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This blog represents the content of a nomination letter written by Laura Shannon, a caregiver to a family member who has an acquired brain injury. She submitted the kind words as part of her application to nominate Semiahmoo House Society’s Acquired Brain Injury Services to the Fraser Health Community for Everyone Recognition Award, in the Agency Award category. (An agency, through which policies, programs, and practice promotes independence for individuals with an ABI while maximizing personal capacity (not limited to rehabilitation).

Semiahmoo House Society was the winner in 2010 and although the organization was not chosen this year, it was still a winner in Laura’s eyes. For this reason, she wanted to share her words in this blog.

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The Semiahmoo House Society’s Acquired Brain Injury Program located in Surrey operates a drop in program on Tuesdays and day programs on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of each week.

The drop in is what it sounds like. People with acquired brain injuries are welcome to drop in to socialize and have a meal at a minimal cost. They play games, listen to music, enjoy and share a commonality with others. A person with a brain injury often suffers the opportunity to socialize after their injury due to the challenges they face. This is a good place to work on that.

Sylvia Hoeree is the Program Coordinator. She works harmoniously with Melodie Lane and Rod Field at the drop in and the day program. It would be wonderful to see these three caring and compassionate people recognized because of their commitment and dedication to individuals who have had their lives altered in their prime with an acquired brain injury.

Acquired brain injuries are often misunderstood and people fall through the cracks. They don’t always get the help they need as they often can’t advocate for themselves. The Day Program, under the guidance of Sylvia Hoeree is very person centered and considerate. It is alert to the needs of those individuals who attend. People with brain injuries often have physical, cognitive, speech (aphasia), social, memory, and advocate difficulties. At the program, they are listened to and issues are resolved or solutions found. Clients are “understood” here and given the utmost respect. Friendships are formed: needs met; self-confidence regained; goals and personal growth are encouraged; new talents are discovered.

The program includes social time, music therapy, and discovery in arts and crafts, cooking, games, computer time, discussions, outings and celebrations. I am sure I have missed something. The point is that the program encourages people who have acquired a brain injury to realize their full potential and to work towards their independence. They are encouraged to explore choices that may be different than what they were used to or to find alternative ways to follow their hopes and dreams and to not give up because others may not understand them. Many of these people have been deserted by family and friends due to a lack of understanding of their challenges. There is not enough public information out there. At ABI they get the understanding. This is a fun group, you will hear much laughter. Being part of the group is like being part of a “family” because everyone cares about you.

Most of the people attending the program are comfortable talking about their daily challenges, knowing that they will not be ignored, that the others who attend “”get it”’ and that it is a place where you will be respected.

One of the annual highlights of ABI is the Yard Sale held at Sylvia Hoeree’s home. Sylvia, Melodie and Rod go above and beyond to make this work by collecting and sorting the many generously donated items that arrive at ABI. It’s a good group effort and everyone can be as involved as they like. The sale event raises enough funds to take the group to a special pre decided upon outing. Last year a Vegas Night was organized and it was a huge success. Vegas came to ABI. I would like to thank Sylvia, Melodie, Rod and Anthony who often fills in at the program and is an asset to a well-oiled machine.

As the caregiver of a family member with an acquired brain injury, I wish for the continued success and support of this program. It serves a very necessary need for those people with an acquired brain injury. Sylvia, Melodie and Rod need to know that they really make a positive difference for ABI.

Thank you so much for the opportunity to recognize them.


Laura Shannon

Semiahmoo House Society, a non-profit organization located in Surrey/White Rock, exists to provide quality services and supports to people with disabilities and their families in the community.  The Semiahmoo Foundation exists to fund, support and enhance the programs and services delivered by Semiahmoo House Society.

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