American Stroke Association of Rochester Celebrates Sharegivers Graduation

American Stroke Association of Rochester Celebrates Sharegivers Graduation Tomorrow

Proving life after stroke can be meaningful, productive, and independent


Wednesday, September 23, 2015 (Rochester, N.Y.) – – The American Heart Association, in partnership with Nazareth College and a collective group of hospitals in Rochester, will host the Stroke Sharegivers Graduation and Celebration, Thursday, September 24th from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Nazareth College’s Wellness and Rehabilitation Institute’s Lobby, 4245 East Avenue, Rochester, N.Y. The event celebrates an extraordinary group of Stroke Survivors and Caregivers who have completed the American Stroke Associations Sharegiver Program. Sharegivers visit newly recovering stroke survivors and their families at their hospital bedside and talk about their own road to recovery after a brain attack.

“When I had my stroke 14-years ago there wasn’t a support group like Sharegivers,” Rob Wasserman, Sharegiver volunteer, said. “I have come a long way from not knowing who I was after my stroke, to being able to drive and now being a mentor. Volunteering began as good therapy for me as much as it is for the stroke patients we visit,” Wasserman said.

“Sharegivers offers stroke patients the best possible proof that life after stroke can be meaningful, productive and independent,” says Roseanne Hemmitt, Director of Quality Improvement for the American Heart Association in Western New York. “It takes a special person to have the determination and courage to move forward, share their personal story and help others.” Hemmitt oversees day to day operations of the Sharegivers program. Volunteers have weeks of training before giving back to the community.

Hemmitt has been personally affected by stroke. She cared for her mother after she had a stroke, and Hemmitt’s grandson had two strokes, just hours after he was born.

“The Nazareth Speech-Language Pathology Program is happy to partner with the American Heart Association on this initiative,” Lisa Durant-Jones, Ed. D, professor of Speech-Pathology at Nazareth College, said. “This collaboration is consistent with the mission and vision of the College, which includes dedication to inspiring service to the community.”

Twenty candidates graduated from the Rochester Sharegivers program this summer. They will begin visiting patients this fall at various local hospitals including Rochester General Hospital, Strong Memorial Hospital, Unity Hospital, F.F. Thompson Hospital and Newark Wayne Hospital.

“Sharegivers grow in confidence and have a sense of accomplishment in this program,” said Deborah Insalaco, PhD, CCC-SLP, associate professor in the Department of Speech-Language Pathology at SUNY Buffalo State. Dr. Insalaco has worked with the American Stroke Association Sharegivers program since 2003.

“When previous stroke patients volunteer to become a Sharegiver, it is because a visitor gave them hope and encouragement when they were angry, worried or sadder than they had ever been. This is when you know stroke survivors and caregivers benefit,” Dr. Insalaco said.

Experts say signs of stroke include:

* Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body

* Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding

* Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes

* Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination

* Sudden severe headache with no known cause

Learn and share the warning signs of stroke. Remember the acronym FAST, and what these letters mean. By doing this, you and anyone can become a Stroke Hero, so that stroke victims can rely on you in case of a stroke emergency.

  1. (Face drooping)
  2. (Arm Weakness)
  3. (Speech Difficulty)
  4. (Time to Call 911)

If you experience any of these signs, call 911. Experts say you should also check the time, so you’ll known when the first symptoms appeared. Drugs administered within the first three hours of symptoms can reduce long-term disability for the most common type of stroke, according to the American Heart Association.

Attendees are encouraged to bring a friend or family member to help celebrate. For more information on the Sharegivers program, contact Roseanne Hemmitt at 716- 243-4608 or


#                      #                      #


About the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association

The American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association are devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – the two leading causes of death in the world. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The American Heart Association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. The American Stroke Association is a division of the American Heart Association. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-585-371-3112, visit or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.


Life is why we fund scientific breakthroughs that save and improve lives.


Leave a Comment