So grateful for our friends and supporters at BEST!
People with the biggest and most loving hearts can do some pretty magical things. These wonderful souls are connected with so much good in the world when it comes to helping others; kindness, care, inspiration, love, positivity, giving a needed hug and a hand up are just some of the hallmarks of their characters. They are also instrumental in the creation and love of dreams, whether these dreams are for others or their very own.
These are the words and concepts that perfectly define BEST member Diane Rasch.
Rasch, a Midwest native, married mother of three, artist, performer and craftswoman, is well known in the organization for her warm smile, her kindness and dedication to others in BEST at support groups and “Stitchin’ It Up!” and her wonderful creative talents. And while she has spent most of her life helping others, she is taking some time to realize her own dreams too.
Rasch has started her own business “Heartfelt Tidbits of Creativity” which combines her love of lifting others spirits while showcasing her line of handmade cards, notes, and other crafts. Rasch is a natural at this endeavor and she is eager to continue to grow and learn. She was also a featured artist at the TBI art show in September 2013.
“It just keeps getting more and more creative; the creativity keeps coming more and more,” explains Rasch. “Getting into making cards really means a lot to me. I just love making cards. It’s so much fun!”
One of Rasch’s earlier card making projects launched right here at BEST. Rasch decided to send BEST members special hand-crafted birthday cards. People were touched by the gesture, but there was one person who reached back out to Rasch that touched her heart profoundly.
“I received a thank you card back for the birthday card I sent,” shares Rasch. “There was a handwritten note that said how much that card meant to that person. They told me it was the only birthday card they got.”
Rasch continues, with emotion in her voice.
“I felt so moved by this response, I just cried. This really touched me; this is why I just love getting into making cards.”
It’s with this kind of care and commitment to others that has been a staple in Rasch’s life, before and after her brain injury in 2006. Prior to her injury, Rasch spent decades teaching, mentoring and caring for children in the public and private arena. Children hold an extra special place in Rasch’s heart; she thinks of them fondly and often. She is particularly passionate about children with special needs and inner-city youth; she spent years helping these children not only learn new things, but she also helped coordinate healthy meals and emotional support for each child in her charge.
“These are the kids that society sees as hopeless, “shares Rasch. “I didn’t see it that way at all. I was just drawn to these kids. There is such value to all of them and so many get ‘thrown away.’ I knew there was hope. I loved watching these kids change and grow. For me, it was very special to me and very rewarding.”
While children and serving other sis certainly a passion in her adult life, she had another creative passion in her youth that still burns bright in her heart: dance. Rasch started at the tender age of four learning dance. She was instantly hooked on the art form and proceeded to study dance for the next decade. Rasch took as many ballet and tap classes as she could manage, savoring the magic, movement and creative spirit expressed through the world of dance. As she was about move to toe shoes in her ballet program, financial issues and a conflict with the instructor ended the lessons.
But the love of dance never left her and even with a TBI, Rasch is still dancing. Literally.
Last spring, Diane had some chance encounters with a dance instructor who encouraged her to resume her ballet instruction. At first hesitant, Rasch decided to give it a try anyway and she signed up for lessons at the Ballet Theater School in Edgewood.
It changed her life.
“I can’t always make my hands and legs go at the same time or same pace,” says Rasch with a hearty laugh. “But I love it and it has been really inspirational to me.”
“Plus, you really have to have a good sense of humor, “she smiles and winks.
And a live performance doesn’t hurt either. Rasch performed in Headstrong’s “WeirdStock: Strangers and Aliens” event in October, performing a dance with scarves. Rasch’s performance was nothing short of inspiring.
“I really wanted to do my dream and do something with dance,” she said. “I decided on performing with scarves. It was spontaneous, but it just felt right.”
Speaking of feeling just right, Rasch’s involvement with BEST is exactly that. Rasch and her husband are relatively new residents of Washington State, a move predicated on living closer to Rasch’s three children and their families who are all local residents. It proved to be a good move in more ways than one; she expanded her family and then some.
When Rasch lived in the Midwest, she encountered something all too common in the TBI community: lack of validation and belief.
“My doctor’s told me symptoms were all in my head,” she sighs.
Then one day at a public library in Illinois, she happened upon a book that changed her life for the better. It was a book on TBI and for the first time she could connect and validate her experiences.
After arriving in Washington, she joined BEST for support and has nothing but fierce love for her new found family.
“I’m really close to everyone at BEST, “she explains. “For the first time in my life, it’s so nice to have someone who really, really gets you. People ask me why I got to more than one of the support groups at BEST.”
“I tell them it’s simple. With the love and support we have for each other, it’s family. And It’s really important to be with family.”
If you would like to share your story and journey, contact Kim at kimT@brainenergysupportteam.org.
So, what’s the connection between Oscar-winning actor George Clooney and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)?
Clooney and his family founded the Betty Clooney Foundation and Betty Clooney Center in Los Angeles, California. The Foundation and Center have come to the aid of TBI survivors and their families in getting the resources, support and other important tools since 1983.
