Sometimes in life, the stars just align.
And before you know it, you are connected to something bigger than you ever thought imaginable.
I was a journalist who worked for several locally-based military community publications. Through that work, I was honored to share the stories of veterans (including disabled veterans), active duty servicemembers, military spouses and military families.
This community showed me what resiliency and empowerment was first hand.
Enter the Brain Energy Support Team (BEST).
Through my work at the paper, I had the chance opportunity to interview BEST multiple times, as BEST was a valuable resource for the military community. They, too, taught me about empowerment, resilience, and hope.
Through these conversations, a bond and friendship emerged with my new BEST friends, and it was then that I began my communications work right here, starting with this very blog.
Here’s where the stars align.
On my first day with BEST, I got the news, literally that very same day, that a family member was formally and officially diagnosed with a brain injury and epilepsy after several misdiagnoses.
So here I was, amongst kind, supportive, welcoming, and amazing people, brain injury survivors and family caregivers, who were able to provide resources, encouragement, and care for me and my family from day one.
I have had the opportunity over the years to write and share the stories, in words and pictures, of survivors, caregivers and families. I have also been able to connect, have important conversations, and develop friendships and share support each day with people from the brain injury and caregiving community from all over the world through BEST’s social media platforms.
This bond of support and care has only strengthened during COVID-19; but also, the need for support has also increased due to the pandemic.
It’s with this personal experience over the last eight years, and witnessing first hand the impact of COVID-19 on the brain injury community, that I encourage anyone reading this to join us as a BEST Superhero member or support us with a monetary gift (any amount is welcomed and appreciated). (Prefer to mail your gift? Click here).
Your efforts will make a difference.
In fact, I know this for sure: your efforts are the difference.
(Editor’s note: BEST’s own Kim Thompson recently shared this article about a behind the scenes look at being a Nonprofit Communications Manager. This article originally appeared on Medium and it has been reprinted here with the author’s permission).
I have been a nonprofit communications professional for nearly a decade.
What does my job entail?
People like me are mostly behind the scenes sharing stories, information, resources, and much more about the nonprofits they serve. We can also provide support to co-workers, community partners, projects, events, and processes.
Pretty straightforward, right?
It is, yet here’s what I wish people would know about my work, and the work of my peers, because it’s bigger than writing, social media graphics, newsletters, press releases, and blog posts.
Nonprofit communication workers are sponges for creativity, fresh ideas, and inspiration. We love finding the next new thing, approach, or communication tool. We are eager to learn new things and regularly pour over educational opportunities, reports, infographics, and talking to others to find something new and exciting.
This kind of energy is how we keep pace in a changing and evolving nonprofit landscape.
It’s also how we thrive as people.
That’s good, yes?
Yes and no.
It can keep us up at night. Thinking, thinking and more thinking, churning out ideas, poring over concepts.
We worry, and we can worry lots, just like other nonprofit professionals in other roles in a nonprofit.
1. Are we helping people?
2. Are we supporting communities?
3. Are we making the world a better place?
4. Are we doing things that people care about? Love? Want to support?
5. Are we making someone’s day a little better? A little brighter? A little more hopeful?
6. Are we engaging people in conversation? A call to action?
7. How can we do more?
There’s this: we LOVE (all caps intentional) it when YOU (all caps and italics, also intentional) love something that we’ve written, shared, created. Our hearts swell with joy.
We also love those happy accidents or surprise when something we just think is okay, really takes off and soars!
On the flipside, our hearts sink when something we’ve worked on hard just flops.
People either don’t engage, don’t care, or plain just don’t like what we’ve tried to do. It hurts, but we get it. It happens. We are like scientists; we know that all experiments aren’t going to work. But we don’t fear the experiment either, whether the outcome was so-so or an absolute disaster.
And we don’t let it get us down too long. Or rather, try not to. We head back to the drawing board, become sponges again, and ask ourselves the seven questions above once more.
And like I said before, we love new fresh ideas! That means, all ideas from the community are welcomed, encouraged and deeply appreciated.
That means, if you have an idea, share it! I’ve personally found the best ideas have come from the community we serve, because they know best what they want to see, hear, and do. Sometimes the ideas come from readers that come by our materials by a hashtag, a social media share, or by chance. Wonderful! The donors who love the nonprofit and the cause are another terrific source of inspiration and thoughts, too. So much yes to them!
