August Volunteer of the Month
Rosemary Mogish became involved with the ALS Association when her husband, Michael, was diagnosed with ALS in 2010. Together, they went to see Dr. Simmons, the director of the Neuromuscular Program and ALS Center at Hershey Medical Center, as well as Dr. Mackin in Allentown, PA, closer to their home. Dr. Simmons connected the couple with the ALS Association Greater Philadelphia Chapter. As her husband’s primary caregiver, Rosemary greatly appreciated the help and support the Chapter was able to provide. They worked with Mary Beth Tomczak who helped Mike get a cane, manual wheelchair, wheelchair ramp, and power wheelchair in order to recover some of his lost mobility and to help Rosemary with transportation. As the disease progressed, Rosemary and Michael moved in with their daughter, Jessica, and her husband.
In 2013, Jessica announced that she was expecting a baby boy, and the news thrilled the prospective grandparents. Michael passed away in December 2013, two months before the birth of his grandson, Blaize Michael.
Rosemary was left with a desire to help others afflicted with the terrible disease that took the life of her husband. She reconnected with the ALS Greater Philadelphia Chapter and Mary Beth asked her about volunteering. Rosemary decided to become a visiting volunteer for people with ALS, but she struggled to cope with the memories of her husband’s suffering. “It was tough in the beginning. I didn’t know how I would feel,” recalled Rosemary. She decided that she couldn’t handle working with men, and instead began to meet with a woman in Hazleton, PA and then Karen, a woman in Hometown, PA. She still found it difficult in the beginning, but it became easier knowing that she was providing help and comfort. Karen is unable to move, but has retained her ability to speak. Rosemary joked, “We’re both talkers,” explaining that she and Karen visit a couple of times each week to chat. They both enjoy the other’s company, and Karen also values Rosemary as a knowledgeable resource. Karen asks questions about ALS and being a caregiver for a loved one, and Rosemary is able to answer her compassionately, drawing from her own personal experience with the disease.
Volunteering has been a very rewarding experience for Rosemary. She wants to continue to help people with ALS for as long as she can. Beyond offering companionship to Karen, Rosemary has attended several Walks to Defeat ALS in Hershey, Allentown, and elsewhere in the Northeast. She loves to encourage others to find ways to help. There are many different ways to volunteer, and each volunteer can make a huge difference in the lives of people with ALS. Many volunteers devote their time to fundraising and advocacy, but providing companionship to people with ALS makes a difference in their day to day lives. Recalling her time caring for Mike, Rosemary said, “We took one day at a time. Now, I’m taking one day at a time in a different way.”