally because she met so many new friends who understood what she was going through.
“We all are very close. We're like family,” she said.
Skrabut agreed that the group is more like a social club.
“I think of it as an over-50 club, but you have to have a stroke first to join,” she said with a laugh.
“We all call each other and send birthday cards. One lady said when she lost her dog, she got about 10 cards from people.”
Morrow said she has loved participating in the many social events and activities over the years to help members get out of the house, stay active and enjoy time with other members.
Members eat together at Hoss's Steak and Sea House in Moon Township on the first Wednesday of each month. They also make treats for Meals on Wheels, made a quilt for The Watson Institute in Leet Township and have participated in other outings such as going to the movies, bowling and picnics.
Skrabut came to the group 11 years ago with her late husband, Michael, who had a stroke and was in a wheelchair. Morrow said she remembers Skabut's husband bowling from his wheelchair and having a great time.
After he died in 2009, Skrabut said she kept coming to the group as a volunteer, because she just loved the people so much.
She is not the only one who has stayed with the group as a volunteer.
Pat Fulton joined in 1986, a year after Carole Churchill formed the group, and the late Jean Dixon volunteered for 25 years. Joanne Barron is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-324-1406 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.