The MS Dream Center of RI – From A Dream…To A Reality

The MS Dream Center of Rhode Island has accomplished turning the dream of co-founders Marie Perna and Joseph O’Reilly into a reality.  In 2009 they started a conversation, and Marie shared her dream of having a place where people with MS, their caretakers, friends and family could come together to enjoy a greater quality of life; and so the concept of the Dream Center materialized.

In March of 2010, Joe and Marie, along with Marie’s husband, Don, coordinated a meeting of approximately 100 people with MS, as well as several local professionals. It was there that they began to shape and develop the dream.

Today, the Dream Center is a place where people with MS, their partners, family and friends can enjoy fellowship, discuss their disease, share their feelings, and enjoy programs geared toward wellness and other issues at hand.

MS is a neuro-muscular disease, affecting the brain and spinal chord, that affects over 350,000 people nationally and over 2,000 in people Rhode Island. Two thirds are known to be women. Onset usually occurs in people in their early thirties, although even children as young as six years old have been known to be diagnosed.

In large part, the MS Dream Center’s effectiveness stems from “people helping people.” Since September of 2010, ongoing programs provided by those with MS, as well as their care partners, have enabled  members to engage in purposeful activities on Mondays and Wednesdays from 9AM to 3PM at the Pastore Youth Center in Cranston.

It has been exciting to see the Center provide so many diverse services to those individuals taking part. The average daily attendance hovers between 25 and 30. Those with MS who contribute on a regular basis have headed a book club, run a bible study, performed Reiki, conducted sharing sessions, held a craft club, offered an art club, shared their nursing talents, run the Wii, provided photography classes and conducted a “sunshine club”.

Quarterly newsletters, updates to the Dream Center website, and informational flyers keep the local community informed of what is going on at the Center.

Unselfish sharing is the benchmark of our success thus far.  The dream continues on!

Thanks to a recently acquired Bank of America grant, transportation to and from the Center is provided through the Ride Program, part of RIPTA.

We are equally grateful to the City of Cranston, Mayor Fung and the YMCA of Cranston for allowing us to use the facility on Gansett Avenue in Cranston.

The MS Dream Center is proud to announce the re-launch of Accessible Rhode Island, in partnership with the Rhode Island Department of Health. The information on this new website includes accessibility of well over 500 Rhode Island restaurants, entertainment venues, museums, galleries, libraries, parks, walking trails, hotels, B&Bs, etc.

This comprehensive guide to accessibility offers a significant opportunity to reach the 250,000 people in RI, as well as out-of-state visitors requiring accessibility. It can be accessed through links on the Providence/Warwick and Newport Convention & Visitors Bureaus.

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Avatar About the Author: The Rhode Island Small Business Journal is a printed monthly magazine and an online resource for the aspiring and start-up entrepreneur and small business owner.

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