The Friends in Action Senior Center is housed in the Moore Community Center in Ellsworth and is for seniors in Hancock County and the general region. It offers a friendly and vibrant place to gather, make new friends, and participate in programs in fitness, meals and nutrition, enrichment, and socialization.
Chris Cherry and his wife Pat were enjoying a hard-earned vacation travelling. They live in Ellsworth in a modest home in town. Chris was 66 years old, both he and his wife had good jobs and were beginning to plan for retirement. Their two daughters were grown and living in other states, so the opportunity to enjoy a vacation together was something that Chris and Pat savored.
One night in a hotel in New Jersey, Chris woke up and knew something was wrong. In describing the incident later, he says he doesn’t remember much after that for a while. He was experiencing what turned out to be a major stroke that paralyzed his left side and left him unable to speak. It was another two months before he and Pat were able to get back home to Maine and after a month of intensive rehabilitation, they wondered how they would manage to continue the treatment that Chris needed. He had started weekly outpatient therapy and went to the YMCA twice a week as well. Pat needed to get back to work as her leave had run out, and with the many unexpected bills, she needed to keep her job at Jackson Lab. A neighbor told them about Friends in Action.
Friends in Action volunteers took Chris to his rehab appointments and to and from the YMCA. It was not a long trip (less than a mile in town!) but impossible without the assistance. Chris worked hard to rebuild his strength and abilities, working out multiple times a week at the Y. In about a year he was able to start driving himself. He wanted to help Friends in Action as a volunteer himself because the help had meant so much to him in a difficult time.
Always interested in having recipients of our services help guide the organization, Friends in Action asked him to serve on our Board of Directors. As someone who had received help from FIA, he could well understand the purpose of the organization and he became a passionate spokesperson. At this time, FIA was beginning to plan for the expanded Senior Center and Chris was very involved in the planning process for more than three years. He served on committees and helped with fundraising. Chris was a leader who helped design the fitness program and his perspective was invaluable. As someone whose confidence had been shaken by the stroke, he had found an avenue that allowed him to become a contributing member of the community again.