by Joanna Hess
April. Images of Spring, daffodils blooming, the sense of renewal. It is also National Donate Life Month. Established in 2003, this designated month commemorates those who have received or continue to wait for lifesaving transplants.
The New York Organ Donor Network (NYODN) celebrates this April with increased outreach efforts in hospitals, schools, and Motor Vehicle Agencies. While NYODN works year round to educate New York residents about the critical need for more organ and tissue donors, each April, these efforts are enhanced during National Donate Life Month. National Donate Life Month was instituted by Donate Life America and its partnering organizations in 2003 with the support of then Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tommy Thompson.
Across the United States, Donate Life Month features local, regional and national activities to help encourage Americans to register as organ, eye and tissue donors and to celebrate those that have saved lives through the gift of donation. Show your support by wearing the colors of the organization and celebrate National Blue & Green Day on Friday, April 19th.
In my experience speaking to people at public events, despite our efforts to raise awareness about being a donor, the number of people in need of transplants continues to rise. This month serves not only to honor the lives of those who have given and received, but it’s also an opportunity to educate the public about the lifesaving effects of donation and transplantation, and an opportunity to dispel the myths.
Nationally, more than 115,000 women, men, and children wait for a life-saving transplant—nearly 10,000 of them are New Yorkers (for specific numbers visit unos.org). For many, tragically, the gift will never be received. Nearly 6,000 people die a year – about 15 per day – awaiting the gift of life. Yet, every 2½ hours a person is added to NY State Donor Registry.
As of March 1, 2013, only 21% of eligible New Yorkers (age 18 and older) were enrolled in the New York State Donor Registry, compared to the national state average of 44.5%. New York State ranks near the bottom of the list on number of total enrollments.
Transplantation is one of the most remarkable success stories in the history of medicine. Transplantation gives hope to thousands of people with organ failure and provides many others with active and renewed lives. Out of tragedy, much good can be done for another human being waiting for a life-saving organ or tissue transplant. One person can save up to eight lives with organ donation. A tissue donor adds upwards of 50 additional lives – especially for burn victims.
New York residents can add their names to the organ donor registry when applying for or renewing their driver’s license at the Department of Motor Vehicles. There is a box to check off to say “yes” to being an organ donor. It will be filed with the NYS Department of Health and you will have a small red heart on your new license. This simple action while renewing your driver’s license could some day save someone’s life.
For me, my transplant is a “rebirth” to a healthy life. What better way to help one another than pledging to be an organ donor. I have been given 8 additional years to enjoy life and I thank my anonymous donor daily. My hope is that by bringing more awareness to the desperate need for organ donors through Donate Life Month, we can increase participation in the organ donor database and help the thousands more on the waiting list.
To learn more about NYDON Donate Life’s month-long activities, please visit www.SaveLivesNewYork.org.
About the Dutchess County NYODN Chapter:
Jon Nansen, Dutchess County Team Leader:
Jon’s energy toward the effort to enroll people in Dutchess County to be organ donors is endless. Heart issues run in his family, and his kidneys crashed in 2005 from high blood pressure. He had end stage renal failure, and needed to start dialysis.
After several years, his mentor Elaine Ling at Dutchess Dialysis Center in Poughkeepsie firmly told him that it was time to seriously consider transplantation, or face the loss of his kidney, or even his life.
Jon was on the waiting list for three years before getting that all-important phone call. “I was in dialysis when I heard my cell phone ringing. It was in my pocket, but I was all hooked up with hoses and tubes. When I answered the phone I heard, ‘You feel lucky today? Come on up, we have a match for you.’ This was in July, 2008.”
Jon strongly encourages people on dialysis to go through testing to be approved for their transplant. It can take seven months to be approved for the list, and that’s when the clock begins. “Get to a nephrologist, don’t mess with your kidneys,” Jon adds.
Jon is active throughout Dutchess County. He initiated DMV drives in Poughkeepsie and at Adams Fairacre Farms. He speaks at college health fairs, the Poughkeepsie Plaza, and Naturalization Ceremonies.