After Betty Clooney’s death in 1976 as a result of a brain aneurysm, the family created the organization to help others.
George Clooney himself is no stranger to TBI. On the 2005 set of his movie “Syriana” (in which Clooney walked away with an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor), he suffered a head injury that led to surgery, rehab and a long and challenging recovery. (Click on the link above to see the details).
Here at the Brain Energy Support Team (BEST) , stories matter.
Everyone who is involved with the organization has a story to tell and a remarkable personal journey. Our new blog feature, Our BEST Stories, is designed to not only tell individual stories on how people became involved with BEST, but also to inspire, share and promote conversation.
If you’ve had the opportunity to spend time with BEST Program Director, Penny Condoll, you’ll notice that she has an important catch phrase:
“It’s a beautiful thing.”
At BEST, our stories are beautiful things indeed.
Let’s kick off our first story.
Meet Kim Thompson (a.k.a. me, your author!).
Me, at the BEST 1st Annual Dinner and Dessert Auction on 10/26/13 in costume (I am not really a blonde!)
Name: Kim Thompson
Current City: University Place, Washington
Born: Tacoma, Washington
Personal Life: married, mom of two, freelance newspaper and magazine journalist, BEST team member
Favorite Quote: “Women and elephants never forget.” —writer Dorothy Parker
Favorite things: family and friends, good cheese, all kinds of chocolate, running and walking, writing, music, animals, restaurants, Tacoma
My journey to the Brain Energy Support Team was an interesting and unexpected one. I credit a savvy newspaper editor, the happy involvement of the universe and downright good fortune.
As a freelance journalist, one of the key gigs is being a military reporter for a local publication. Back in the early spring, my editor was doling out assignments and he told me that he discovered BEST and thought it would make an interesting story for our readers. After doing the research, I wholeheartedly agreed and picked up the story.
When I contacted BEST for an interview, Executive Director, Gloria Kraegel, got back to me immediately and suggested a meeting. As a journalist, it’s always a good sign when a source is eager to talk and gets back to you right away. I had a hunch that it would be a good interview.
My hunch was correct. I had a wonderful meeting not only with Gloria, but with Penny Condoll, BEST Program Director. Both women were so kind, welcoming, open and straightforward about the organization’s mission, vision and community engagement. They were also quite gracious when I kept them 30 minutes over my promised interview timeframe. Let’s put it this way: I was so engrossed in the conversation and learning more, that time just slipped away. I thanked both Gloria and Penny for their time, energy and great information. As I walked out, I knew exactly what needed to happen next.
I decided to write the heck out of that story.
I also decided that it wouldn’t be the last time I would see Gloria and Penny.
Again, my hunch was a correct one.
Because BEST had such a rich overall story, I felt that one story just wasn’t enough. I wanted to cover the Stitchin’ It Up! program as well, as it touched me so profoundly. My editor agreed and the second story of the series was born.
By the end of that interview, Gloria and Penny were no longer sources, but friends and mentors. We agreed to stay in touch.
It wasn’t soon after that meeting, that I learned that the BEST team had acquired a home. I was absolutely thrilled to learn about BEST Space and how everything fell into place to make it happen. When Gloria and Penny asked if I wanted a tour, I jumped at the chance. It was such a personal treat to see the BEST team’s vision come to life in this terrific space. To quote Penny again (because it seems so fitting), it was a beautiful thing.
I popped by the BEST Space Open House celebration later that month and had the opportunity to meet so many really great people. The space looked amazing—so inviting and comfortable. It was easy to see the loving small touches; but most importantly, it was the team’s passion in making this dream a reality that really struck me.
Since that time, I have brought my children to BEST Space. My little test of specialness—simply ask my kiddos what they think. They told me that they both liked how nice the people were, how cool the craft room was and that they would like to visit again. Out of the mouth of babes, right?
So, I am pleased to announce that I actually am officially part of the BEST family as of early October. I will be helping out with public relations, social media, blogging, and writing tasks to support BEST. I am excited to be of service.
And the timing of this involvement is so deeply poignant for me personally. A very close family member has been struggling with partial complex seizures as the result of a possible TBI suffered earlier in life. While the cause is still under investigation, I was able to gain support and valuable resources from my new friends at BEST. It was a salve for my entire family.
As I journey forward at BEST, I know my story will grow, change and become even more wonderful. I am so looking forward to getting to know all of you and enjoying some good conversations. I also welcome your ideas, feedback and questions on the blog and our Facebook and Twitter pages. Contact me at kimT@brainenergysupportteam.org. Looking forward to chatting soon!
Welcome to our new blog feature, the Monday Kick-starter Quote of the Week. We could all use a little inspiration on a Monday, right? To kick off the new feature, we would like to quote a local Tacoma legend that spoke to auction patrons at the first annual BEST dinner and dessert fundraising auction.
