Former Mexico Town Manager Joe Derouche and his wife, Cathy, are receiving support from River Valley residents to get a van with a lift to take him to medical appointments in his motorized wheelchair. Marianne Hutchinson/Rumford Falls Times

MEXICO — Former Town Manager Joe Derouche and his wife, Cathy, along with some community members are trying to secure a van with a lift to take him to medical appointments and elsewhere in his motorized wheelchair.

Derouche, 59, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2002 and within a year he had to use a wheelchair to move about.

To get to doctors’ appointments, his wife drives him in vehicles borrowed from family members and others, requiring a fold-up wheelchair instead of his motorized one. Their van with a lift rusted out two years ago.

“This (power chair) is what he should use as opposed to the fold-up one in the living room because of all the back surgeries and fusions and because of the MS,” Cathy said, “so he can tilt back and it’s definitely more comfortable. It’s got all of the things he needs for his progression (of worsening symptoms).”

Doris Bourret of Rumford, who provides Holy Communion to Derouche and other homebound members as a Eucharistic minister for Holy Savior Parish, said she decided to bring his need to the community’s attention. She enlisted Rumford Falls Times’ columnist Mitzi Sequoia, who wrote about the need.

Bourret said she has also spoken with Mexico Town Manager Jack Gaudet.

Derouche said he’d like to serve the community by using his skills learned in municipal government, including as town manager, Planning Board member and Budget Committee member.

“I couldn’t go to an eight-hour-a-day job,” he said. “I couldn’t go to maybe even two hours a day, but there’s a lot of things (that I could do). The goal was I was going to go through (vocational rehabilitation) and look at retraining for a new job or a new adventure or whatever, you know. And again, because we don’t have a vehicle, I can’t do any of those things.”


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