Barb Adams, co-owner of Adams Fairacre Farm:
The importance of organ, tissue and eye donation came to the forefront of awareness at Adams Fairacre Farms last year, when owner Pat Adams received a heart transplant. One year later, Adams is healthy and active as ever. He and his wife, Barb, as well as many others at Adams, are committed to helping spread the word about the need for donors.
Barb enrolled the Dutchess County group in the recent Campaign4Life, a friendly competition between the 10 counties in NYODN’s district. The intent was to increase the number of designated organ, eye and tissue donors through registration. Surprisingly, the Dutchess County group won with more than 100 new registrations.
“We are proud of our efforts. The $1000 prize will be used to help our education campaign with the purchase of a flat screen TV showing interviews and updated information for the various health fairs we attend, especially the Dutchess County Fair,” Barb explained.
Barb also created a Facebook page for the local group, and continues to write a blog describing local activities and recent news about transplantation. To learn more, ‘like’ Donate Life of Dutchess County on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/DonateLifeOfDutchessCounty
Joanna Hess inherited Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) from her father, who inherited it from his father. She focuses much of her volunteer time educating people about organ donation. Her transplant occurred in February 2005, which she considers her “2nd birthday,” giving her the opportunity to help and support others in similar situations. She considers each day a blessing and encourages others to keep an open mind and an open heart.
by Chelsea Streifeneder
Here we are almost in the New Year. There’s nothing like a couple of weeks of holiday over indulgences to convince us that it’s time to turn over a new leaf and become better, fitter, and slimmer. So each year on January 1st, we resolve to give up drinking or chocolate, adopt a diet, exercise seven days a week, and be in bed by ten every night. But within a week or two we’re stumbling back into our old habits! It’s amazing how three little words-New Years resolution-can conjure up so much emotion in people. So for 2013, why not make a resolution that you will love for years to come? Try Pilates!
Focusing on the body’s core, Pilates is an overall conditioning routine that helps build flexibility, strength, and endurance in the legs, abdominals, arms, hips, and back. It also improves balance and coordination, making you more graceful. As an added bonus, the breathing techniques help relieve stress. How many other resolutions can do all that?
I like to consider fitness and health a life-long endeavor. Think of fitness and health as a way to survive the stresses of life as well as look younger and feel more alive. There are some very basic tools that Joseph Pilates used in his technique for life-long health. Joseph Pilates did not consider Pilates to be just another form of exercise, he considered Pilates to be a way of life. He believed that through Pilates you could achieve your highest potential physically, mentally, and emotionally. A strong body representing a strong mind, a stronger mind creating a stronger body…all of this transferring into ultimate happiness and a better world to live in. (Pilates, J. (1945). Return to Life Through Contrology).
Pilates is a lifestyle that any person, young or old, weak or strong can incorporate into his or her life. The benefits of doing Pilates are life changing. Pilates promises more than a toned physique, it is a mind-set, a more positive outlook on the body, and an overall lifestyle change. It trains the brain to focus on each movement and muscle, a concentration that later translates into everyday relationships and work. Precision, mind control, and posture are just a few of these benefits. In particular, the breath synchronization techniques used in Pilates slow us down and makes us much more aware of the present moment. This is where the real lifestyle change happens-commitment to each moment in class as another opportunity to better ourselves and the bodies we’ve been given. After spending a day at the office, this concentration allows us to slow down and re-organize our priorities-whether toward your husband’s birthday, making time for your daughter’s school play, or allowing yourself a night free of distractions.
I recently asked my clients how Pilates has improved their quality of life. Their answers were similar in that they all felt stronger, taller, had more energy, no more pain, and couldn’t wait until their next session. I always warn clients when they start that Pilates can be addicting!
As an instructor I can tell you, when done correctly, the movements result in strength, flexibility, coordination, improved posture and more efficient movement. Pilates was developed to improve performance of the physical activities we love and to prevent injury. I appreciate Pilates as a mindful activity in which we shut off our minds and explore our bodies. I appreciate the relaxation/stress reduction benefits, the improvements in mental focus, concentration, memory, and creativity.
