Volunteer-run organization gets new lease on life

Langley Community Support Groups Society helps people who have suffered strokes, in a variety of ways.

Steve and Wendy Taylor have benefited greatly from the work of  Langley Community Support Groups Society

Steve and Wendy Taylor have benefited greatly from the work of Langley Community Support Groups Society

Langley Community Support Groups Society founder/facilitator Marilyn Piticco is still living on cloud 9, after a sold-out fundraiser raised $17,000 for her group.

The “Hope After Stroke” fundraiser at Redwoods Golf Course on Feb. 24 was put on by Langley’s Steve and Wendy Taylor as a way to give back to a support group that has given them so much help and hope, but receives so little recognition or funding.

“It really upset me that Marilyn does so much for the group and still has to do her own fundraising too. We knew we wanted to do something,” said Steve.

The couple’s goal was to sell 64 tickets and raise $5,000.

The evening sold out within a week of its announcement with the room at capacity of 100. Most of the attendees were co-workers, customers and friends of Steve’s from Western One and the movie industry who wanted to come out and support him.

Steve suffered his first stroke in 2013. It severely impacted his speech.

“Steve was in hospital for three weeks and rehab for three weeks after that and then he came home at Christmas time and I thought, now what do I do with him?” said his wife Wendy.

“A friend told me about the stroke group and so when I called Marilyn it was like an angel on the other line who understood, who answered all our questions and was patient and kind.”

Piticco invited Steve to join the group and he has been going ever since.

“I really enjoy going. I like the people because they are on the same journey,” he said.

The speech therapy offered in the group had helped his speech enormously.

But then Steve suffered another two strokes in 2014, so after graduating from some of the programs, he is now back involved.

“And happy to be there. I’m going there every Friday,” he said.

LCSGS, once known as the Stroke Recovery Group, has been helping stroke survivors, of every age, with therapy group sessions at the Walnut Grove Community Centre for 20 years now.

Piticco has always run it on a shoe-string budget of in-kind and cash donations. The main sponsor lately has been the Langley Good Times Cruise-In. Now she is so inspired and is more motivated than ever and can start adding hours to the programming.

“But before Steve and Wendy decided to do this fundraiser, I was on my last legs. I just didn’t know if I could do it anymore,” she said.

Steve, even though he struggles with communication, gave an inspiring speech that commanded a standing ovation and tears around the room.

“He has friends that really get it. They were there to make sure there is something out there to support stroke survivors. When Steve spoke, he spoke for everyone in our group. His courage, his message was inspiring and gave so much hope,” she said.

Among the guests were the former federal cabinet minister Stockwell Day, Township Mayor Jack Froese and his wife Debbie, with Jim McGregor and Township councillor Charlie Fox acting as auctioneers for the evening.

The programming offered includes group exercise classes, talk therapy, counselling, occupational and music therapy and other support. She has dozens coming out weekly.

To learn more about LCSGS, call Marilyn at 604-882-4672.