Support groups are key in helping those who are affected by a chronic health issue on a daily basis. These groups allow people who live with a chronic health issue or those who care for someone with a chronic health issue to meet and spend time with others who share the same needs and experiences they do. Groups also provide opportunities for both support and education.
Dollars raised in the annual campaign that are directed to Community Health Charities of Nebraska’s (CHC-NE) 22 member agencies are used to make sure these groups are available across the state for those affected by chronic disease, including Nikki Finch.
When Nikki was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2002, it was recommended that she attend a support group, which she did, but at 17, she decided it wasn’t for her. But after she married her husband, he encouraged her to try again, and from there, both became more involved with the National MS Society, Mid America Chapter (NMSS), one of the 22 CHC-NE member charities. Nikki’s husband is in charge of the Walk MS for the area, and Nikki co-facilitates the support group with Dixie Zoucha, which meets on the First Tuesday of each month (March-November) at 7:00 p.m. at St. Leo’s Church, 2410 S. Blaine St., Grand Island, NE 68801.
MS is becoming a more widely known illness, Nikki said, and she encourages those who have been diagnosed with MS and haven’t attended a support group meeting to try it, as it makes a difference. “We need each other. We encourage, support and rally around our members. We fight for you and help you fight for yourself.”
In addition to organizing the support groups, NMSS in Grand Island hosted a picnic in July and a wellness day in October, which featured topics such as fraud protection and cryotherapy. But the support group, Nikki said, is so much like a family, and her support group stepped up to care for her and her family when Nikki was put on bedrest when she was pregnant with twins. “The group organized a surprise baby shower for me that we held over skype and it really brightened my day. Support groups really are amazing.”
NMSS offers nine Connection Groups across Nebraska for people to be involved in right now and are always looking to seed more. For more information, visit their web site. Other CHC-NE member charities that provide support groups include: The ALS Association Mid-America Chapter, Alzheimer’s Association Nebraska Chapter, American Lung Association in Nebraska, Brain Injury Alliance of Nebraska, Crohn's & Colitis Foundation, Nebraska/Iowa Chapter, JDRF International - Heartland Chapter, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society – Nebraska Chapter, Muscular Dystrophy Association of Nebraska, Nebraska AIDS Project, Nebraska Chapter of the National Hemophilia Foundation and United Cerebral Palsy of Nebraska.