Joseph Pilates is known to have said, “I’m 50 years ahead of my time,” and, “Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness.” He was right on both accounts. He would be astounded to see what his method of exercise has become, and he would likely be thrilled and surprised to see how well Pilates has been accepted and all of the lives and lifestyle changes that have been made through Pilates! So as we rapidly approach 2013, why not make all your friends, family, and loved ones jealous by not only getting the body and mind Pilates can give you, but also actually committing to your New Years resolution? Don’t let another year pass you by.
Chelsea Streifeneder is the owner of Body Be Well Pilates studios in Red Hook and Catskill. To learn more visit http://www.bodybewellpilates.com.
by Laurie Rich, Director, Spectrum Services Foundation
April is a special month for so many families and organizations around the world, the country, and right here in the Hudson Valley. April is Autism Awareness Month.
The event that begins the month is global: Each year since 2007 – when the United Nations General Assembly, in response to a call from its members, designated April 2nd as World Autism Awareness Day – autism organizations around the world hold celebrations and awareness-building events and fundraisers to focus public attention on the growing global prevalence of autism.
It’s very important work: Tens of millions of people in every part of the world are affected by autism, in all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups. The number of those whose families, friends, co-workers and other community members’ lives are touched by autism is an unknown multiple of those figures.
In the United States, the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) conservatively estimates that an average of 1 in 110 children in the United States have an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). And that number is reported to be still on the rise.
According to the CDC, boys are four times more likely to have an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) than girls. To date, despite ongoing and increased research for answers about the causes of autism, no one knows why this is so. Autism’s causes remain so puzzling and unclear, that the icon used by groups across the globe to depict Autism is a puzzle piece.
Of course, for those of us who work in or for the agencies and organizations that help people with Autism Spectrum Disorders, raising public awareness is a daily part of what it is that we do. Here in the Hudson Valley, there are a number of groups whose mission is to bring attention to and raise money for autism, from research, to education, to early intervention, and more.
I head the Spectrum Services Foundation, the fundraising arm for the Center for Spectrum Services, one of the premier organizations in the Hudson Valley that helps students and people of all ages who have ASDs. Since 1976, the Center for Spectrum Services has assumed a leadership role in New York State. Our administrative staff members have been appointed to State committees to formulate policies and have
co-authored State guidelines that have become a national model for the evaluation and education of students with ASDs.
Each year, Spectrum Services serves approximately 270 individuals enrolled in our schools and through our clinic. Since our founding in 1976, our school program has had a cumulative enrollment of over 3,500 students with autism. We have worked with 54 school districts spanning 14 counties, and we have provided training to more than 4,000 education professionals and families.
Since 2011 marks Spectrum Services’ 35th anniversary, we are celebrating and raising awareness about autism not only in April, but all year long. On March 12th, we held a ski and race for autism day at Belleayre Mountain; on Sunday, April 10th, we’re participating as we do every year in the Walk and Expo for Autism at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds (information is below); and, at 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 7th, to celebrate Spectrum Services’ 35th anniversary, we are hosting a classical music gala benefit concert at the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College. With Bard’s generous support and hosting of our event, and the underwriting of a number of companies, including Covanta, Ulster Savings Bank, WMHT, WAMC, HouseSetters Home Staging Services, Rotavele Elevator, Inc., and WKZE, we hope to spread autism awareness across the airwaves throughout and beyond the Hudson Valley, and raise much-needed funds to help support Spectrum Services’ programs, facilities and to purchase state-of-the-art playground equipment specially adapted for children with disabilities. And other events will follow all year long.
Raising public awareness about autism, one event at a time is what the Center for Spectrum Services’ events and those of the other autism-related entities in our area are each designed to accomplish. This April, I hope each person reading this article will take the time to learn more about Autism Spectrum Disorders (you can start by accessing the web sites listed below), share your knowledge with others, and reach out in any way that you feel you can to support children and adults with ASDs, and their families. It will brighten your life, and theirs.
