Tom is so loved by our family and by hundreds of Greenwood School students.
For all of you who know us, and all who revere our work in founding The Greenwood School : My Tom has Parkinson's and a slow growing cancer. We do not have funds to cover costs of his care or to provide therapy to help him to maintain his physical strength. Tom is on Medicaid and in a Medicaid funded bed in a nursing home. The costs of his care have devastated us financially. Please help and please share this effort.
My husband Tom Scheidler and I are co-founders of The Greenwood School of Putney Vermont. We met when I was 19 and he was 28. It was truly love at first sight. We married in 1968.
Tom and I wanted our lives to have meaning. Wanted to do something to impact youth and make the world better for children. We saw a need: We dedicated our lives to creating a school program that would teach to the strengths of boys who were failing academically in mainstream schools.
You may know of our school through having seen "The Address". A moving documentary about our annual Gettysburg Address Contest was filmed by Ken Burns and aired on PBS. http://kenburns.com/films/address/
(With our two young sons in tow, Tom and I founded Greenwood in 1978. )
Most of our Greenwood students had been failing in school due to attention issues (often caused by boredom!), high physical energy , or dyslexia.
Tom and I believed passionately in our mission to show a different side of our students and to prove that they were normal, had skills and aptitudes that simply were not tapped in mainstream schools where they were quite literally "fish out of water". We gave them a curriculum, challenges, structure and...wings! (Ah yes, fish can fly!)
Our many graduates are out in the world in every imaginable career from teaching, broadcasting, filmmaking, cooking, sports, medicine, law, military, mechanics, high finance, fine crafts, the arts and well, the list goes on. We put them onstage and so many have stepped into the lights! We are so proud.
Could we be prouder still? Yes. We also trained and sent into the world many amazing teachers.
Today, we believe just as much in our ground-breaking work that empowers visual /auditory/hands-on learners, as we did when we began to design a program for these gifted students back in 1974.
We retired from Greenwood due to Tom's cancer diagnosis in 1999. Tom was later diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease in 2002. We continued to lecture and to teach when we could. Without retirement funds from our years of building a school, we were barely managing when a medication error and a fall in 2015 put Tom in rehabilitation for 100 days and then in a Medicaid funded bed at a nursing home.
Medicaid funded quarters in nursing homes are tight and spare. Tom often gets stuck in his chair in the small space. Days are long. Tom has no room to for activity, and if family is not present he has no activity. Boredom, lack of intellectual stimulation and physical exercise further deteriorates his health, sense of self, and wellbeing.
(The T-shirt reads "Those who don't read have little advantage over those who can't." -Mark Twain. )
Tom and I creatively managed to keep him at our home on Putney Mountain in Vermont for more than ten years. Today, although I am strong, I am unable to safely care for all Tom's needs, to lift his 6 foot frame any longer. Tom loves life, but he needs specialized nursing care.
Now on state aid for Tom's care, there is little left to live on and no funds for the special diet, intellectual stimulation and rigorous exercise Parkinson's maintenance requires. While meeting necessary obligations, in trying to provide essential Parkinson's care, we have gone into debt for Tom's medical needs.
I have made Tom's tiny corner as home-like, functional and attractive as I can, but so often this is how I find him, physically caught between the bed and curtain with nothing to do. And there is still much he wants to do. Tom works so hard to keep his mind strong in this limited environment.
Substitute staff members who do not know better often talk down to Tom, judging his mental acuity by his Parkinson's affect. Or they may move him physically without giving him time to respond. These situations are hard on him... Yet Tom retains his hope and his humor and there are CNA's and visitors who even now credit Tom with having shared knowledge and wisdom that has given them insights for their lives.
Tom is a fighter and his mind is keen, but the limitations of his living situation deteriorate him. Like so many nursing homes that accept Medicaid patients, the facility lacks funding for needed staff and there is high turn over. Caregivers and nurses have hands-on time with residents stretched to the maximum. Things are missed. Under Medicaid, many residents share the attentions of so few staff. Despite our whole family's involvement in his care, Tom has had week-long hospitalizations this year where dehydration was a factor in the trip to the ER.
My deep love can not recoup medical expenses and provide Tom the environment and exercise he regularly needs for care of his Parkinson's.
Maybe through gofundme my years of love, commitment, support, creative caregiving and respect for Tom can move others who know our work and dedication to help us now by giving financial support because they want to let Tom know that it is his turn now to be on the receiving end. May it be so. My gratitude to you all for thinking of us at this difficult time.
Your donations gratefully added to the newly formed Tom and Andrea Scheidler Friendship Trust.
- Alfredo Tofanelli
- Patricia Scheidler Barnhorst
- Marie Esselborn
- Deanna Wachsmuth
- Fred & Sue Morris
Organizer and beneficiary
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