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Promotional Profiles: Krempels Center

Client: Krempels Center, 2010

The Krempels Center, an organization designed to provide support for brain-injured clients, needed three short client profiles to accompany their annual fundraising brochure. I’ve worked with the center on several of these projects.

CHARLENE LISTER: The last thing Charlene Lister, 48, remembers before she lost consciousness was a rearing horse and a 12-foot metal gate yanked out of its cement footings, swinging wildly Then she blacked out. After 13 stitches in the emergency room, the doctor sent her home, proclaiming it a miracle that she was alive.

Lister went back to work after the accident, but nothing was quite right. Noises and bright lights bothered her. She couldn’t remember words. She got lost driving home. Sometimes she had to pull over to sleep she was so tired. And she started having seizures. Finally, a neurologist helped diagnose Lister’s brain injury—and a service provider helped her find her way to Krempels Center. “I didn’t like it at first,” admits Lister, who had worked for years as a special education aide. “I couldn’t stand thinking of myself as someone with special needs.”

Slowly, though, she got hooked. Lister loved the Brainpower Group—the word puzzles and activities were absorbing and challenging. She bought a camera and became passionate about photography. This year one of her winter scenes is featured on the new 2010 Krempels boxed holiday cards. Most important of all, she says, was the grief counseling offered by Krempels Center. “I did a lot of crying I never thought was there.”

These days, Lister loves sharing her story with others. “Telling your story over and over helps you deal with who you are,” she says. Her biggest piece of advice? “You have to live in the moment.” And, like photography, if you can stay totally focused just on the moment, sometimes, when all the conditions are right, you can create something beautiful.

VALERIE VEASY: When Zoe Veasey was at the hospital, coming to terms with her daughter Valerie’s brain injury, her first instinct was to arm herself with research, to learn what lay ahead. But the first words she read made her heart sink: Brain injuries are devastating for families. “I had to close the book,” says Veasey.

As her daughter emerged from nine months of intensive rehab, Veasey started taking her for short visits to the Krempels Center. “It was a great support to attend myself,” says Veasey, who gained strength for the long road ahead during those early visits. Now, a decade later, Valerie is a regular at Krempels, where she especially loves anything athletic, including basketball and tennis.

Valerie’s family is thrilled with the community at Krempels and the stimulation it provides for her. “We felt a huge sense of relief to find that this organization was out there,” says Carolyn Jackson, Valerie’s sister. With help from the Krempels Center (“especially the fabulous staff,” says Jackson), Valerie and her family found the support they needed to transform “devastating” into healing—and to begin the transition to a new life.

JIM SCOTT: Jim Scott, 28, doesn’t miss a beat when someone asks what the Krempels Center has meant to him. “Rehab teaches you how to function,” he says. “Krempels teaches you how to live again.”

Scott needed that help after his car accident. “I really had trouble accepting my new life,” he says, recalling the years of grueling therapy, struggling to feed himself, learning to walk again. “After a brain injury, your purpose is shattered.” Krempels Center, he says, helped him find a new purpose.

“I want to be a helping professional now,” says Scott, who had been working in the field of finance before his injury. “Before, I just wanted to take, but now I want to give.” He’s been inspired by the people he’s met at Krempels Center. “I loved it from the moment I walked in,” says Scott who’s been coming three days a week from the beginning. “I’ve never had a bad day here,” he says. “It’s a magical place.

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