Learn More About Autism, and Autism Awareness Month
Useful Web Links:
Centers for Disease Control: http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/facts.html
Center for Spectrum Services: http://www.centerforspectrumservices.org
Hudson Valley Autism Resource Center: http://www.autismresourcecenter.info
Global Autism Awareness Day: http://www.worldautismawarenessday.org
Autism Speaks http://www.autismspeaks.org
National Autism Awareness Month: http://www.autism-society.org/about-us/national-autism-awareness-month/
Autism Awareness Month in the Hudson Valley: Autism Society Hudson Valley Chapter: http://www.autism-society.org/chapter512
4/3: Mid-Hudson Road Runners Club: 5K Road Race/Walk for Autism: Hustle for the Puzzle, Thomas Bull Memorial Park Boat House, Montgomery, NY. Benefits the Autism Spectrum Fund and special events to raise awareness, understanding and acceptance of Autism Spectrum Disorders. http://www.mhrrc.org
4/4, 2:15-3 p.m.: free Screening of The Asperger’s Difference, a film for and about young people with Asperger Syndrome. Followed by Q&A with film maker Jamey Wolff, co-founder of Center for Spectrum Services. Dominican College, Casey Hall/Palisades Room, 470 Western Highway, Orangeburg, NY. http://www.centerforspectrumservices.org
4/10, 9a.m.-1 p.m.: Autism Walk & Expo of the Hudson Valley, Dutchess County Fairgrounds, Route 9, Rhinebeck, NY. http://www.autismwalkhv.org/
4/30, 2-8 p.m. & 5/1, noon-4 p.m.: “The Eye of Autism,” an exhibit of photographs by students with autism from Center for Spectrum Services. Kingston Museum of Contemporary Art, 103 Abeel Street, Kingston, NY 12401
5/7, 7 p.m.: Save the Date for Artists for Autism, Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College. A benefit concert featuring world-renowned musicians celebrating the Center for Spectrum Services’ 35th Anniversary. http://fishercenter.bard.edu; http://www.centerforspectrumservices.org
by Charlotte Michos
When you join a gym, you join a gym. There are machines and classes and you follow an instructor’s routine. But if you really want your needs and desires met, shouldn’t the instructor be following you? Has anyone recorded (or do they even know) your medical history? Do you feel motivated? How many people pay for a gym membership and rarely use it? Does anyone notice if you are not there?
When people register with Ageless and Moving™, they join a “program.” As a clinical nurse specialist, I direct the program with a health-oriented approach to fitness. The registration process includes identification of medical history, fitness goals and individual needs. The process allows for personal attention and a customized program design. But a focal point is simplicity and fun – being able to simply “do it” and not struggle with every move, as if it were something foreign. People are encouraged to move at their own pace, and stop a movement if it doesn’t feel right. In a non-threatening way, I help people develop their own style of moving.
For one fee, there are the following options:
• A choice of 76 classes/month: tai chi, qigong, Pilates, “More Than Stretch™”, free weights, low-impact aerobics, and aqua aerobics. Most classes are held three times per week. In addition to my classes, Christine Riedinger, program associate, leads such classes as aqua aerobics and low-impact aerobics;
• Access to the gym facilities (including the swimming pool & sauna);
• Monthly wellness sessions on various health topics;
• Guest instructors who teach classes such as meditation, self-defense, swim lessons, yoga and more;
• Individual fitness guidance, as well as health advice and referrals;
• Health literature and community notices;
• Nutritional coaching (when enrolled with our Isagenix® system); and
• Social times.
Drawing upon my experience and credentials in both health and fitness, I offer multiple routines because choice is important. We will stay motivated if we feel good and do the things that we like to do. My flagship routine is called “More Than Stretch™”, which is also available on DVD and distributed throughout the U.S., Canada, and England. This popular class combines the best of stretching and strengthening, balance, posture, back maintenance, tai chi, yoga, and Pilates; it also incorporates relaxation techniques into the routine. As summarized by a veteran Ageless and Moving™ member: “This is a great practice that restores health and energy, and also helps with regaining emotional balance.” Many members have participated in the program for 5-15 years, and as a result there is a great support system in place. The socialization and camaraderie is an added bonus. They are obviously “hooked” on a good thing and most importantly, doing well.
