Lynn Schramek started the support group in New York and is extending it to local residents and their partners.
When Lynn Schramek’s husband, Brad, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, the couple began searching for a support group that would allow them to communicate with other families and individuals who were having similar experiences.
But, no matter what group they attended, the overall feeling they left with was not what they wanted.
“At traditional support groups, people would come and vent, and we wanted something more positive,” Lynn Schramek said. “He needed
another connection, a more positive and upbeat program where you could share and learn.”
So, in 2009, Schramek developed her own kind of support group for herself and her husband in their upstate New York community. She called it the Parkinson Café, and she began to garner a following. Now, the New York program has two monthly sessions. Between 20 and 40 people attend each month.
“Dozens and dozens loved it,” she said.
When the couple moved to River Club in 2012, Schramek organized a Parkinson Café Cultural Art Series in Sarasota that focused on social and cultural experiences. This year, however, she decided she would start up a Parkinson Café in East County modeled after her still-running program in New York. The first Café will be held Thursday, Oct. 1.
The monthly session, called First Thursday, is an interactive program that runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the River Club’s Caddyshak Sports Bar and Grill.
The session will include time for coffee and mingling, as well as a guest speaker and yoga session.
The October program features guest speaker Laurel Rund, an artist and writer who will discuss how she is inspired to create art.
“We have something planned every hour to keep the energy upbeat,” Schramek said. “We put a lot into creating this program.”
The purpose of the session is to allow participants to share their experiences, build a network of supportive people with similar experiences and share practical tips with each other about how to live with Parkinson’s or with a partner who has it.
“My husband has had Parkinson’s for 10 years. We have learned how it affects people and solutions for dealing with each challenge,” Schramek said.
She has partnered with the Neuro Challenge Foundation to produce the program. In future sessions, she plans on helping participants connect to community resources by bringing in local health services providers.
“It’s a huge difference (from support groups),” Brad Schramek said. “All you’re doing is supporting people. At the Café, you’re having a good time, and you come up with solutions.”
Participants can register by calling the Neuro Challenge Foundation at 926-6413 or get more information by visiting parkinsoncafe.org.