Newsletter – June 2011

New BRAIN Logo
We are Growing and Growing!



Dear Friends,


It’s that time again for me to report what B.R.A.I.N. and F.B.I. has been up to for the month of June. Well, we have lots to share and our Founder, Sue Rueb will explain later in the newsletter what she has been working on.


As for me, I am learning so much about family support and the need for a strong community through the deaths of our friends, Nancy Martin and Hank Zavaleta. These families have endured such heartbreak but they are slowly moving on because of the network of friends they have met over the years. We too, have grown as we have shared our experiences and also ourselves in the process. We have learned that it is better to give than to receive, we have learned that you have to risk before you gain something important, and so much more.


This month we reached out to five families in need of support, organizing a training workshop to help these families bring their brain-injured loved ones home to live and to rehabilitate. These families all have witnessed catastrophic events that have greatly affected their daughters, sons, brothers, and wives. On June 18th we hosted a FREE workshop to these 5 families. We covered topics such as how to organize your home to accommodate a hospital bed, how to provide therapy, how to make life normal for everyone around, how to communicate effectively, and how to set up a team of volunteers to support you. It was powerful and energetic.  Special thanks goes out to Debbie Edwards for sharing her story of rehabilitating her husband and son, both sustaining head injuries three years apart. Thanks to Maggie Quintas for sharing her daughter’s story and the trials and tribulations of recovery. Thanks also is extended to Guy Martin for sharing his story of ten years of caregiving for his wife, Nancy, who suffered numerous strokes. His story brought a tear to our eyes. He lost his wife a month ago and would go back in a minute and do it all over again.


It was exhilarating and strength building.  We all left feeling better and feeling supported.


In closing, “It is one of the beautiful compensations of life, that no man can sincerely help another without helping himself.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Angela Mandas, MA CCC

Speech Language Pathologist

F.B.I. Group Facilitator


Update from the Founder, Susan Rueb


Sue Photo (Flowers)


I am pleased to announce a formal affiliation with  Bennet Omalu M.D., the co-founder of BIRI (Brain Injury Research Institute). The Brain Injury Research Institute is a center for the study of traumatic brain injuries and prevention.  Their research is cutting edge and we are honored to work with Dr. Omalu.  Dr. Omalu became the first doctor to identify physical evidence of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a neurological disorder associated with repeated head trauma.  Dr. Omalu is the Chief Medical Examiner in San Joaquin County in Northern California. This is one of his many important medical  roles.   We are excited to call Dr. Bennet Omalu a true collaborator with B.R.A.I.N.


Steve Spernak, the policy advisor for the 4th District Supervisor’s office of Shawn Nelson has come along side of B.R.A.I.N. with his interest, contacts and many opportunities to help spread the word about brain injury.  Steve allowed B.R.A.I.N. to share a table at the Orange County Veterans Mental Health Conference as an exhibitor for two days in March.  At the conference, I met USMC Sergeant Major James Schickel Ret. who is the Local Interagency Network Coordinator for CA Department of Veterans Affairs for 5 counties in California.  In June, he invited me to take part in his collaborative meeting in LA to highlight brain injury among our veterans.  Next month, I am speaking at the monthly meeting and showing our B.R.A.I.N. dvd.  Thanks so much Sergeant Major Schickel.


B.R.A.I.N. will be in the spotlight at the Long Beach Lions Club in July.  Each new opportunity to speak helps to spread the positive impact of B.R.A.I.N. in our community and beyond.
We have enjoyed weekly FBI (Friends of Brain Injury) meetings since last October.  I thank all who have participated in making the meetings interesting, helpful and fun.  July and August will have four activities, culminating with our annual BBQ on August 20th at El Dorado Park in Long Beach (2800 N. Studebaker Road.) Stop by anytime between 12pm and 4pm and enjoy some good Old Fashioned fun with us and be a part of a special surprise presentation at 2 p.m.!  There will be more information to follow as plans unfold for the summer. 

It is a pleasure to be a part of this great organization.  Thank you all.