The culmination of my experience and work with older adults, which began with my Master’s thesis on Aging Adults and Physical Activity, has resulted in a unique approach to physical activity and good health. The philosophy: “My work focuses on preventative health and knowing that a key to life is movement. We should find joy in that movement.”
Classes are held at the Stevenson Gymnasium at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson.
Charlotte Michos, MSN, RN, CNS, CLNC® may be reached by calling (845) 758–8522 or by email: email@example.com. To learn more, visit www.agelessandmoving.com
by Jen Kiaba
As a life-long dancer, Body Be Well owner Chelsea Streifeneder knows the importance of being in-tune with one’s body. Raised in the Hudson Valley, she began dancing at a very young age and received her B.A. from Bard College in both dance and writing. Through the rigors that her training placed on her body, she found herself developing back and hip pain. During time spent in Prague studying dance she was introduced to Pilates and found it to be a life-changing experience that helped heal her body.
After graduating from Bard, Streifeneder moved out to Los Angeles where she completed the Pilates Teacher Training Program through the Pilates Sports Center. Now certified as both Pilates Teacher and Master Trainer, Streifeneder’s Pilates studio Body Be Well and its associated Women’s Gym are bringing the Pilates Method and its varied benefits to the Hudson Valley. Located in Red Hook just north of the center of the Village, Body Be Well offers Pilates courses designed for all levels, as well as Yoga and ZUMBA classes.
Streifeneder admits that there are times when beginners can be intimated by the seemingly complex machines that are a part of Pilates training. Lining the wall of her serene studio are apparatuses that are not always recognizable in the cache of gym equipment. While encouraging those new to Pilates to begin their exploration with Mat Classes designed to introduce the movements and breath control associated with Pilates practice, Streifeneder also helps foster interest in advancing towards working with the various machines that are integral to Pilates.
The Pilates Method was developed by Joseph Pilates in the 1920s and is an approach to health and fitness that integrates both the mind and body, as well as the spirit. His guiding philosophy was that in order to achieve optimal health, the body must be exercised in its entirety. By combining the breathing and meditation training of yoga with the balancing and weight-bearing elements of Tai Chi, the Pilates’ method was born.
With specifically designed equipment and floor exercises, Pilates focuses on strengthening the core as well as improving posture, alignment and stamina. By focusing on exercises centered on balance, control, breath and fluid movements, practitioners develop both an increased strength and flexibility, as well as more attuned coordination and spatial awareness. Using the equipment designed by Joseph Pilates encourages uniform development of the muscles in the body; therefore muscle bulk is not created in the body because weaker muscles are built up instead of movement solely relying on those muscles that are already strong. By focusing on the abdominal, back and gluteal muscles first, the body becomes aligned and muscles elongated.
Streifeneder suggests Pilates for people with a wide-range of fitness backgrounds who are looking for a new exercise method. Those who have sustained injuries, especially to the back or joints, can also find potential relief from Pilates by building muscles to help support the injured areas. Pre and post-natal women can also benefit from the training; and women from across the spectrum can enjoy Body Be Well’s gym designed specifically with women in mind.
Those interested in trying Pilates can enjoy a 30-minute free trial class during the Body Be Well’s upcoming Open House on January 15th 2011. From 10 a.m. until 3 p.m, Body Be Well will be hosting various Yoga, ZUMBA and Pilates classes. There will also be a free day pass available for the women’s gym, as well as complimentary chair massages to ease away some of the holiday-shopping stress. The event will be catered by Gigi Hudson Valley, and the first 50 attendees will also receive a gift bag as a “thank you” for attending.
For more information call Streifeneder at (845) 758-0790. or email firstname.lastname@example.org. More information on the Body Be Well Studio, class schedule and associated Gym can be found at www.bodybewell.org.
