Angela’s June 2017 Letter

Dear Friends,

As we wrap up another 10 months with weekly F.B.I. nights, I want to share what I have learned through facilitating and creating the weekly curriculum. The theme for 2016: New Life New You and for 2017: Happy People…(fill in the blank.) Listed below are some of the things I’ve learned:

Angela Mandas, MA CCC-SLP

1. Donations are requested each week to cover the food that is purchased. It is suggested that you donate $1.00. Some weeks I am consumed into the program and never ask for donations. That is when I realize that people remember our format and remind me about the “red box.” Thank goodness for structure and memory.

2. Inactivity is dangerous for everyone. We need exercise for our heart and for the mind. After a brain injury, it is hard to move around. However, asking people to stretch your arms and legs is necessary for range of motion, circulation, flexibility and more. As someone once said, going outside is free so we need to enjoy this membership to our outdoor gym more often.

3. Eating right. We changed our weekly food choices at F.B.I. to healthier items such as sliced turkey, cheese, carrots and celery. I learned that people may complain that the cookies and cake are missing but they adapt. We all adapt to eating healthier.

4. Listening can be achieved through being respectful of the speaker. It is very difficult for people who suffered a brain injury to coordinate breath support and speech. Our community at F.B.I. listens intently when someone speaks with effort. It is heartwarming and encouraging for the speaker to know they are heard.

5. Having a positive attitude makes life easier. When folks complain about how hard their life is at F.B.I. they are reminded that others have it harder with greater physical needs or cognitive deficits.

6. Goal setting is something I teach in September and again in January. We all need to set a plan into action. Settling for “this is the best it is going to get” permits a lack of drive to think out of the box. Major changes are decided when the community is asked to title their life story; from “a new life for me” to “watch me.”

7. Everyone can laugh regardless of their injury. We enjoy comedy, people acting goofy and having fun. Letting go of a negative thought and participating in laughter IS THE BEST MEDICINE.

8. Playing is forgotten after a brain injury. Where do you go to learn to play again with your disability as an adult? There are many programs for children but adults need to play too. The weekly curriculum is created with opportunities for play; from taste testing blindfolded to playing charades.

9. Hope is on display on Tuesday nights. Hope for a better tomorrow, hope in finding a cure, hope for finding a job – either volunteer or employed. When our friends with a brain injury return from attending graduate school or from getting their driver’s license, it inspires the community to know that one day it could be them.

10. Love. There is an abundance of love on Tuesday nights. Sometimes I am just exhausted from a long day treating clients but when I walk into F.B.I., I am loved. Our friends are there to greet us and we feel welcomed with smiles and hugs. I know this is where I am supposed to be. This is my heart service.

In closing, I thank you for being supportive of this wonderful non-profit. I am grateful for being a member of the leadership team. I know where I want to spend my Tuesday nights in the Fall but in the meantime, I will enjoy my time off in July and August but know that I will begin to prepare for a new theme and develop new curriculum.

Until then,

Angela Mandas, CCC-SLP
Speech Language Pathologist
F.B.I. Group Facilitator