Van Roberts, shown in his green house where he is currently growing plants and flowers for our volunteer-led Adaptive Gardening Project which will create personal gardens for individuals with MS in skilled nursing. Diagnosed with MS himself, Van serves on the MS Society California Housing Taskforce which focuses on accessible/affordable housing and increased options for long-term care. Van worked in construction management for 25 years and has used his expertise to develop the “Around the House: Home Improvements to Meet Your Changing Needs” program which has been presented in every regional area the chapter serves. Van’s vision includes further developing the chapter’s home modification program and advocating for public policy and funding to increase long-term care options for people with MS in Kern County.
Ray and Lisa Karpe are not only members of The Golden Circle and the Chapter Board of Trustees, they also volunteer for Kern County's Caring Connection program as well. The Caring Connection program trains individuals to visit people with MS in skilled nursing facilities. Visitors share life experiences and provide emotional support and companionship. Lisa is the lead volunteer for the program and both she and Ray visit weekly with several skilled nursing residents with multiple sclerosis. Lisa explains, "The Caring Connection program works two-fold through visits: you try to make the individual's day a little bit brighter and you become companions; you also try to provide a voice for them if they are having any difficulties, and provide information on Society programs and services." Lisa knows the importance of such a connection as her mother had MS and resided in a skilled nursing facility for many years.Ray and Lisa are also involved in Walk MS in Bakersfield which raises money for both research and local programs and services. She said, "We have to find a cure, but in the meantime, the Society gives people the chance to live to their fullest potential."
Gail Clark said of her volunteer experience, "When I was asked to write a short statement on why I volunteer at the MS office, it made me stop and really think about what I do and why I do it. My husband was 38 when he was diagnosed with primary progressive MS. We had formerly been able to scuba dive, play tennis, backpack, square dance, travel, garden and work in our yard. I was there as he fought to keep his independence and dignity. As he went from cane to walker to wheelchair to electric wheelchair, we adjusted. We had hand controls installed in the car, we bought the van that he could enter in his wheelchair and drive. Eventually I drove and he was the passenger. We had cement poured in walkways around the yard, so he could get to the garden. The bathroom was remodeled. Everyday things like stairs, soggy grass and buffets became enemies. He fought so hard. I want to be able to do something to help Kim and Fotini have more time to do their job. I guess I consider myself a foot soldier in the battle to cure MS."
I volunteer as the Raffle Coordinator at the Walk MS in Bakersfield. I have done the job for a couple of years and really enjoy working with the Walk planning group as well as meeting and talking with the people at the event. I finally got involved after being diagnosed in 1997 with the disease. I know we will find a cure in the near future because of the wonderful and determined people that work and volunteer for the National MS Society.
Having a mother who suffers from MS prompted Cameron to decide to do his Eagle Scout project to help the local Chapter. His project is twofold: making signs for the city and displaying them during MS Awareness week and constructing a donor board for the chapter office. The board will be used to display outstanding Walk MS teams, volunteers and groups in the city that have been exceptional in their donation efforts. Cameron feels his help to the MS community in Bakersfield is beneficial because it is one of the lesser known groups and he would like to get the message out that there are hundreds of people in Kern County who live with this disease.