Unsung Heroes: Jim Evers found a Way to Help those who Love to Dance

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BY JANIE ROSMAN 

Leslie Barnett (Co-Facilitator) at Jim Evers receiving the 2015 Senator Eugene Levy Memorial Independent Living Award for Grassroots Community Service Projects during the 25th Anniversary of the American Disabilities Act. Submitted by Rockland Independent Living Center
Leslie Barnett (Co-Facilitator) at Jim Evers receiving the 2015 Senator Eugene Levy Memorial Independent Living Award for Grassroots Community Service Projects during the 25th Anniversary of the American Disabilities Act.
Submitted by Rockland Independent Living Center

Nanuet resident Jim Evers knows the importance of movement and fellowship with one’s community.

“I started Grassroots Community Service Projects in 2010 shortly after my wife died in 2008,” Evers said. Since then the program added co-facilitators Leslie Barnett and recently Sally Borgman.

Susan Lust heads the Movement for Joy program, which began in 2010 under the direction of Janet Baker and is dedicated to his beloved wife.

“It started organically and gets input from community members and then makes things happen,” Rockland Independent Living Center Deputy Executive Director Lorraine Greenwell, LMSW, MPH, said. “There’s a class for people who have Parkinson’s disease and a smart high school project, a new project about aging in place and a storytelling project.”

Last spring the five-year-old organization received the Senator Eugene Levy Memorial Independent Living Award during the 25th Anniversary of the American Disabilities Act, given by the Rockland Independent Living Center.

Evers said a big part of the award goes to three projects: Movement for Joy, Arts Inclusion, and the Rockland County Village Community. Each is detailed on the Grassroots Project’s website: http://www.grassrootsprojects.org/wp/about-3/

Barnett helped facilitate the Grassroots Community Service Projects and she wanted to spread the word about its programs and get people interested.

“Movement for Joy is a dance program, and its dancers are specifically trained to work with people Parkinson’s disease,” she said. Arts inclusion involved kids Clarkstown South Central School District. She and Evers taught at the Learning Collaborative in Sparkhill and decided to continue the program.

Lust, who is trained through the Mark Morris Dance Group to teach people with Parkinson’s disease, met Evers while working with patients and dancing for them in hospitals. In Rockland County, six dancers have taken the training and are certified in dance for Parkinson’s.  

“I met a woman with Parkinson’s disease and went home to Google ‘Parkinson’s disease and dance’ because I knew there had to be a relation,” she said. “One of the women in the group introduced me to Jim.”

Movement for Joy, which meets monthly at the Nyack Yoga Studio, uses music to help push through with their bodies. “I have the mind of a dancer and think about moving, dancers think about their moves, and people with Parkinson’s disease have to think about this and tell their muscles and bodies to move in certain ways,” Lust explained.

The newest program is for seniors who want to age in place. “They want to remain in their homes as long as they’re physically able. We have a support group and a social group that meets once a week at Meals on Wheels in Nanuet.”

They taught a class about learning and the human brain and how to keep it active, emphasizes the benefits of people remaining active as they age. The Rockland County Community Village project came out of the Learning Collaborative after the class on maximizing one’s brain.

Look for the group’s new Facebook page in coming months.

Have an idea for Unsung Heroes? Send it to editor@rocklandcountytimes.com

 
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