Mary Talbo had one goal: going home. That goal was realized on June 12, a few days after volunteers made her Marion home safe for her return.
Talbo, in a wheelchair because of multiple sclerosis, had been in a nursing home, unable to return to her house because it was not wheelchair-ready. The National MS Society Upstate New York Chapter chose Talbo’s home as one of 37 around the state to fix up on MS Service Day, June 9.
The downpours in the region that day did not dampen Talbo’s spirit.
“The weather did not cooperate,” said Talbo, “but I was very grateful for what I got. They got done as much as they could in the rain.”
MS Service Day put more than 200 volunteers into homes in 18 Upstate New York counties, to perform household chores and minor repair work for people who are living with MS. These included tasks like mowing the lawn, shampooing carpets, organizing, landscaping, painting, or fixing a broken door; things the person may have difficulty completing because of the progression of their disease. Volunteers with MS Service Day help people with MS improve their home as well as their quality of life.
Talbo had given staff members at the Chapter a list of work she needed done in order to move back into her home. The list mostly included outdoor work like stabilizing a worn-down wheelchair ramp and a railing on her deck.
About a half-dozen volunteers worked tirelessly in the rainstorm securing the structures and then power-washing them. The crew also cut down overgrown bushes and hauled them away.
“They did their darndest,” said Talbo, “and let me say ‘thank you’ for the whole thing.”
Talbo, diagnosed 34 years ago with MS, ended up in a wheelchair less than 10 years after diagnosis.
The disease, which affects two to three times more women than men, affects people differently. Two out of three people with multiple sclerosis remain able to walk over their lifetime, though many will use an assistive device. Multiple sclerosis, an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system, interrupts the flow of information within the brain and between the brain and the body. In Wayne County, more than 200 people are living with MS, and more than 12,400 people are diagnosed with it in the 50-county area included in the Upstate New York Chapter.
The Chapter relies on corporate donations to support MS Service Day, and money not used for the program is put into the MS Independence Fund to pay for home improvements maintenance and modifications year-round.