Jen Kiaba is a freelance writer and portrait photographer based in Rhinebeck, NY. Her work can be found at www.jenkiabaphotography.com.
by Laurie Rich, Director, Spectrum Services Foundation
Over the past year, you have gotten to know me as the sustainability professional who runs the Green Initiative at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds, who put together the Hudson Valley 40th Anniversary Earth Day Celebration, and who writes articles for this wonderful magazine.
I am still that person, but my focus has changed. Let me reintroduce myself: Hello. I am Laurie Rich, and I am proud to be the Director of the Spectrum Services Foundation, the non-profit fundraising arm of the Center for Spectrum Services, a private, not-for-profit program designed especially for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders including Asperger Syndrome (a high functioning form of autism).
This is a dream job for me, for many reasons, most of which are deeply personal. I’ll share two of them: I have a grandniece who has Asperger’s; and, the son of a dear friend is severely affected by autism. Autism has touched my life, as it has so many of yours.
Here’s the other reason: Using my skills to help children who need assistance makes my day. And the little ones who attend the Center for Spectrum Services’ schools particularly touch my heart. They are challenged, they try so hard, and they are around me all day long. It is wonderful to work for a cause when my inspiration literally is where I work, every day, all around me.
The Center for Spectrum Services (formerly The Children’s Annex) isn’t a new organization. It has been in existence for 35 years and has served a cumulative enrollment of nearly 3,500 students with Autism Spectrum Disorders, and trained more than 4,000 professionals and families across the state, and the nation. Through our education programs, we have helped children and families from 55 school districts in 14 counties.
I am intensely grateful that this opportunity to serve is now mine. As the Director of the Spectrum Services Foundation, I am a woman with a mission: Raise over $250,000 to support the Center for Spectrum Services’ programs and expand our facilities over the next 14 months.
You Can Help.
I’m a fundraiser. It’s my calling, not just my job. I have the privilege of bringing in money to support the expansion of this incredible organization. Throughout the Center for Spectrum Disorders’ 35th Anniversary year, we’ll be holding a number of events to celebrate that milestone, and to raise much-needed funds to: complete the new wing of our Kingston facility; a complete playground renovation that will provide state-of-the-art adaptive play equipment for our students; and, to establish an endowment that will help us weather further cuts in state and federal funding that might jeopardize our programs.
You can help.
Make a donation, small or large, online or by “snail mail.” To donate online, visit spectrumservices.org and click on the green, Just Give.org button on the left-hand side of our home page. We also welcome you to contact us by phone if you have any questions, would like to discuss our programs or are interested in receiving printed materials (845.336.2616 ext. 165).
Ski for Autism.
On March 12, 2011, Belleayre Mountain ski resort is hosting a Ski for Autism day and downhill race. Buy one (or more) of the 200, $25 tickets. All proceeds from the sale go to benefit the Center for Spectrum Services and you get to ski for less than half price all day!
We have a number of other wonderful 35th anniversary events in the offing. So, watch future issues of the Hudson Valley Mercantile for Save-the-Date notices about what’s coming.
With Gratitude: From the Founders
Each autumn, we look forward to welcoming new and returning students, families and staff to our schools. This year, we did so with special excitement: It is our 35th Anniversary year.
Over the past three-and-a-half decades, our staff expanded from two to nearly 150 and from only two students to more than 270 individuals reached annually….from a single classroom to campuses in Kingston and Ellenville, New York, with a new wing underway….from a small local agency to a leader in the field operating not only our day school programs, but also the Spectrum Services Clinic, the Spectrum Services Foundation, and producing our own documentary film, The Asperger’s Difference.
To say we are proud of what the Center for Spectrum Services has achieved would be true, but what we also feel is a deep sense of gratitude. There have been many who have stood by us throughout the years and allowed us to take the seeds of ideas and help develop them to maturity. We are thankful to our committed staff, to our engaged families, to our driven Board members, to our unfailingly generous donors and community.
