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White Rock/South Surrey Stroke Recovery Branch resumes in-person programming

At risk of merger, officials appeal for volunteers, board members and donations

After challenges posed by the pandemic and changes to its board, the White Rock/South Surrey Stroke Recovery Club is focused on getting back to business.

But what the future holds is a little blurry.

Program instructor Laurie McFarlane said without an injection of funding and volunteers, the club as it is currently known may actually cease to exist, becoming instead a part of After Stroke BC/March of Dimes Canada.

“With the recent resignation of our treasurer, Ann Baker, who really is the backbone to the WRSS Stroke Recovery branch, the branch is in a rebuilding stage with the risk of being merged,” McFarlane said.

If that happens, “we relinquish any financial decisions and/or decisions on programming, planning etc.”

McFarlane is hopeful that spreading word of the club’s positive impact and how it has adapted following a two-year, pandemic-triggered closure of its in-person programs will – as such appeals have done in the past – spur the community to help.

READ ALSO: Stroke survivors finding ‘magic, family’ with White Rock group

“White Rock is an amazingly caring and generous community and I know if they knew what our needs are in re-opening to our in-person program, they would be there for us!”

The local branch has an annual budget of $30,000, gleaned through donations and grants.

With those funds, it provides programs for stroke survivors including ‘neurobics,’ chair exercises and an aphasia class.

For the past two years, those programs were held virtually via Zoom, but McFarlane said the recent reopening of in-person programming offered an opportunity for a hybrid model, which she described as the “best of both worlds.”

It runs every Tuesday, from 10 a.m. till noon at the Centre for Active Living, with room for 24 people in-person. While demand initially exceeded the space – a sign of the program’s value to attendees, but a challenge to manage – McFarlane said that has since stabilized due to the virtual option, which eight stroke survivors are now taking advantage of.

READ ALSO: The long road to recovery after stroke

She said she also continues to run a weekly walking/gardening program with a grant from Alexandra Neighbourhood House/Vancouver Foundation, leading 20-25 survivors in an hour of walking followed by an hour of gardening every Monday. They meet at the Centennial Park track (at the corner of Anderson Street and North Bluff Road).

That program’s success continues to blossom in many ways, she said.

“I have seen some amazing friendships developed over the past 5 years.”

She said one participant has even been teaching the group about the pollination of Mason bees, which inspired another to build a bee house.

Getting word out about the branch – which has been operating locally for more than 40 years – and its need for volunteers and board members, is high on McFarlane’s priority list. Monetary donations are also needed and appreciated, she said, noting appeal letters are being sent to local support groups.

She’s also arranged to show the program to White Rock Mayor Megan Knight next month, “so she has a better understanding on who we are and what we offer.”

For more information on the branch and its programs, or to donate, email
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Tracy Holmes

About the Author: Tracy Holmes

Tracy Holmes has been a reporter with Peace Arch News since 1997.
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