October 15, 2009, Kitchener, Ontario
Posted by: Robert Deutschmann, Personal Injury Lawyer
The Waterloo Region Record had a profile on the Brain Injury Association of Waterloo/Wellington. The organization provides an invaluable service to our community. The symptoms of brain injury can be devastating, even with a mild brain injury. The BIA WW through the Opportunity Centre provides great programs that offer those suffering with Brain Injury an opportunity to participate in the community in a very caring and nurturing environment. It is a wonderful organization and one that truly deserves the financial support of our community. Check out their website for more information and if you are able, please donate to their organizaiton - www.biaww.com
Brain injured clients find friendship and support in United Way supported agency
October 15, 2009
WATerloo regiion Record
For victims of acquired brain injury, having a drop-in centre of their own, a place where they can make friends and enjoy their lives has made a tremendous difference, said Patti Lehman, executive director of the Brain Injury Association of Waterloo/Wellington.
“Social services (programs) are used to a lot of rules but this program is purely social, purely peer driven,” explained Lehman from her Kitchener office. “They come here and people are not watching over them, evaluating them.”
The organization’s Opportunity Centre on King St. W., provides a place where clients can meet, have a hot lunch, learn new skills, such as tai chi, and crafts. They even have a daily poker game, a valuable activity to improve cognitive functions, she said. A few members have also formed a band, rehearsing weekly and performing locally.
Programs are developed and run by the members and they watch out for each other, teaching social skills, something that is often affected by brain injury. “If they do something inappropriate, the group will tell them,” she said.
The Opportunity Centre serves 20 to 45 clients a day, their 200-strong membership equally split between males and females in their 20s to late 40s. Sixty-five per cent suffered a brain injury as a result of a motor vehicle crash while the balance either had a stroke or aneurysm. Several were once professionals, including an executive chef and an OPP officer injured on the job.
Lehman pointed out; many of their clients live on very limited income and look forward to the free programs and hot lunches. “Some only have six or eight dollars a day for food,” she said. “We make enough that they can take some home for their evening meal.”
While the organization focuses on its brain injured clients, their mandate also includes supporting caregivers of those with acquired brain injury, and providing free bicycle helmets for children of families in need.
This lean organization operates on a $150,000 budget, $20,000 of which is funded by United Way of Kitchener Waterloo. An additional $20,000 in funding was withdrawn from United Way of Cambridge and North Dumfries earlier this year as that agency anticipated shortfalls due to the recent economic downturn. Lehman described the lost funding as a “total shock.”
She now spends much of her time trying to make up the shortfall through fundraising and she had to cancel the bus that brought clients from Cambridge as well as cancel satellite programs in that city, though everyone is welcome to attend the Kitchener programs. “I don’t turn anybody away,” she said.
For those with brain injuries, the world can be an isolating place but through the Opportunity Centre Lehman said clients have much to look forward to when they pour through the doors every morning.
“It’s all recreational but informally it’s absolutely therapeutic,” she said