“There are two ways to think about things: Either ‘I think I can do’ it or ‘I think I can’t do it.’ It’s all in the attitude, folks. A positive attitude is everything!”
—Joe Stortini, local restauranteur, philanthropist, and Tacoma icon during the welcome address at the recent BEST fundraising auction at his restaurant, Joeseppi’s.
Wise words Mr. Stortini!
Have a personal and meaningful quote you’d like to share? Let us know!
Oh what a night!
The first annual BEST Frightfully Delightful Dinner and Dessert Fundraising Auction was held on October 26, 2013 at Joeseppi’s Ristorante in Tacoma. Auction patrons came from near and far, some even decked out in costumes and spiffy Halloween duds, to feast on delicious Italian cuisine, bid on yummy desserts and other fabulous items in the silent auction, partake in the lively drawings for raffle prizes and door prizes and participate in the spirited costume contest and impromptu Halloween costume parade/mini-dance off!
Thanks to the team at Stichin’ It Up!, the auction banquet room was festively decorated in the spirit of the season: cute and delightful ghosts atop beautifully crafted cloth place mats adorned with ghosts and pumpkins and googly eyed spiders surrounded by gobs of fun-sized Halloween candy treats which were enjoyed by all.
The silent auction, held in Joesepppi’s roomy deli area, gave bidders a great opportunity to peruse mouth-watering and positively artistic desserts, generously appointed gift baskets, gift certificates for terrific goods and services, and so much more.
Joesepppi’s restaurant owner,philanthropist and Tacoma icon, Joe Stortini, addressed the crowd with a warm Italian-style welcome and spirited speech on having a positive attitude and perseverance.
BEST Executive Director, Gloria Kraegel thanked auction participants for their attendance and participation.
BEST Program Director Penny Condoll updated the audience on the current BEST program offerings and expressed gratitude to her fellow teammates and board members for all their hard work and dedication to the mission and vision of BEST. BEST Training Coordinator Janet Novinger, Stitchin’ It Up! Coordinator Karen Shepard, and Outreach Support Coordinator Paul Bishop echoed Gloria and Penny’s words, and expressed their eagerness to continue on with the good works of the organization.
BEST Board President Tawnya Padilla and BEST Board Vice President Maggie DePuye-Phillips, along with Gloria Kraegel and Kim Thompson, served on the auction event committee. The auction team was delighted by the turnout and really enjoyed visiting with patrons. They expressed their personal thanks to those who supported the auction’s vision, planning, and execution.
Special thanks to Joe Stortini and his team at Joeseppi’s for their extraordinary service and warm hospitality, to all of the all wonderful event sponsors and other donors for their generosity and support, and finally, to all the family, friends, and supporters of BEST who made this evening possible with their generosity, encouragement, love and support.
To get a photo recap of the evening’s events, please visit our Facebook page here at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Brain-Energy-Support-Team/165908016753065. In fact, “like” us on Facebook (and Twitter too!) to keep up on all the latest updates, information, and special events that BEST has to offer.
Hello friends and supporters of BEST!
As all of you are aware, there are lots of blogs out there in the cyber world. Everyone has their own specific definitions of what a blog is and what a blog does.
Here at BEST, we have our very own definition of a blog, too. First off, a blog is a great forum to share information and engage in discussion. However, we see our website’s blog as a bit more. We see it as a welcoming place; a place to come together to learn, share ideas and support one another on our journeys.
That’s why we are excited to share with you some upcoming changes on the blog.
Here’s a little taste of what to expect:
Everyone who has their lives touched in some way by traumatic brain injury has a story to tell. Perhaps it’s a story of overcoming obstacles and having perseverance. Maybe it’s a story of embracing a new path. Periodically, we are going to share stories of real people and their real journeys.
Things You Need to Know
We will continue to post information and resources that is of value to you, our readers. Have some information that you think would be of interest to others in this forum? Tell us about it!
Inspirational words come in all forms: quotes from great thinkers, song lyrics, art, photography, poetry, humor and so much more. Look for little tidbits of information aimed to inspire.
Okay, you gotta have a little fun, right? Laughter is a great thing. Check out the blog for some funnies that will put a smile on your face.
One of the best things about a blog: comments and discussion. Watch for a new “talking point” icon to appear on our posts; we’ll pose questions to get the conversation started. Good conversation builds good community!
What do you think?
As always, your feedback and ideas are important. We welcome them.
So, stayed tuned and enjoy!
We’re so very excited to announce the opening of Our BEST Space!
We’ve received several generous donations that made this dream of 5 years a reality and we couldn’t be happier. Our space is designed to accommodate those with brain injury. After all BEST is built by and for those with brain injury and their families.
Our BEST Space will be hosting classes, meetings, and more.
Our grand opening is 17 September from 3pm to 6pm. Stop by for refreshments and peek at Our BEST Space.
We’re located at 2607 Bridgeport Way West, Suite 2G in University Place. Our BEST Space is on the second floor of the professional building next to Wells Fargo.
Thank you to everyone who has helped us along the way.