Annual lecture series shows its resilience with Chris Waddell |

Annual lecture series shows its resilience with Chris Waddell

U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame Paralympian Chris Waddell will give this year s community lecture presented by Jewish Family Services, the People s Health Clinic and the Christian Center of Park City, at the Jim Santy Auditorium on March 30. (Courtesy of Jewish Family Services)

Five years ago Jewish Family Services kicked off its community lecture series in the Salt Lake Valley.

The goal was to promote the nonprofit’s mission to strengthen individuals and families of all backgrounds through counseling, advocacy, care management and community education.

In 2012, Jewish Family Services decided to expand the lectures to Park City, according to Executive Director Ellen Silver.

Silver spoke with Nann Worel, executive director of the People’s Health Clinic (which provides medical care to the underinsured) and with Rob Harter, executive director for the Christian Center of Park City, to see what could be one.

"Since we have an office at the People’s Health Clinic, we thought it would be a great fit," Silver said during a joint Park Record interview with Worel. "Our three organizations have worked together and co-sponsored this educational program for our community."

Past lecture topics have included nutrition, presented by Dr. Mark Harmon, and heroin addiction, which was illustrated with a special screening of the documentary "Dying in Vein."

This year’s topic is resilience and the speaker will be U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame Paralympian Chris Waddell, author of the book "Things That I Want to Remember Not to Forget."

The event will be held at the Park City Library’s Jim Santy Auditorium, 1255 Park Ave., on Wednesday, March 30, at 6:30 p.m.

"We picked the theme of resilience, because there is a lot going on in the world and there is a continuum of resilience because of that," Silver said. "This topic is so relevant to the different areas of our lives.

"Once the topic was decided, we asked ourselves who represents resilience and Chris Waddell’s name came up," Silver said. "He was right on board right away, because he is devoted to this community."

Waddell’s presentation will be based on his Middlebury College commencement speech that landed him on NPR’s list of "Greatest Commencement Speeches Ever."

"He’s a great motivational speaker," Silver said. "He’s really a warm human being and he gets it, and we’re excited that he agreed to participate."

In an email, Harter said he was also looking forward to Waddell’s presentation.

"You don’t want to miss hearing Chris’ message," Harter wrote. "He exemplifies resilience through his life and he does so with a smile on his face. You will leave inspired."

In addition to Waddell’s speech, the event will include displays and representatives from an array of organizations that deal with resilience, according to Silver.

Some of those organizations include the National Ability Center and the Summit County Health Department as well as the Christian Center of Park City, People’s Health Clinic and Jewish Family Services.

"Part of the motivation is figuring out what we can offer to the community that is connected to what we do," Silver said. "We want people to have the right information in this day of mass communication and social media. And while this is the largest topic we have covered so far, I feel it’s probably the one that touches more people."

Worel said these lectures are a natural fit for the three nonprofits.

"We serve very much the same clientele and we work together all year long, so it seemed logical for us to come together," she said. "This year, it’s even more so because resilience is a huge issue with our own patients.

"I’ve done some studies to figure out how one person can bounce back and another will struggle and may not always succeed in rebounding when they have setbacks in life," Worel said. "This is a fascinating topic for me."

In the past four years, Worel has seen increasing interest in the lecture series.

"People are asking us who and when the next speaker will be," she said. "We still get feedback from the past events, and I think it’s because these lectures and events makes the issue real for those who attend.

"A lot of people like to think we live in this little bubble and that we don’t have all the issues that are experience in the big city, but, indeed, we do," Worel said. "This is a way to shed light on issues that we maybe don’t think about or see every day."

Shortly after the Park City lecture, Jewish Family Services will host two more lectures at the McGillis School in Salt Lake City.

The first will be on April 6 and will address coping with chronic pain. The second will be on May 4 and about transitions in aging, Silver said.

"These lectures have been well attended and I find them interesting and relevant with the times," she said.

The People’s Health Clinic, Jewish Family Services and the Christian Center of Park City will present U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame Paralympian Chris Waddell at the Park City Library’s Jim Santy Auditorium, 1255 Park Ave., on Wednesday, March 30, at 6:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. Donations will be accepted. For more information, visit

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