The South Okanagan Similkameen Brain Injury Society celebrated 20 years of service on Oct. 3. The society began when a group of people suffering from brain injuries and their families got together to support each other, since no other help was then locally available. The founding members were Linda and John Sloane; Roberta and Al Spara; Gord, Jean and Gordie Hall; Lois and Bob Dalrymple; Paul and Edwina Jackson, Linda Chatie and Rob Hopkins; Tom Sharpe; Darin Anderson; Elizabeth Elrick; and Mike Robinson.
Originally the society was incorporated as the Penticton Head Injury Society in 1991 with the “massive” budget of $500. The first board of directors had seven members: John Sloane, Martin Oram, Joanne Leak, Tom Sharpe, Linda Chatie, Janelle Breese Biagioni and Robin Adoiphe. Soon a facilitator was hired, and then in 1995 an executive director.
In 2002 the society took on managing several types of housing for people with disabilities. And in 2008 we became the local agency running a program of outreach to the homeless. Our housing activities now are centred around a 23-unit apartment, three multi-bedroom houses, a motel and positive relationships with many landlords in the city.
The society has become well known within the area for its promotion of the use of helmets in bicycling and various sports. But we do much more. Last year the society provided about 7,200 hours of service to people with brain injuries and their families. Services include one-on-one support, and various groups such as stroke support, brain injury education and cooking on a budget. In addition it served 200 people through the homeless programs and provided housing support to 200 individuals with mental illness.
The shame is that this is not enough. There still is more demand for assistance than we can meet. In looking back, I can thank the spirit and persistence of those who started our agency. In looking forward, my staff and I are gratified we can continue their task of helping those with a brain injury develop a better quality of life.
We are proud of our past and dedicated to providing a better future for our clients.
David Head, CEO
South Okanagan Similkameen Brain Injury Society