Hudson’s First Annual Teddy Bear Breakfast (TBB), held on a crisp morning (4-11-07) within Alvirne High School’s (AHS) Vocational Center, brought together several groups that spanned the age gamut. As usual, the large and sunny Adult Day Service Program (ADSP) had its typical clientele of a few dozen adults (age 40 - 90), supported by ADSP staff and AHS student volunteers. In addition, there were also a dozen singing and dancing three year olds with their teachers from AHS’ adjacent Little Bronco’s Pre-School along with a handful of other visitors.
ADSP’s Dorothy Frank (left) with Little Bronco’s Sarah A at the Teddy Bear Breakfast.
“This has been such a fun event for our clients and the kids,” exclaimed Sue Tencza-Dean, ADSP Activities Director at AHS, “They’re having an absolute ball – singing, coloring, and hopping around!”
ADSP participant, Norma Fleury shared with a big grin, “I wish I could hop like that again.”
The one hour celebration included a ‘Pony parade,’ singing, coloring, snacks (yummy Teddy Bear cookies), and a live story time. A special highlight was the presentation of personalized teddy bear gifts for each ADSP participant. The pre-schoolers brought their own teddy bears to join the party, too.
The lively event was generously sponsored by a local group largely dedicated to servicing elders, called the Breakfast Exchange Club of Nashua (BECN). “Our idea was to create an inter-generational event for seniors and young children that both could benefit from and enjoy,” explained Nora Sutton, BECN’s TBB Chair. BECN kindly provided the ADSP gift bears, teddy bear cookies, and more. She also cited “Alvirne’s unique set up” – an elder program and pre-school within the Voc Center – as a “key enabler” for the in-house field trip.
Like Sutton, Director of Volunteer Services at Nashua’s Hunt Community, most of the 35 BECN members are closely tied to geriatrics. “Most of us work with seniors and volunteer with seniors,” she shared with a warm smile, “We gotta walk the walk.” BECN meets for breakfast (second and fourth Wednesdays, 8 a.m., firstname.lastname@example.org) at Hunt Community.
The Little Bronco’s Pre-School opened at Alvirne in October 1993, with Pam Prophet, who still serves as its Director. “A very developmental pre-school,” Prophet emphasized, “We adapt to the children instead of making them adapt to us. We also want the kids to feel safe and comfortable with school, so they’ll enjoy it and like school long-term.”
The pre-school runs two half-day programs, October through May. Though Little Bronco’s typically services more than 30 students, the three year olds (mornings) and four year olds (afternoons), rosters respectively sit at 12 and 14. “We surprisingly have a few slots open for next year,” shared Prophet with a laugh, “but that won’t last long.” Prophet also considered the “high-quality and volume of one-on-one time,” a key distinction. Much attention is given to the children, thanks to more than 45 Alvirne students currently taking Child Care.
AHS sophomore, Brittany Loulakis, is taking Child Care at Little Bronco’s. “I love working with the kids and am hoping to work in a child care center someday,” stated Brittany beaming, “My time here is excellent hands-on training.”
The full-circle success of the program is evidenced through Tara McCrady, a Little Bronco’s teacher. The 25 year old Hudson native was a 1999 AHS graduate and previous participant in the Alvirne Voc Center’s Child Care program, which she claimed influenced her professional direction. “My work is very rewarding,” expressed McCrady, “even the obstacles have their benefits.” She also shared her class “enjoys coming over to ADSP” for special holiday visits and events about a half dozen times a year.
The Area Agency of Greater Nashua (AAGN) collaborated with SAU 81 to create the Adult Day Service Program more than a decade ago. Judie Post, AAGN Director of Development, shared at the Teddy Bear Breakfast, “the Area Agency now offers a broader array of programs to support elders and give them more time to live in their own homes and community.” Two new programs include the Kinship Care Program, which offers financial support to care takers of relatives, and Family Care for Adults, akin to senior foster care. “We’ve found our programs benefit not only elders, but also their families by giving them peace of mind,” declared Post.
