Improving quality of life for survivors

Mary, a former client of ARBI. Photo credit: ARBI

“I can help you” were the four words spoken by Audrey Morris in 1972 when she reached out to help the son of her dear friend Alice Laine. Mel Laine lay in a comatose state as a result of a serious hit and run accident that left him with a traumatic brain injury. Mel’s family was given no hope for his recovery by the medical system. Audrey lived up to her promise and much more. She worked tirelessly on Mel’s rehabilitation for six hours a day, six days a week, for six years.

Although she had no formal training, Audrey’s creativity, determination and drive helped Mel relearn how to talk, walk, think and write; once again allowing him to lead a meaningful life. Eventually Audrey, Alice and volunteers began helping other brain injury survivors in the basement of the Woodcliff United Church. As new patients with brain injuries from accidents or strokes came through the doors of the church, additional volunteers were recruited. Audrey and Alice formed the Association for the Rehabilitation of the Brain Injured, more often referred to as ARBI, in 1978.

Last year, ARBI volunteers dedicated over 10,000 hours serving patients with brain injuries. Today, ARBI fills an essential gap that exists in services providing timely, affordable and community-based rehabilitation to survivors of moderate to severe acquired brain injuries. Combining intensive rehabilitation with community integration and family support, patients benefit from unique programs delivered by a team of dedicated volunteers.

The Calgary Foundation has been an integral partner in ARBI’s growth over the past several years and provided a Community Grant in 2014. The Foundation has focused support on ARBI’s capacity building initiatives—by helping to improve and enhance relationships with donors and community stakeholders. Through the support of the Foundation and its donors, ARBI was able to develop an online training intranet for volunteers, complete a complex review of its patient programs and a review of its organizational structure. ARBI has also been able to produce a new strategic plan to guide the organization into the future. ARBI’s dream is to achieve an accessible community—one that is inclusive and empathetic towards all people living with a physical or intellectual disability.

Find out more, visit ARBI