Wende Carver and Judy Bombardier of MS Resource in North Adams are photographed at News Channel 13's studio, where they spoke with news anchor Subrina Dhammi before a fundraiser.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Judy Bombardier’s days as a working woman almost came to an end in April when she retired from Williamstown Commons Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. But Wende Carver, founder of MS Resource of the Tri-State Area, instead convinced her that she should keep working.
Bombardier has assumed the newly created position of executive director of MS Resource, a nonprofit incorporated in 2006 that is located at 85 Main St.
"I've known Judy for years and wanted her for MS Resource. She had all the skills needed, but she was in another position. When she retired I snatcher her up, " Carver said.
Bombardier brings to MS Resource some 40 years experience in the health care field, including several positions at the former North Adams Regional Hospital and 14 years in elder health care, the last seven of which were spent at Williamstown Commons as director of Admissions/Community Outreach.
"Oftentimes families were in tears and overwhelmed when they brought a loved one to our facility. I sat with them, gave them a hug and assured them that everything would be OK. I tried to visit the loved one as often as I could once they arrived,” Bombardier said. “I have my mother’s sense of humor and often donned a funny nose or broke out in song when I passed a resident or when a musical activity was going on.”
Bombardier believes she also inherited her mother’s love of helping people.
“My mother (Ruth Morrissey) volunteered for the American Cancer Society when she was young and was always helping a friend or neighbor. After she passed away in October of 2012, I received over 200 sympathy cards and many were filled with stories of how she had helped them.” Bombardier said.
Bombardier said she knew from a young age what career path she wanted to follow.
"I started at North Adams Regional Hospital as a candy striper when I was 15," she said. “Then when I was applying to colleges and wanted to save some money, I worked three evenings a week in the NARH dietary department. Because I love helping people, I majored in sociology at Trinity College.
Now Bombardier is focused on the mission of MS Resource: To help people with multiple sclerosis and their families live a better quality of life through education, support and information.
It is estimated that there are 450,000 cases of multiple sclerosis in the United States, with the disease found more frequently in the Northeast than in other regions of the country. MS Resource serves western Massachusetts, southern Vermont and northeastern New York
According to the National MS Society, multiple sclerosis is a disease of the central nervous system that varies greatly from person to person. Some people experience numbness, vision impairment, loss of mobility, cognitive issues, bladder and bowel problems. There is no cure for the diseases but it is rarely fatal.
”My job is to do fundraising, market our facility, connect with health agencies and communicate with the general public," Bombardier said. “I feel there are people out there that we do not know about that need our help. People are going through the cracks, and we need to find them.”
Bombardier said her head is brimming over with ideas in her new position: She is working on developing a quarterly newsletter, a new brochure, and an annual appeal for donations. A not-for-profit organization, MS Resource is supported by grants, fundraisers and donations.
“We had a very successful MS gala in April, with Subrina Dhammi (Channel 13 news anchor) as the master of ceremonies,” said Bombardier, referring to a fundraiser held at Proctor’s Theater in Schenectady, N.Y.
In MS Resource’s North Adams office, there are free informational materials about MS, as well as a lending library of educational DVDs and books. Equipment necessities, such as wheelchairs and walkers, are available for loan. For those without computer access, use of in-office computers can be scheduled.
The MS Resource’s web site, msresource.org was recently updated. Information about upcoming events, news about MS, and more is posted on the web site. In addition, s support group meets in the office every third Tuesday of the month from 5 to 6:30 p.m.
Also, on Tuesday, June 17, Beth Mougin, a licensed clinical social worker, will give a talk titled “MS from the Family Perspective.” For more information, visit msresource.org
or call 413-664-2011.