For more information on the Adult Day Service Program at the AHS Voc-Tech, call 883-0994, e-mail email@example.com, or visit the AAGN at www.areaagencynh.com. The Little Bronco’s Pre-School can be reached at 886-1260 x 2564.
Mrs. Prophet (left) and ten Little Broncos pose at the Teddy Bear Breakfast.
Dr. Conti and his furry friends.
It’s supposed to be spring, but feels more like winter. Saturday had some sun with chilly breezes and Sunday the nor’easter brought rain and snow. Neither was a great day for outdoor activities, but both saw Hudson and Litchfield hold their annual spring rabies clinics.
On both Saturday and Sunday dogs on leashes, cats in carrying cages, and owners lined up to visit the rabies clinics. The dogs barked greetings to each other and to anyone walking by. The cats wished the dogs wouldn’t do that and the owners chatted with each other.
Dr. Garland, who with her husband owns Countryside Animal Hospital, is a Litchfield resident and is their vet. Dr. Conti from Hudson Animal Hospital does the Hudson clinic. Both have excellent abilities to relate to their furry friends and acquaintances.
Thanks to the generosity of two local veterinarians, who donate both time, as well as vaccine and other needed supplies, animals in both Hudson and Litchfield got needed rabies vaccinations.
On Saturday Dr. Conti from Hudson Animal Hospital and his able assistant Julie, donated both time and materials to the Rabies Clinic sponsored by the General Federation of Women’s Club (GFWC) Hudson Junior Woman’s Club. Alvirne High School Vet Tech and a number of her Alvirne Vet Tech students helped. Dr. Conti has a wonderfully calming manner with the animals. Even though frightened, they seem to welcome his touch and never flinch when a shot is given.
Lisa Nute said the Vet Tech students really helped control some of the frightened or excited animals. “Having them work with us is really great.”
For the first time the clinic was held at the Police Animal Control facility. Proceeds from the Clinic will help fund the GFWC sponsored scholarship for a Vet Tech student. “We had 165 pets get their vaccinations, which was slightly less than last year,” said Nute. “We were very pleased with the turnout.”
On Sunday, Dr. Garland and her assistant from Countryside Animal Hospital had a stream of customers despite the downpour mixed with snow. “It’s really not as cold inside the fire station this year as it was last year,” she grinned.
Like Hudson there was a steady stream of pets and owners at the clinic. With registration and the vaccination activity taking place inside the fire station, pets and owners only got wet on their walk to and from the car.
According to Dr. Steven Calawa, President of the Litchfield Historical Society, they have been sponsoring this clinic for more than thirty years. “It’s a great way to show support for the community, and we really appreciate Dr. Garland’s generous donation. We also appreciate the use of the fire station. This gives us a great space for the clinic.”
Dr. Garland gives a rabies vaccination.
Mike Harmon and Andrea Mason sporting their tee shirts which state: “Shares Well with Others” and “I love Andrea’s Kid-Knee”
“Are you busy tomorrow?” asked Mike Harmon, Hudson, to his cousin, and best friend Andrea Mason, of Hudson.
Best friends since childhood, they sat together in English during their Junior year at Alvirne High School, fished together during summer vacations, built Lego’s, and “He even played dolls with me,” commented Andrea, in speaking about their true friendship. However, all of their shared experiences during the last 20 years take second fiddle to Mike’s invitation of “Are you busy tomorrow?” During “tomorrow,” Andrea learned that her best friend needed one of her kidneys so that he could survive.
These best of buddies, each now wear an orange wristband on their respective left wrists. They are unified in intent, commitment of courage and in a purpose they are about to share. Each wristband has a single word inscribed into the orange plastic. The word scribed on the orange bracelets states: “Courage.”
To most, the word courage brings visions of heroic acts, superhero feats, or as dictionary.com writes, “the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain without fear; bravery.”
