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Jean Griswold: a modern success story. (faces).

Jean Griswold was diagnosed in 1965, the "dark ages" of MS, more than 30 years before the FDA approved most of the disease-modifying drugs. In the 60s, people newly diagnosed were routinely told that there was nothing they--or anyone else--could do.

The wife of a pastor, mother of three growing boys, and a recent college graduate with a degree in business and economics, Jean's first move was to hit the pavement in search of meaningful work. She wasn't going to let MS stop her. Unfortunately, prospective employers of the time weren't so enlightened. She was repeatedly denied work because she had been diagnosed with MS.

After a bit of soul-searching, Jean took another approach. "If I can't find a job," she said to herself, "I'll create one." At her kitchen table, Jean began to develop her own business, an employment agency that would provide health-care services for the elderly, the disabled, and children with special needs.

Easier said than done. Jean's MS worsened. And the business took off--a bit too quickly for the apparent comfort of her residential neighborhood. So many people were now visiting the office she'd set up in her home, that the township finally issued a "cease and desist business" order. But Jean found a quick solution--a commercially zoned building with an apartment upstairs right in the neighborhood.

In 1982, now comfortably in her new digs, Jean founded Griswold Special Care, first to help older adults in her Erdenheim, Pennsylvania, community remain independent in their own homes. As Griswold Special Care grew, Jean expanded its services to include people of any age with chronic illnesses as well as people recovering from surgery or short-term illnesses. Griswold Special Care provided carefully screened personal caregivers who assist with cooking, housekeeping, shopping, and errands.

Twenty years later, Griswold Special Care employs more than 7,500 caregivers, and boasts more than 70 offices in 11 states up and down the eastern seaboard, from Florida to Massachusetts, as well as offices in Michigan, Korea, and Mexico. Jean and her business have been profiled in Forbes, Entrepreneur, Success, and on NBC's Today show.

But entrepreneurial success is only part of the picture. Since 1970, Jean has been closely involved with the National MS Society, acting as a spokesperson, fundraiser, and volunteer. In 1990 she founded the Special Care Foundation for those in the Greater Delaware Valley Chapter area (Philadelphia and environs) who are in need of home care but who cannot afford the service. In 2001 Jean provided a sizeable grant to help fund the chapter's Wellness and Education Center.

"The Wellness Center has enabled us to provide daily wellness and educational programming for our members, something we were previously unable to do," Judith Cohen, Greater Delaware Valley Chapter president, said. "It's made a huge difference in their lives and in the connections members make with each other and the community."

This November, the National MS Society formally recognized everything Jean Griswold has given the MS community over the years by presenting her with the 2002 MS National Achievement Award.

"Some days are filled with victories, others with struggle," Jean said. "Special Care has become my arms and legs for reaching out with loving care to so many in need. And knowing that more than 50,000 clients have been helped and that thousands of professional caregivers have found good work through Special Care has made all the effort and sacrifice worth it. MS means you can manage. You can even manage the impossible. It just takes us longer."
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Publication:Inside MS
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2003
Previous Article:The Chronic Illness Workbook.
Next Article:New Society award stimulates collaboration among researchers. (National MS Society).

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