The True Meaning of Stress

by Unknown Author

A young lady confidently walked around the room while leading and explaining stress management to an audience: With a raised glass of water, everyone knew she was going to ask the ultimate question, “half full or half empty”. She fooled them all – “How heavy is this glass of water?” she inquired with a smile. Answers called out ranged from 8 ounces to 20 ounces.
She replied, “the absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, that is not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you will have to call an ambulance. In each case, it’s the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.” She continued, “And that’s the way it is with stress. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won’t be able to carry on.”
As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again. When we’re refreshed, we can carry on the burden-holding stress longer and better each time practiced. So, as early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down. Don’t carry them through the evening and into the night.
Pick them up tomorrow. Whatever burdens you are carrying now, let them down for a moment. Relax; pick them up later after you have rested.

Being a  Brain Cells Connector
by Maverick Zamora


Thank you, Angela, for all you do and especially for giving me the privilege of writing about my Brain Cells connection with Charlie.  It has been rewarding to say the least and though it has been a short amount of time since, I feel as if I have gotten to connect with a genuine, pleasant and mature person– this obviously being Charlie.  I am sure like many of the established connections through B.R.A.I.N., our own personal connection has transcended a mere connectorship to a deep-seated friendship.


I remember when I first met Charlie and even prior to that, I remember when “Charlie” was just a name being thrown about among the CSULB girls and Angela.  “I’m  thinking we’ll be pairing you with Charlie”, Angela told me after class, “he is GREAT at computers and really wants to go to college someday”.  I remember thinking, “Well, let’s do it” and gave that nod of approval to Angela.  It was a semester later that I was able to attend my first FBI meeting where I spotted Charlie, manning the computer up front as he always does and then making that connection in my mind, “Charlie is GREAT at computers”.  Maybe some of you remember that along with introducing myself to you all that Thursday, that I had also introduced to everyone the beginning of our friendship.


Soon after that, I would pick Charlie up after school and we would go out and grab a late lunch in Long Beach.  Burgers, grilled cheeses, savoury crepes, dessert crepes and coffee were our means of bonding.  Only after burgers did Charlie reveal that he was on this weight loss journey which made me realize that Islands was really not the best place for us to be.  The most recent time I saw Charlie, he has lost a great deal of weight and with his approval of course, I am able to announce that he has lost TWENTY POUNDS!  I am so very proud of Charlie and I can only hope for this kind of discipline for myself.  I have learned this and so much more from our friendship.  With his potential to take on challenges whether involving his college aspirations despite his personal obstacles, his apparent love for his family and willingness to be that “teaching soul” that he has been for me, I really do look up to Charlie.  Thank you Charlie for being the honest and humble individual you are and a great friend of mine!


How to become a Brain Cells Connector
by Joan Jensen


Brain Connectors are the part of the Brain Cells partnership that has not survived a brain injury. They are people who want to be engaged with a survivor to encourage them on the rocky road to full recovery. In the process of the friendship the Connector might email, call, go to coffee, have a meal, go to a movie, take a walk, etc., in other words what any pair of friends might do.  The connectors are encouraged to make their relationship continue for at least 6 months as it takes that long for a survivor to relate to and have confidence in the friendship.
Connectors are given training to help them understand some of the challenges survivors face and they must get a Livescan ($20 at the local police department) before they are paired. They are encouraged to attend some of the F.B.I. events in order to acquaint themselves with the survivors so that a natural kind of friendship pairing can begin.  Connectors are asked to report the number of contacts they have with their survivor monthly along with any pertinent information that might be helpful to the organization or to the partnership.
kevin and his mother 

My Story

by Kevin Schaaf


I was in excellent health.  My life was great.   Loved flying for SWA for over 20 years. Lived in a “dream 20’s house” in Long Beach…I woke up like any other normal Sunday morning, got on the phone with someone in my car club about being in a show. I was asked lots of questions and then got a stabbing headache. I went to lay down.  When I couldn’t be woken up, a friend was alarmed and called 911…I was taken to St Marys hospital…I woke up and they said I had had a brain bleed/ aneuryism…they opened my skull, couldn’t find the bleed, then went back, finally they did, then clamped it. I was there for another month. I still have a weak left side. My left hand isn’t back fully functional. I’m glad I can talk and walk. My brain seems a bit slow. But I feel whole. I love coming to the Thursday F.B.I. group to meet others in the same boat.

In This Issue
Story About Stress
What It is Like Being a Brain Cells Connector
How to Become a Brain Cells Connector
Our Friends at FBI 


Lori and daughter

cris, diane, peg

David Wick

Dena and Eva

Art's birthday


Debbie and Adam

Larry and Angela






group with Rix


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