However, to Mike and Andrea, courage has taken on a whole new meaning. Courage means life.
Andrea, 24, has decided that she will donate one of her kidneys to her cousin in a few weeks. Mike, 23, is sick. Mike has a condition whereby his immune system has damaged one of his kidneys. His kidney is so damaged due to this condition that he must have it removed. The life threatening disease is referred to as MPGN or Membranoproliferative Nephritis.
While the condition of some patients who acquire MPGN remains unchanged for many years, other patients require dialysis or transplantation. Mike requires both dialysis and transplantation.
“MPGN complicates blood pressure, damages the kidneys, and puts a strain on the heart. As a result, kidney failure, circulation issues, as well as a variety of chemical imbalances can occur within the blood stream. This is not an easy condition to treat, and usually doctors rely on treatment of the high blood pressure. If the cholesterol is very high, treatment to reduce the levels may help. Some people may benefit from drugs which affect the action of platelets in the blood, and some from treatment that reduces the activity of the immune system,” stated the National Kidney Foundation.
“The benefits of the transplant outweigh the worries,” commented Harmon when discussing his upcoming operation. “I have been taking large doses of steroids in efforts to stop the inflammation in my kidney. I gained over 60 pounds, and then lost it. I don’t eat much now.”
Wearing a tee-shirt that phonetically spells, “I love Andrea’s kid-knee,” Mike smiles as he looked at his best friend, Andrea, who is wearing a tee-shirt stating “Shares well with others.” Soon, Andrea will have just one kidney, and Mike will have three kidneys.
The surgeons have told Mike, that the new kidney will be placed lower in his abdomen, behind his hip-bone, or pelvis. In time, the damaged kidney in Mike’s body will shrivel, and cease to function.
While Andrea could leave the hospital within a day or two following the removal of her kidney, Mike’s recovery could be a little more involved.
Mike will spend up to seven days in the hospital after the operation as doctors will continually monitor his body’s acceptance of the new organ. When Mike is released from the hospital, he will not be able to drive a vehicle for two weeks, and he will not be able to lift an object over 10 pounds. He will be out of work for one month.
Once Andrea has donated her organ to her cousin, she will live the rest of her life with just one kidney. Medical experts have assured Andrea that her remaining organ will double in size within two years and that one organ will have the capacity to handle the responsibilities of both organs. “The good news,” stated Andrea laughing, “is that I move to the top of the list if I ever need a kidney, because I was an organ donor.”
Research has also shown that organs donated by family members increase the success rate of the match. Both Andrea and Mike have an A positive blood type, and research has shown that when “those who donate organs are from the same family, fewer complications arise,” commented Andrea.
Soon, Michael will stop ingesting his daily routine of 15 - 20 different medications to regulate his failing kidney. These life saving medications, while they control the activities of his kidney, also cause daily nausea and discomfort. Since a junior in high school, Mike has suffered and has had to deal with the ill affects of a kidney which has not operated and performed as it should.
In high school, Michael played the trombone in the Alvirne High School Jazz Band. As a member of the band, he traveled throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe with the elite jazz band performing before thousands of spectators. After high school, despite his failing kidney, Mike stood with courage and received a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of New Hampshire where he graduated Cum Laude.
Andrea will undergo the three to four hour surgery first. Once completed, her surgeon will “hand carry,” her kidney to cousin, Mike. Mike’s surgery will also last three to four hours. While they will be in two separate operating rooms, they will be united as they each have an orange wristband inscribed, “Courage.”
The courage shared by Andrea and Mike can be witnessed through the connection they share when they look at one another. While looking at Mike, Andrea stated, “I feel confident, and I am comfortable … I have been lucky, I take care of myself. I have done research on those who donate; relatives are the best match.”
“If you need me, let me know,” commented Andrea. All Mike had to ask was, “Are you busy tomorrow?”