But most of all we are grateful to our students. To the many children who have come through our doors faced with challenges that most struggle to even imagine and leave here with the ability to communicate their needs and desires, to make emotional connections with family and friends, or to successfully enter a mainstream community school. It is these students, who we have watched progress, year in and year out for 35 years, to whom we owe the greatest debt of gratitude. The perseverance, curiosity, and joy they share with us gives us the motivation to keep dreaming big.
Susan Buckler, Administrative Director
Jamey Wolff, Program Director
by Jim Gibbons
A recent press release from Northern Dutchess Hospital about plans to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the hospital’s Neugarten Family Birth Center has me reminiscing about the day my daughter was born at the center seven years ago this month. I’ve been transported to memories of both my children’s births and the joy and inspiration they have provided over the years. Shortly after Riley’s arrival on March 15, 2003, I wrote the following observations in a column – updated for this publication.
For most of my life I thought that newborn babies looked more like Winston Churchill or Lou Gossett, Jr. than their parents or any family member from their tree. For years, I visited family and friends as they rolled out their latest additions to their respective broods, and would stand confused – often dumbfounded – as someone in the party would invariably assert, “Oh, she looks just like…” one parent or the other. I just never saw it. Even my own nieces and nephews were Mr. Clean-looking miniatures from where I was standing.
I love kids as much as the next person, and I have always enjoyed the halo effect on a home graced by an infant arrival. But it wasn’t until the birth of my first child, Wyatt, that I was able to see anything in a newborn other than a small replica of a bald aging man. I distinctly remember when Wyatt was born, though, being left breathless with a wave of images of grandparents and parents, brothers and sisters, and indeed many of those nieces and nephews. I was overwhelmed by something inexplicably familiar: the upper lip; the Gibbons upper lip. And those eyes – shaped like my wife’s; hands and feet: scale models of those belonging to my father-in-law.
Less than two years later came Riley Anne – she with my perpetually furrowed brow, and my round brown eyes; the Gibbons lip and Papa Marty’s hands. I remember showing Riley’s and Wyatt’s birth announcements to anyone who made eye contact. I made no apologies about this. And going on seven years since last having birth announcements to share, I remain unrepentant for the way I indulged myself when my kids were born. As it was then, it remains to this day, I am tickled whenever anyone notes our family resemblances.
These days I find myself routinely looking for the similarities between parents and their new arrivals. Fatherhood brought with it a more refined eye – greater perspective. That’s the thing about your own children. Upon arrival, they enable you to discard past notions and misconceptions. They at once empower you to be self-absorbed in a way you have never been before; to see yourself and your loved ones in a totally different light – a new but familiar light assuring you that you are continuing something started generations ago.
Your own children call you to pay closer attention to their detail when they arrive and every day thereafter. At any moment, at a certain angle or in the flickering of a light, they transport you to the birthplaces of parents and grandparents; to the oft-forgotten days of sibling rivalries and camaraderie; and to those moments previously lost on you when meeting your nieces and nephews for the first time.
A discerning look or a crooked smile on the faces of your own children will remind you of the strong and creative souls of loved ones cut down too soon, and reveal the full promise of those souls regenerated in your time here. Your own children assure you, without saying or doing anything, that they are the legacy of grandparents whose proud, smiling eyes, and strong, gentle spirits will carry them through their days.
Northern Dutchess Hospital Mothers’ Club will hold a Silver Anniversary Dinner on Saturday, April 10th starting at 6 p.m. at the Beekman Arms in Rhinebeck. The event is part of the year-long celebration of the Neugarten Family Birth Center’s 25th Anniversary. George Verrilli, MD, will be honored. The program will also include a special salute to the Neugarten Family Birth Center nurses and staff, who are an integral part of the 5-star HealthGrades rating earned for Maternity Care for the third year in a row.
The Center is undergoing more upgrades and offers special touches such as gourmet meal and complimentary massage for new moms. Close to 800 babies are born each year at Northern Dutchess Hospital. For more information visit www.health-quest.org/NDH.