Sending love & appreciation as deep as the ocean & as high as the sky to our support group families! 💚
BEST is excited and honored to announce our BEST Superhero of the Month for 2018, a true beacon of light for the brain injury community and beyond.
Congratulations and BEST wishes to Maggie DePuye-Phillips!
DePuye-Phillps serves as a BEST board director and BEST guest blogger. She is also a dedicated caregiver, instructor, counselor and mentor.
Here’s what Maggie’s nominator had to say about her:
Maggie often uses the symbol of a lighthouse when talking about caregiving and BEST: a beacon of hope where the light of support is always on.
Maggie herself is that very lighthouse she describes, offering care, support and hope to fellow caregivers and the brain injury community through her hard work, generous nature, unwavering support, strong leadership, advocacy for others and boundless positive energy.
Maggie is a caregiver for a veteran with traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD). Through her personal experiences, extensive research and teaching background, Maggie has been a ray of light and valuable resource for caregivers and families in both the civilian and military communities.
Through Maggie’s service as a longtime board director for BEST, she brings amazing leadership, wisdom, determination and positivity to the organization.
Maggie also serves in the deaf and hard of hearing community as a counselor, instructor and mentor.
Maggie’s superhero-powered light shine bright for our community–we are deeply grateful for all she does for others.
Have a superhero in your life? Nominate them today by clicking here!
At the Brain Energy Support Team (BEST), we provide support, resources, services, education, social opportunities and more for the brain injury community and their caregivers and families.
Our online presence can be accessed at any time, from anywhere.
Looking to learn more?
Here are the five BEST ways to connect with us!
- brainenergysupportteam.org: Our website features information about who we are, what we do and how you can get involved. Whether you are a brain injury survivor, caregiver, family member, medical or health/wellness professional with an interest in brain health, we have something for everyone on our website. Please visit today.
- Our website blog: Our award-winning website blog features personal essays from the brain injury community, resources and tools, event information, health and wellness tips and strategies, educational articles, original art and much more. Our blog is updated regularly. Please stop by and give us a read. You’ll be glad you did!
- Social media user? BEST has you covered. You can find us on these social media platforms:
We warmly welcome new and current social media followers, engagement and conversation on our social media pages. Join us!
- Subscribe to our e-newsletter! Have the latest news, updates, event information and more delivered right to email inbox each month. Subscribing is fast and easy. Just click here and get started!
- Have a specific question that we can help with? Contact us directly by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 877-719-2378.
According to the Brain Energy Support Team’s Jeff Hartson, brain injury is prevalent in correctional facilities and the numbers of those affected to continue to grow. While estimates vary from facility to facility, traumatic brain injury (TBI) typically impacts from thirty to seventy percent of those incarcerated. Those individuals who have a TBI may experience significant and additional challenges in these kinds of settings.
A new project, Traumatic Brain Injuries in Corrections, is a collaborative effort with the University of Washington, the Washington State Department of Corrections and other participating entities, to assist front line correctional staff to understand the most effective ways to interact with people who have a TBI. The project team is working on creating brain injury training programs, resources and tools for correctional staff to utilize. In addition to corrections staff training, tools and resources that are being implemented, brain injury support group structures and other educational opportunities are being explored as well.
Hartson has been serving on the project as a subject matter expert, due to his vast professional and personal experience.
Hartson is a Brain Energy Support Team board director, brain injury support group facilitator and was recently appointed to serve on the Washington State TBI Council. Hartson’s previous professional experience in the public sector has prepared him well for his newest role: he has a combined thirty years of public service as a correctional officer, emergency medical technician, search and rescue team member, a role as a reserve sheriff’s department deputy and a volunteer firefighter. Hartson’s other recent projects have included providing subject matter expertise in brain injury awareness and education for disaster preparedness and local emergency preparedness efforts in Pierce County, Washington.
On the personal side, Hartson is also a brain injury survivor himself.
It’s with this foundation of experience and passion to serve his community that he can lend his support, ideas and energy to this critical project.
For Hartson, his participation has been deeply rewarding.
“Along with my role as a corrections officer for over 20 years, other experiences in public service, and now as a TBI survivor, I have taken my experiences and being a TBI ‘thriver,’ to help the team create and provide tools for the staff to work with to help them deal with de-escalation, crises and interactions with inmates who have TBI,” says Hartson.
“It’s been a great experience overall,” continues Hartson. “The interest has been phenomenal and there’s great comradery amongst the project participants.”
To learn more about the Traumatic Brain Injury in Corrections Project, please click here for more information.
Alice Fenske and her husband, Andy, are real-life superheroes to local animals that need them the most.
