March is Brain Injury Awareness Month!

During the month of March, we attended several conferences. One was held by the TBI quality support team of the University of Virginia, entitled “Traumatic Brain Injury and aging”. Prof. Paul Diamond, Director of Neurorehabilitation, gave an interesting talk with much discussion and a reception at the end. We were able to have a able and display information about Building a Bridge.

Prior to that, we went to Richmond to a conference for brain injury survivors, caregivers, and professionals, an event held by the Brain injury Association of Virginia. The title was “Opening Doors: New Answers for a New Era”. It was a very interesting day with the opportunity to meet other organizations and to hear excellent talks ranging from dating and relationships Following TBI to Brain Injury 101.

We also had the chance to meet the Keynote Speaker Brett Leake, a motivational comedian. It was the most amazing keynote speech we have ever heard, and tears of laughter were mixing with tears from being touched by his stories.

Since then we have been in contact with him, shared a lunch a a great concert here in Charlottesville. We all hope to see much more of him.

New staff!

The Bridge has a new resident counselor, Maggie Witt. She joined us in February and is currently living with our Ridgewind residents.

Maggie met Heinz first in the ’70s when she volunteered at Innisfree for a year. Now she is back in town.
Great to have you Maggie, welcome to The Bridge!

The show is over!

Hard to believe that the month of February is already over. During that month, many of the residents have shared their work with the Greater Community of Charlottesville. The McGuffey Art Center had decided that their art is certainly worth showing (we of course knew that for a long time!).

The reception in the beginning of February, the First Friday of the month, was a great success and so many of our friends and families joined us that evening. Everyone had a great and exciting time; all the artists are very proud of what they have created.

But none of that could have ever happened without Patricia, our wonderful art therapist, who is working with our residents for over 20 years . She has an amazing eye and feel for the talents within Building a Bridge. Thanks so much Patricia for all your work.

What’s next? New york, Paris, Rome…. Well, let’s start with Richmond. Maybe we can exhibit there sometimes.

Please see the photos of the reception night.

Building a Bridge at McGuffey!

After having a couple of art shows last year, the artists are getting ready to exhibit their work at the McGuffey Art Center. Everyone is very excited about this show and to connect with other artists in Charlottesville.

The reception is on the First Friday of the month, the 6th of February 2009 between 5 and 7.30 pm. All pieces will hang throughout the month of February. McGuffey Art Center is located 201 Second Street, NW in Charlottesville.
We are looking forward seeing you again or for the first time.
Here is our flyer:

Art show invitation

More parties!

In December, we celebrated Kevin’s and Zack’s birthday (we will not mention their age!). Heinz baked (or bought) a delicious hazelnut creme cake which we all shared. It was a nice afternoon were we all got together at the Park Street house after art class.

Happy Birthday Kevin and Zack! Photos can be found on our photo page.

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.