Let me repeat, we love hearing new fresh ideas!
And speaking of innovative ideas this is the important thing that all nonprofit professionals understand, know, and feel deep in their bones: reinvention.
As nonprofits we must be prepared to reinvent ourselves, shift some thing or all things, and/or change directions a little or lots. Sometimes, this must be done on a dime, due to a changing need, an evolving need, or an emergency.
The COVID-19 health emergency put this ability to the test like nothing else.
To say it shook things up is an understatement.
While reinvention can be exciting, it can also be scary, stressful, or worrisome.
As nonprofit professionals we press ahead anyway, because: A. we must. B. we believe in what we do and really want to be of service.
But hey, we aren’t perfect and head into challenges with smiles on our faces all the time. We are humans, and we get frustrated, tired and burned out. We get writer’s block. We misjudge. Misunderstand. We make mistakes.
But be assured, we’re still there behind the scenes, caring and creating.
And there’s one thing we especially care about it, and it matters more than anything else.
We care about the stories we tell and share with others.
They are important.
They mean something.
Our storytelling and the stories themselves are like beloved family members. We protect and nurture them, love them, support them.
Know that for sure, no matter what changes and no matter what happens.
Finally, on behalf of my nonprofit communications tribe (and other nonprofit pros really), thank you. Thank you for engaging with us, supporting us, talking to us, donating to our cause, and sharing your care.
You are not making a difference. You are the difference.
Kim Thompson is the Outreach and Communications Manager for the Brain Energy Support Team (BEST), a 501c3 nonprofit organization founded in 2008. BEST provides support education, and resources, along with tools and strategies to support success, health, and well-being for individuals with brain injury and their families. BEST distinguishes itself from other brain injury organizations in that the leadership, services, and programs are built by and for individuals with brain injury and their families. Visit them at brainenergysupportteam.org.
Thank you so much for your questions and topics!
Speaking of topics, I received two important topics from our BEST friend, Sue P. She suggested covering the topics of fatigue and brain injury and migraine and brain injury.
Thank you, Sue, for the great suggestions!
Because the of the amount of links and the size of the topic, I decided it would be best to cover the information in an article instead of a short video, and break up the suggestions in two parts.
Today, I’ll cover fatigue and brain injury, and in an upcoming article (coming soon), I’ll cover migraine and brain injury.
Fatigue and Brain Injury
Fatigue is defined as:
Extreme tiredness, typically resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.
Fatigue can be seriously impactful for brain injury survivors.
It’s no wonder it fatigue is one of the top concerns for survivors.
Neuro-fatigue is one of the most common and constant issues that brain injury survivors face. Neuro-fatigue is defined as a profound lack of energy in engaging in daily life activities, communicating and/or socializing with others; difficulty staying aroused and awake; and decreased alertness. This kind of fatigue can have significant impacts to people’s overall well-being and health.
So, how do you navigate fatigue (and neuro-fatigue)? What are some tips to manage?
Here are some resources and links to offer some insight.
Writer, stroke survivor and BEST guest blog contributor, Isaac Peterson, has written some terrific articles about fatigue and brain injury. Click on the article titles below to check them out.
Following are additional resources.
Click here for a good TBI fact sheet on fatigue (and what to do about it).
Our BEST friends at Headway in the United Kingdom have a great page on fatigue and brain injury which consists of videos, information and resources. Click here to view.
I’ll conclude here, as there is a lot of information to take in.
How do you manage fatigue issues? What resources would you like to share with the community?
She agreed to provide an upcoming video response on the afternoon of Wednesday, April 29, 2020. Questions were due for this video by questions due by Tuesday, April 28,2020 at 5 pm.
The questions came in, and below, is Kim’s video response!
If you missed the deadline noted above, don’t worry! We’ll continue to put videos and other features (live video on Facebook and Instagram) out as long as you have questions.
Do you have questions about:
- The Brain Energy Support Team (BEST)
- Brain Injury Awareness
Let Kim know!
There’s more: Kim will also take questions outside of BEST and brain injury.
Kim has a background in writing, journalism, social media, communications, and caregiving as a family caregiver.
She would be happy to answer your questions about writing, writing activities, social media safety and tips, and caregiving tips and encouragement.
Email your questions in advance to Kim. Her email address is email@example.com.
In the video below, Kim references a special social media article that was published on the BEST blog. You can click here to read it.
Thank you for watching!