Christmas Party at the Belmont house!

In the middle of December, we had a Christmas party at the Belmont house. It was not only a nice occasion to get together with friends and families, but also to invite members of the Traumatic Brain Injury Support Group from Charlottesville. This group was founded in spring of ’08 by John Kampman (the elf in the photos) and Carol Ragland. Residents and staff of Building a Bridge participate regularly in the monthly meetings and decided to have a joined holiday celebration, kindly hosted by the Bel’s.

We had great food, enjoyed the caroling and were surprised by many gifts from Santa Claus. All in all a fun afternoon.

Please go to the photo site to view some of the pictures taken.

New staff at the Belmont house!

The “Bel’s” have new housemates:
Eric (below on the right) is a new residential counselor and started to work with Building a Bridge in November ’08. He lives in the Belmont house with Joan, Kevin and Scott and is an excellent support and wonderful new friend to them.

And there is River, Eric’s son who brings a lot of fun into the house and sometimes stirs up the grown-up world.

Welcome Eric and RIver to Building a Bridge. Please read more about Eric in our staff section.

The Need

It can happen to anyone and out of nowhere: an out-of-control car, a slippery sidewalk, an accident on the playing field. It takes but an instant for a persona’s whole world to be turned inside out by brain injury.

According to the Brain Injury Association of America an estimated 5.3 million Americans currently live with disabilities resulting from traumatic brain injury about 250,000 in Virginia, and 5,455 adults in the Thomas Jefferson Health district. Every year, 1.4 million Americans sustain a traumatic brain injury of different severity, which is one injury every 23 seconds. These numbers include women and men injured while serving in the US Armed Forces.

The brain-injury survivor can go from being an independent, successful adult with responsibilities as a parent or provider to someone totally dependent on the very same people he used to support. Personality, relationships, cognitive skills, and mobility may all be affected. The unique challenge that arises from neurological trauma lies in the sudden and unforeseen changes to one’s identity and circumstance. Survivors are different than they used to be and they know it.

Community-based alternatives have long been a priority for institutional programs in mental health, intellectual disAbilities, substance abuse, justice, aging, and convalescence. Persons with brain injuries however are still on the periphery of the aforementioned services. The astronomical costs for care, the toll on the lives of the families, be it emotional or financial, surmounts all expectations. Past the acute care lies uncertainty, and, most of all, the quickly realized need for long-term care. Nursing homes, psychiatric hospitals, and group homes are, if available and affordable, an option, but often fall short of a life that can be lived with happiness and dignity. The survivors need programs that address their distinct cognitive, behavioral, and emotional needs. We are proud that The Bridge Line is recognized as a model for residential community living and for vocational training for people with brain injuries.

Building a Bridge received an early Christmas gift!

At the end of October, we received two brand new garage doors for our Lexington house as a generous donation.

Here is the story: The Lexington house garage had very old and very heavy wooden doors. One of them had already fallen down and broke; the other one was mostly left open to make sure that opening and closing would not cause this door to crash also. After requesting several estimates and meeting with the professionals, we received a wonderful letter from

Apple Door of Waynesboro, Inc.

and Haas Doors

These two companies offered to donate doors and labor for installation. We were so excited, it came so unexpected. It is very touching that there are companies who understand the needs of non-profit organizations and are happy to help.

Please see below the “before” and “after” pics, and the crew at work.

A big Thank You to Apple Doors Waynesboro, Inc. and Haas Doors from all of us at Building a Bridge.

National Disability Employment Awareness Month!

The Library of Congress celebrates October 2008 National Disability Employment Awareness Month by recognizing the contributions of Americans with disabilities to our society and workforce.

The Library of Congress…
US Department of Veterans Affairs…
The White House…

In observance of this month, the JAG School in Charlottesville is holding a Disability Awareness Fair on Friday the 31st of October.

They invited several organizations:

Lakeview Neurocare, Worksource Enterprises/Breadworks, Department of Veterans’ Affairs – Coming Home to Work Program, National Military Family Association, Arc of the Piedmont, Building a Bridge, Fort Lee Army Community Service (Soldier and Family Assistance Center/EFMP), Military OneSource/Wounded Warrior and Indepencence Fund.

This will be a great opportunity for us to introduce Building a Bridge and to meet other organizations with similar interests. Heinz Kramp, David Smethurst, and Daniela Ghaida will represent Building a Bridge.

New membership!

We are happy to announce that Building a Bridge is now member of the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce. Its Non-Profit Council represents and focuses upon the needs and interests of the Chamber’s vibrant non-profit community organizations; a series of workshops is aimed at the needs of non-profit staff and Board members.

This membership will aid us to network within the Community of Charlottesville and to promote our organization.