René Gendron and Angie Moore thank the public for their support as the MS Society closes its doors in Vernon. (Submitted)

MS Society closes North Okanagan doors

After 20 years of service, the local group is no longer

From a grateful group of staff and volunteers, we at the Vernon MS Society would like to express our heartfelt thank you to the North Okanagan for all of its generous support over the years.

If you are not yet aware, the Vernon MS Society has closed its doors after 20 years of service in this community.

I, Rene Gendron, was diagnosed with MS in 1978. I have acted as president of the Vernon MS Society, on and off, for more than 15 years.

The Vernon MS Society became a legal society in 1999 with about 30 members.

When I moved into Vernon in 1991, there was an existing society called the Reaching Out MS Society.

There as also an MS support group organized by a woman named Joyce Moore.

Joyce was a lady who moved to Vernon from 100 Mile House after being diagnosed with MS—a true country girl who wanted no part of politics.

I couldn’t say “no” when she asked me to represent her support group at their monthly meetings.

I met with Reaching Out MS Society representing the Vernon MS support group, but I got tired of their ways when they got mad at me for showing off my plaque to the Vernon Support Group before showing it to them. (My sister-in-law walked with her husband in the Kamloops MS Walk and won the best team award in the MS Walk in Kamloops for funds raised. Their team was called TEAM RENE).

READ MORE: Grand Parade walk for MS comes to Vernon

The Vernon Support Group wanted to walk the following year in Vernon to raise funds and the Reaching Out MS Society said ‘No Way!’

We had a few meetings we decided our members should separate and do our own things.

Reaching Out moved to Salmon Arm and we formed the Vernon MS Society. We opened our drop-in centre at People Place.

We had trained peer counsellors, books and educational meetings.

We helped newly diagnosed MS people. We helped with purchases of needed medical equipment, and we helped with LifeLine and transportation to doctors and the MS clinic in Kelowna.

We enjoyed a great 20 years.

We had an annual Christmas Dinner at the Village Green Hotel that was free for all members and their children and grandchildren.

That got too expensive and we had to move to the Eagles Hall.

We held an annual pot luck lunch at Kin Beach, free to all members and guests.

We had a pot-luck lunch every fourth Thursday at People Place to socialize and compare notes.

I guess you could say we were an ideal MS support group with a charity number too.

We also purchased batteries for electric wheelchairs at half the price of medical stores.

Damn, we were good!

In later years funds were getting harder to come by.

We relied on a good office manager to keep us operating, and donations from the Vernon Lions, Eagles Ladies Auxiliary, Army-Navy Air Force, Bookland, Kal Tire and various generous people.

I was called a good president, but the office managers and the generosity of so many people that kept us going deserve the credit.

I was getting too tired and nobody wanted to step in and I had to resign.

I got to meet a lot of people and I made a lot of friends along the way.

Thanks for all your help. I am proud of what we did on our 20-year run.

I met a lot of wonderful people that I will never forget.

We will still meet and talk to newly diagnosed MS people with male or female counsellors through our peer support group.

For information on the MS peer support group, please call Independent Living at the People Place in Vernon. 250-545-9292

Thank you for all your support.

Rene Gendron

READ MORE: MS Walk spreads support


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