Giving Good Days Summer Newsletter- 2023
Introducing Our Friend Jerry
Jerry Wright Dances Through Life
Jerry Wright is 88 years of age, but he prefers to say his latest birthday is the 18th anniversary of when he turned 70. Recently, he and his wife celebrated their 52nd anniversary along with many of their eight children, 13 grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.
He’s lived in Michigan’s lower peninsula since 1943, save for the two years he was stationed in Texas to serve in the U.S Army as a strategic air operations officer before the Korean War. Although he was put on alert to go to Germany, his unit was never called up. Instead, Jerry moved back home in 1960 to start a family, launch a career in advertising and pursue his passion for theater and ballroom dancing. It was not long before Jerry established three dance studios, employing multiple people to teach ballroom, ballet and tap dancing to young students. As Jerry readied for retirement, one of his students ended up purchasing his dance company and continues to teach students in Michigan to this day.
“As we age we are losing our ability to dance,” says Jerry. “But I have a philosophy that you have to keep on keeping on, keep on moving and doing things.”
Despite his positive attitude, Jerry faces a serious challenge with macular degeneration. Six years ago, he learned from a retinal specialist that he would need costly eye injections to maintain his sight. He would need regular treatments for the rest of his life, but at a cost of one thousand dollars per eye per treatment, he considered forgoing it altogether. After his retinal specialist contacted Good Days on his behalf, Jerry learned that with non-profit assistance he would only need to pay $10 in out of pocket costs per treatment.
“It is very expensive, especially at my age and on social security,” says Jerry. “If it wasn't for Good Days, I would probably have said I cannot afford to do this and may be half blind by now. They are a godsend to me and many people.”
Fortunately, the assistance has meant that Jerry can keep his eyesight and his passion for dancing. He began to take physical training to help regain his balance, get energy and build strength so that he could dance again. Soon after, he approached Michigan’s Commission on Services to the Aging to ask if they would be interested in his teaching ballroom dancing and movement to others in his age group. Now, Jerry is back teaching dance in his hometown of Three Rivers with plans to open a second class in Kalamazoo.
“Life’s been good to me,” says Jerry.
PARTNER SPOTLIGHT: U.S. Pain Foundation
Linda Shaw leads a minority community support group for the U.S. Pain Foundation, a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to serving those who live with conditions that cause chronic pain, as well as their caregivers and care providers.
The Foundation focuses on education, empowerment and support to ensure that all individuals who live with chronic diseases and pain are equipped with the knowledge and tools they need to better manage their health journey. Some of their free resources include the Living Well with Chronic Pain booklet, the My Pain Plan interactive website, and national, state-based and mental health support groups.
Linda recently participated in a minority health webinar hosted by Good Days and the Chronic Disease Alliance, where she discussed the importance of sharing stories and connecting with others in and outside her community.
“It gave me strength to hold on to the fact that I mattered,” says Linda. “I believe that this same thing translates to other individuals because normally you don’t have those opportunities to talk about our own personal pain journey.”
The support group that Linda leads is just one of many support groups that the U.S. Pain Foundation offers. All support group leaders have gone through a training program, where they learn to guide productive, compassionate discussions amongst participants. They are also trained in helpful techniques, like meditation, breathing exercises, guided imagery, decision-making models, role-playing, assertiveness skills and more.
All discussions in groups are confidential, and designed with your comfort in mind. For example, participants should feel free to lie down during groups. Currently, all groups are meeting via Zoom. To learn more and sign up for a group, visit uspainfoundation.org/pain-connection/.
“It simply allows an individual to move from a place of mediocrity to a place where you have a platform to share your truth,” says Linda. “There is nothing more powerful, I believe, than having being able to share your truth in a non-threatening environment where you can help someone else move forward.”
KEY QUARTERLY UPDATES
Listen to the latest episode of our podcast The Caregiving Soul with host Dannelle LeBlanc at EmpoweredUs.org!
Season 2 Episode 7: When Caregiving Ends
Patti LaFleur’s mother, who had been diagnosed with dementia had to move in with her and her husband seemingly overnight, they didn’t know quite what to expect. When she began sharing their care partnership on TikTok as @CarepartnerPatti, Patti and her mother’s journey became a comfort and resource for others navigating similar experiences. Since her mother’s passing in 2022, Patti has refocused her energy on her own healing and providing resources about dementia and grief through her social media and website.
Listen, subscribe and share The Caregiving Soul wherever you get your podcasts!
We're on TikTok!
Follow us @TechnicallySick for tips, tricks and life hacks straight from the community to help make your day just a little bit easier.
LETTER FROM CEO & PRESIDENT
As we continue to navigate the challenges of living with chronic illness, I am proud to share the exciting progress that our foundation has made in the past few months.
Since the start of this year, Good Days has already helped more than 255,000 individuals access care that is critical to their health and wellbeing. This past December, we announced a partnership with the non-profit Dollar For that connects our community with advocates who help eliminate past due medical bills from non-profit hospitals. To date, Dollar For has relieved $106,536 in medical debt for individuals who receive assistance from Good Days.
As we work to lift the burdens of chronic illness through assistance, we are also advancing important advocacy and awareness initiatives to help build healthier communities.
I want to thank those of you who were able to attend our recent webinar on addressing health disparities in recognition of National Minority Health Month this past April. It was a truly informative event. Our featured speakers, including Dr. David Murray, associate director of the Office of Chronic Disease Prevention at the National Institutes of Health, spoke eloquently about the challenges that people of color face when it comes to accessing quality healthcare. In addition, we hosted leaders from the National Minority Health Association, American Liver Foundation, U.S. Pain Foundation, Choose Healthy Life and more, who discussed ongoing programs to overcome these disparities. Visit chronicdiseaseday.org to watch that webinar and to learn more about upcoming events related to our annual Chronic Disease Day campaign.
Good Days launched Empowered Us last year, a content network that continues to grow with podcasts and social media communities that support individuals managing chronic illness for themselves and loved ones. Season two of our podcast The Caregiving Soul shares the experiences of real people who are having an extraordinary impact in their care relationships to help others going through similar experiences. Subscribe and listen wherever you get your podcasts.
As always, I am deeply grateful for your continued support of our foundation. Together, we are making a real difference in the lives of those affected by chronic illness each and every day.
CEO & President