LIMA — After being the victim of a bicycle accident that nearly killed her, Sandy Monfort has stepped down from her job overseeing a community facility that treats non-violent criminals, typically those with drug addictions.
Monfort’s departure from running the Western Ohio Regional Treatment and Habilitation Center which she served as executive director for more than nine years is viewed as a huge loss because of her passion and dedication to the people the center serves.
“To be director of that facility is a great responsibility, and I’ve never taken that lightly,” she said. “I can’t return to a position that my doctors are telling me” not to do.
The 55-year-old Monfort was nearly killed June 29 while riding her bicycle in Michigan. She was training for a triathlon when a driver struck her from behind. She suffered broken bones and injuries to her brain, she said.
While she’s been through a lot since the accident, she said she feels fortunate to be alive and was very happy to see 2011.
Members of the board that oversees the WORTH Center waited for Monfort to recover because she hopeful she could return about now. A series of tests last month showed she was unable, she said.
The center has started the process of looking for a new director and is accepting applications. The WORTH Center works with non-violent felony offenders who often have a drug addiction and likely committed a crime connected to their addiction.
Steve Diller, the chairman of the board that oversees the center, said they hope to have a new director in the near future but no deadline has been set. The board has notified the state prison system, which the center is a part of, to extend the search statewide.
Mimi Zarzar, the clinical director at the center, is serving as the interim director until a new director is named, Diller said.
Diller praised Monfort for her dedication and performance.
“It’s going to be a very difficult process for us because Sandy was so committed to it. She had worked in it for so many years and was good. It will be large shoes to fill,” Diller said.
Meanwhile, Monfort continues to heal and has another battery of tests in the summer to chart her progress, she said.
“The brain heals at its own pace, and all I can do is the best I can,” she said.
Monfort said she continues to work toward recovery. Doctors were uncertain she would walk again. She proved that notion wrong. In fact, she has set a goal of walking a half marathon and dreams of someday walking a marathon, a distance of 26.2 miles.
While the accident changed her life in many ways, Monfort has remained upbeat. She has enjoyed the new perspective on life, even while she has had to relearn things like how to drive.
“It’s just those things we take for granted,” she said.
Monfort’s dedication to helping people in the community through her job and through volunteer efforts is well known. She was a local 2008 Jefferson Award winner. She is perhaps best known for donating a kidney to a coworker.
“(The accident) didn’t stop my motivation or my interest in helping people improve their lives,” she said. “I still think I have a lot to give, and I still plan to do that. I’m just not at a point where I can go out and do that.”