The Fenske’s own and operate the Gentle Paws Hospice and Sanctuary in Grays Harbor County in Washington State. Gentle Paws provides love, support and care for special needs and senior dogs and cats.
Gentle Paws also support the furry family members of low-income senior citizens and homeless adults. The Fenske’s provides love, boarding and care at no cost for the animals in the event of their humans having a medical emergency or if they need some time and support to get back on their feet; once they are ready, they reunite with their animals again.
What fuels the Fenske’s passion for animals, especially those with special needs, comes from their own histories and experiences. Both are brain injury survivors and have been members of the Grays Harbor County Brain Injury Support Group since moving to Washington State five years ago. For the Fenske’s, it was the help and support they needed.
“We couldn’t believe our luck that this tiny community would have a TBI support group for the first time since Andy’s accident,” says Alice Fenske. “We were finally getting answers, confirmations, and help. Thank you, God, for this group. Through the years I realized that with the accidents I have had, (I) broke my neck in 1996 and numerous concussions since moving out here, that I too, have had a TBI.”
The Fenske’s wanted to provide similar support, help, answers, and most especially, a voice, for special needs animals in need. Paired with big hearts and a great love for animals, the Fenske’s journey forward after brain injury would also include caring for animals.
For Alice Fenske, her passion for animals began at a young age.
“I grew up not having the very best life and I have always had animals in it and they have always been there for me. They love unconditionally and always forgive you,” says Fenske. “My love for animals started when I was very young, and the special needs and seniors grabbed my attention.”
Fenske continues, “When (my husband and I) lived in Wyoming, (where) the humane society from Longmont, Colorado had a 14-year-old very overweight female dog who had huge cancerous tumors hanging off her, was dropped off by her family. They knew nobody was going to even take notice of (the dog) Mia, so I got a hold of a rescue whom I had done another hospice dog for.”
The rescue group knew that the Fenske’s were moving to Washington State, but asked if they could come look at Mia anyway.
“We went down (there) and one look and I knew she was coming home with us,” says Fenske.
The Fenske’s took care of Mia’s health needs and showered her with love and attention. In turn, Mia taught them some valuable lessons in love and acceptance in the short remainder of her life.
“Miss Mia opened our eyes to how seniors and some special needs dogs were treated at the ends of their lives. We have been told, ‘They just won’t die;’ ‘They are no fun anymore;’ and ‘They just lay around.’ We have heard so many excuses it breaks our hearts.
We don’t have to go far to get animals; we have to say ‘no’ to animals every day, which breaks our hearts, but it is just the two of us and we are usually at 30 dogs.”
Fenske explains the mission and vision for Gentle Paws. It’s passionate and straightforward.
“They don’t have a voice that can been heard, especially the older or special needs (animals). The puppies always get seen and adopted and get the money they need for whatever. The seniors hear this: they are old, they will probably die soon, and should we really put money into them.
We are here to say, yes. They have feelings too; they love to be loved, go on walks, be on the couches, sit in front of our fireplace, jump into bed with us at night. They deserve the same things in life that people take for granted.”
Fenske continues, “People take a lot of their animals for granted and not go the extra step for them, especially the seniors or special needs when they get older. All that these animals want is a warm place to lay down and have a place to call home.”
While at this point, the Fenske’s don’t have formal plans for the sanctuary, they hope to keep taking in animals in need of love and support.
One of these special animals at Gentle Paws was featured on the international website, The Dodo, a hugely popular site for animal lovers, activists, and advocates. The video shares how the community came together to support a beautiful special needs dog named Sunshine. Please click here to see the powerful and inspirational video about Sunshine, Gentle Paws and her human supporters and friends.
As for the sanctuary’s immediate needs, monetary and food are always welcomed and appreciated. For those who wish to donate, please click here for phone contact information. Please call the sanctuary first to make donation arrangements.
In the meantime, Alice and Andy Fenske keep helping the animals.
“We just plan to keep putting one paw in front of the other,” smiles Alice Fenske. “This journey has been amazing.”
Here’s what some of our BEST Superheroes have been up to!
The Tacoma Brain Injury Support Group indulged in some fall seasonal and festive fun back in October!
The Edmonds Brain Injury Support Group got to lend a helping hand to BEST Gratitude Specialist and popular local paper artist, Diane Rasch, in creating custom designed birthday cards and thank you cards for the Birthday Card Project (click here to learn more about this special project).
Special thanks to Jeff Hartson for the pictures!
Local Washington State BEST Superheroes celebrated the end of summer 2017 in BEST style.
The superheroes from the Edmonds and Everett Brain Injury Support Groups met recently for a delightful end of summer Puget Sound picnic to celebrate the season and to celebrate each other.
Edmonds Support Group Facilitator, Robin Spicuzza, captured some special shots of the group on this fun day.