September Letter From Angela

LETTER FROM ANGELA

Dear friends,

B.R.A.I.N. had its Fall 2013 kick-off for Friends of Brain Injury (F.B.I.) on Tuesday, September 10th, so I thought it fitting to tell the story of how this dynamic and unique group began.

In 2007, I was teaching at CSULB in the Communicative Disorders Department and running graduate clinics in Adult Language. This means that my graduate students were providing speech and language therapy to people in the community who suffered from a stroke, head injury, aneurysm, and the like. One young man in his late twenties attended my clinic. He suffered a stroke which left his aphasic. He understood what you said to him but could not express himself verbally. He moved back to his parents’ home and sat in his room listening to music. He lost his business, his ability to drive his car and his life. I would watch him in therapy and he was angry and very frustrated. I asked a client who also had a stroke in her early sixties what she thought about starting a group for younger folks. She was excited about this as she wanted to make a difference in someone else’s life too. So, The Young Neuro Group (YNG) began in 2007. We met at Starbucks on campus – 5 of us. Two graduate students, two survivors and me. It took a little convincing for this young man to wrap his mind around doing things with other stroke survivors. It was easier to go to therapy and go home. It was showing his vulnerability to be around people when he couldn’t communicate. We would later meet on campus in a small classroom and other survivors from the clinic started to attend. We talked, played charades, drank coffee, and sometimes, attempted to sing karaoke. YNG grew to include 15 survivors and 20 graduate students. I left CSULB, was hired at Chapman University, contacted many of my brain-injured friends and their families/caregivers/friends and merged YNG into Friends of Brain Injury (F.B.I.) in October of 2010.

This young man is now dating another survivor, takes reading and writing classes at B.R.A.I.N. and showed up for the kick off on September 10th. My heart swelled when I looked out from the front of the multi-purpose room and I saw over 140 people gathered to “do life together.”

I am honored to be the F.B.I. group facilitator. I am blessed to have this opportunity to serve and to be inspired by the many survivors who attend weekly.

If you haven’t attended an F.B.I. meeting on Tuesday nights from 5-7 p.m., I encourage you to check it out. We have college/grad students, businessmen and women, survivors, family members, and community members who attend, all with the purpose of living a more enriched life.

Thank you for reading my monthly message. I love to hear how this group has changed your life. Write to me at mgm84@aol.com.

 

Sincerely,

Angela Mandas, MA CCC

Speech Language Pathologist

FBI Group Facilitator

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