November 10 , VFJ on CPTV
Power of Giving
A New Milford woman dedicates her life to helping those who cannot communicate due to ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. By supplying computers and software, she has single-handedly helped hundreds of people to regain their voices, and maintain their independence.
NEW MILFORD: The gift of voice
Ask Shirley Fredlund why what she does is important, and she’ll give you a simple task. Sit still for 10 minutes. Don’t move a muscle, not even to scratch an itch. Don’t speak. Don’t smile. Don’t laugh.
Don’t snap your fingers to get the attention of the people all around you, carrying on as if you don’t exist. But you can blink your eyes. That is all a person with advanced amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease, can do.
"After a while, it starts to hit home," said Fredlund of her silent-still exercise. "If a person can’t talk, people ignore them."
Building hope in the blink of an eye
Shirley Fredlund didn’t recognize her longtime friend Joanie Margaitis, at least not this way.
Sure, it was the same old Joanie from New Milford High all those years ago, when Shirley and Joanie shared stories and giggles and squeals about boys.
"I called her my ‘Ivory Soap’ friend," Fredlund said. "She had a pure heart. She was just the sweetest, nicest gal."