When pondering things that return in the summer, thoughts turn to longer days, warm weather, picnics, and more. One of the best things that has returned to our main office this month has been the reopening of our Brain Injury Services. Here, individuals who have suffered brain injuries have the opportunity to establish meaningful post-injury roles and relationships. At Living Resources, we strive to educate, train, encourage, and patiently guide survivors of traumatic brain injuries and their loved ones throughout this process.

During the long COVID shutdown, this group had the opportunity to connect by Zoom every day, keeping their old schedule as much as they could. But at long last, they have returned for in-person meetings, bringing with them the sights of their smiling faces, sounds of laughter, and the aroma of meals cooking in the kitchen.

The group reflected on the past fifteen months. “I couldn’t remember that there was a pandemic going on” said Renee. “I was getting up at 5:30 in the morning, ready to walk out the door by 7:00 every morning, and my mother had to remind me there was no group because of COVID. It really upset me.” Laura agreed saying, “I felt very lonely.” Lea shared that even though she wasn’t by herself, she felt lonely because she didn’t have her peers around her.

There were some positives though. Laura was proud to share that she found a boyfriend through the ABI Zoom groups. Jorelle spent a lot of time snuggling with her cats, playing Scrabble with her boyfriend, and exercising, particularly finding peace in the Zoom Mindfulness Group. Routine was critical for her. “Every morning I would make a schedule for myself.”

When the big day finally came to return to the office, a surprise awaited the group. While everyone was quarantining at home, their space underwent a transformation. The main group room is now larger and has two entrances. Program Director Todd Del Marter said the instructors have space to comfortably move about the room to give personalized attention to each participant. There is even a new room which may be the group’s favorite. It has large windows with a nice view of outside and great natural light. Staff Amanda joked, “During group I find them staring out the window, just mesmerized by the birds and everything else.”

Dan is happy to be back meeting in person. He said, “There’s a certain level of support by communications over the internet, but I always think that meeting in person is the way to be. It’s more personal.” Renee agreed. “You can feel the energy of the crowd versus just sitting in front of a camera.” Laura summed it up with one word. Community.

Looking forward, the group is excited about their creative writing group to beginning again. Lea said, “I never realized how much stuff you can express on paper. I could probably write a hundred more stories right now.”