Spain Rehab honors Women’s Committee for philanthropy

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The Women’s Committee of the Spain Rehabilitation Center was formed 42 years ago with a mission to improve quality of life for patients, and it didn’t take them long to get started.

(From left) Women’s Committee of Spain Rehabilitation members Jean Morris, Coquette Barnes and Sheila Shugerman stand next to an art piece given as a gift to the group by Spain Rehab.

Whether it was purchasing equipment, increasing public awareness of the center through charitable and promotional activities or procuring donated art pieces to display throughout the facility, the Women’s Committee long has been a strong advocate for the hospital devoted to the physically disabled.

Recently the employees of Spain Rehab decided to give a gift to the committee — a beautifully designed art piece titled “Lasting Impression,” a ceramic sculptural mural by local artist Scott Bennett and Chris Gryder of North Carolina.

“It’s just a beautiful piece and a wonderful gesture by Spain Rehabilitation Center,” says Coquette Barnes, president of the Women’s Committee and a 20-plus year member of the group. “I’m very pleased and honored that Spain would remember us in such a wonderful way.

Yvonne Akins, executive administrator of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, says the Women’s Committee has been a vital part of the center’s success.

“They have given us an opportunity to do more for our patients,” Akins says. “They have spent more than 40 years giving a little extra that makes a big difference in the lives of people. They’re a wonderful, giving group of ladies that really has our patients’ well-being at heart.”

The Women’s Committee has provided numerous gifts to the facility through the years, in addition to more than 60 pieces of art.

It purchased a tilt table for the physical therapy department in 1976, raised money to build a therapeutic pool in 1986, purchased a Cybex Machine for exercise in 1982, purchased a wheelchair seating pressure monitor system in 1994, funded a handicap accessible locker room and co-ed facilities for the therapeutic pool in 2006, donated The Spirit of Spain Rehabilitation Center patient portrait gallery in 2007, provided the revolutionary Locomotor Training Equipment in 2008 and raised $1 million to endow a chair ... just to name a few.

“We have provided many equipment needs for the hospital through the years, and we’re very proud of that,” says Jean Morris, a Women’s Committee member since 1971.

Many of the Women’s Committee members began supporting Spain Rehab despite the fact that neither they nor members of their families never had needed rehabilitation care. Some of the women have had to use their services in the years since, however, including Morris and Sheila Shugerman.

Morris was involved in a serious automobile accident several years ago and broke her neck. She also had a television fall off of a wall onto her knee.

“Every day when I leave home, I don’t wonder if I’m going to return home with cancer or heart disease or something like that,” Morris says. “But I always know something could happen to me, and I could end up in Spain Rehab because of an accident. I’ve been a patient twice, and I got lots of attention. I’m fortunate to have seen the hospital from both sides.”

Shugerman, whose first husband John Miller was a physician in Spain Rehab, has been a patient in the center for her knees and received outpatient care for Achilles tendons and other issues. “I got involved through John. After he died, I continued to maintain my interest because I think this facility and the people who work here are just fabulous,” Shugerman says.

It’s not uncommon for patients to receive gifts on holidays from the committee, but the workers in Spain Rehab don’t go unnoticed by the group. Every year during National Rehabilitation Week, the group provides a small gift to every employee in the center. “They certainly appreciate the hard work of our staff,” Akins says.

The Women’s Committee continues to host an annual fundraiser that routinely raises between $50,000 to $70,000 for Spain Rehab. Their next goal is to raise enough money to purchase a van to transport patients on group outings and for them to learn to transfer from wheelchairs into a vehicle. “We enjoy being a part of a vital organization like Spain Rehab,” Shugerman says.

For more information on the Spain Wallace Women’s Committee, call Yvonne Akins at 934-3450.