Angela's December 2017 Letter

Dear Friends,

It is customary to look back on the year to determine the growth of a business, non-profit or personal development. As our fearless Leader and Founder Sue Rueb will tell you, it has been a very good year! I would like to share some of my favorite highlights in terms of growth during Friends of Brain Injury (F.B.I.), the weekly Tuesday night program. Each week we welcome community members from as far away as Los Angeles, Pasadena, Whittier and south Orange County. The travel is a part of the journey to healing and well-being. Members enter the multi-purpose room to be seen as a whole person healing in mind, body and spirit. Just like in Psalm 31:7, “You have seen my affliction; you have known the troubles of my soul”. Friends, volunteers, and survivors enter in with the common need to be understood and to be cared for. As the group facilitator, I smile when I see the increased physical strength of someone walking into the room as they were once only able to use a wheelchair. Their presence is recognized and every person in the room celebrates the steps towards independence. The joy and the empathy are felt weekly in the verbal communication shared at the tables in discussions, and in activities in which participants can answer questions in any modality such as writing, pointing or spelling on an augmentative device. The understanding of “you have known the troubles", is felt by each person in the room. No one just decides they want to participate in a brain injury wellness group. They have a relative with a stroke or traumatic brain injury, an interest in becoming a speech language pathologist, a desire to learn more about the brain, or a desire to become a part of a community. Volunteers tell me that they get more out of listening to the stories of growth than they do by breaking down tables, making coffee, taking out the food, etc. It is impossible to feel bad leaving any ordinary Tuesday night. The presence of strength is felt from the caregivers and the survivors, the families in need of support and guidance, the cheers when someone is understood, and the celebration when someone moves on to another city in hopes of starting a family. These people matter, and we serve this community to improve their well-being. We are not focused on the brain injury but the healing of a brain or the aging of a brain. We are all united and as we move into the New Year, I will be focusing on Dr. John Medina’s newest book to guide my curriculum. The book is titled Brain Rules for Aging Well: 10 Principles for Staying Vital, Happy and Sharp. (2018, Pear Press).

I look forward to developing a new curriculum for Tuesday nights. I hope you plan to be there and don’t forget to invite a friend.

Angela Mandas

F.B.I. Facilitator