Clukey: support from community 'a humbling experience'
Camden — Camden native Alan Clukey, while dealing with multiple personal issues, suffered a mental health emergency that left him unable to run his painting business and provide for his family. A benefit supper organized by friends and family took place Aug. 25 at the American Legion Hall to help defray some of the unexpected medical cost.
Clukey was a dispatcher for Camden Police Department for 31 years, until the town decided to change over to regional 911 communications in 2007. Since, he has owned and operated a painting business. On July 30, he suffered a nervous breakdown that required inpatient care, but through a supportive wife, family and friends he said he is well on his way to recovery.
“It is a humbling experience to go through something like this,” Clukey said. “I have always been the one that people came to for help, so for me, asking for help was extremely hard to do.”
Coming from a generation where asking for help was considered a sign of weakness, Clukey said he now understands he had to ask for help to be able regain a normal life.
“I am no good to anybody if I can’t get myself well first,” he said. “I have come to realize that I do have friends and family that do care about me and the outpouring of support today proves just that. I am blessed, truly blessed.”
Many friends and family attended the event including his friend and former dispatch partner Diane Moody, who has been referred to as his "sister from another mother."
“I am so glad to see him looking good and enjoying seeing all of his friends that support him through this,” she said. “This is a wonderful turnout but I’m not surprised because he is such a great guy.”
Clukey’s wife Dera said she knows how much seeing friends and family meant to her husband.
“Overwhelming,” Dera Clukey said in reaction to the turnout. “I feel so blessed to know that we have such a great support system and that Alan can see how many people care about him. We feel so grateful for the people who stepped up that love and care and want the best for us, it feels really good.”
The Clukeys said they realize people have hectic schedules and for them to take time out to come show their support was in a word — “amazing.”
Besides a buffet-style dinner of traditional comfort food, silent auction items, a 50/50 raffle and door prizes; Maine-based Edgar Award nominated author Al Lamanda was on hand to autograph and auction hard cover editions of his John Bekker series.
Clukey’s friend Michael Farmer played the role of auctioneer for the evening and kept the people in attendance laughing, which in turn, kept a smile on the Clukey family faces.
A prepared statement from Clukey was read to the audience by Farmer, thanking everyone for their support and stating how much it meant for Clukey to know he has a ton of support and he is not going through this ordeal alone.
Clukey said he feels like he should be working to take care of his family, but knows that it important to take some time and “smell the roses” to ensure he has the time to get better and be able to provide for his family.
“I have always worked and I don’t like not being able to support my family, but I have to take the time to get better,” he said. “My wife said so.”
Dwight Collins is a reporter/photographer for The Camden Herald.
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