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Brain Injury Services Honors Volunteers and Community Partners

“Chantilly-based HomeWorks Painting was recognized for donating $5,000 to the pediatric program at Brain Injury Services in Springfield. Front row from left, Alex Wright and Charlotte Wright of Centreville, Erwin Simbulan and brain injury survivor Maya Simbulan of Fairfax. Back from left, HomeWorks owner Mike Katounas of Centreville and BIS pediatric case manager Brooke Annessa of Fairfax.”

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How to Avoid Volunteer Burnout and Dominate Doing Good

Doing good in the world can be downright exhausting if you let it. But when you’re on top of your game and giving it all you’ve got in a productive way, you optimize the amount of awesome you’re putting out into the world.

Let’s make sure you’re getting the most out of your volunteer experience and avoiding the inevitable burnout that will happen if you don’t listen to the warning signs.

Set Goals and Reevaluate
First, determine what you want out of your volunteer experience. While “doing good in the world” is a great goal, that’s the same goal most people have. Be more specific! What do you hope to accomplish? What outcome would make you feel the best, and better the organization? Figure that out and consider writing it down somewhere.

Then, remember to reevaluate your goals after you’ve been volunteering for awhile. Sometimes it’s hard to gauge goals at the beginning of a venture, and reevaluating is always an important part of the process.

Be Vocal
Speaking up isn’t always easy, especially if you’re a newcomer to an organization. But if something isn’t working for you, there’s no shame in letting the organization know. It’ll work out better for you and for the organization to make sure you’re in a role where you’re contributing the most.

Be upfront about the types of tasks you like and are good at from the get-go. If you’re doing something that you love and that you excel at, you’ll be more likely to avoid burnout from helping an organization that you love in a task that you don’t.

Know Your Limits
Sometimes, plain and simple, you need a break. As much as you might be against it, saying ‘no’ to a task is not the end of the world. You can always volunteer to help find somebody who can help take on the task if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Plus, if you’re feeling bogged down in a certain volunteer position, switch it up and do something else for awhile. Make sure to listen to what your mind and body are telling you about your limits.

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Ramp Up for National Volunteer Month

Let’s talk about how you can make sure you’re ready to celebrate and contribute to National Volunteer Month when it rolls around next week.

Take Charge of Volunteer Celebrations
Many organizations would love to provide perks for their volunteers. Unfortunately, many organizations are also short on staff and time. Help out by offering to organize an event in April to honor volunteers. Here are some low-cost options to suggest:

  • Organize a Potluck Volunteer Celebration
  • Create Volunteer Awards to Distribute
  • Call and Thank Volunteers with a Personal Message
  • Surprise an Outstanding Volunteer with Organization-Wide Recognition

These are just a few fun and low-cost ways you can participate. Don’t be afraid to get creative with your volunteer month celebrations.

Expose Yourself to a New Cause
There’s nothing like broadening your horizons. National Volunteer Month is a great reason to step outside of your comfort zone. Continuing to volunteer for the same organization or cause is great. However, there might be something that you’re missing.

Step outside of the box during National Volunteer Month. Think about the types of topics that inspire you and find a corresponding organization. Trust us—there are organizations out there for absolutely everything. You just need to do some searching to find them.

Try a New Role
There are always more ways to be involved at organizations than what meets the eye. Nonprofit staff might not know all of your skills. That’s why you should schedule a meeting with a nonprofit staff member to talk about other ways that you might be able to contribute. Skills that could be applicable to any organization include:

  • Design Skills
  • Writing Skills
  • Data Analyzation
  • Accounting/Legal Advice

What else could you be contributing to your favorite organization that would help them thrive?

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10 Tips to a Positive, Purposeful Day

If you long for more meaning and purpose in your life, are a victim of your snooze alarm, or wish you felt greater fulfillment at the close of each day, pay careful attention to your mornings. Here are 10 simple ideas to consider from Dr. Christi Hegstad, a certified coach and contributor to HuffingtonPost.com:

Give thanks. Nothing beats starting the day with gratitude. Have you experienced a work success recently? Did your child have a great day at school yesterday? Is the sun rising, meaning you’ve been given the gift of another day? We have much for which to be thankful, and beginning your day in a place of gratitude instantly raises your mood and emotional state.

Journal. Even if you don’t consider yourself a journaler, putting pen to paper for even a few minutes can clear your mind and support your wellbeing.

Read inspirational text.
Choose a devotional, poetry, or a few pages from an enlightening book – anything that inspires you.

Move. The options here are endless: go for a run, engage in a yoga practice, do a series of situps and pushups, or simply wake up your limbs with some gentle stretching.

Meditate. How amazing would it feel to clear your mind from constant chatter? Health experts, athletes, physicians, spiritual teachers and more boast the effects of meditation, and beginning your day with it can increase your likelihood of returning back to it throughout the day, too. Consider a class or a guided meditation app to get started.

Visualize. Create a mental picture for your ideal day, year, or life, then dwell on it for a few moments each morning.

Savor the silence. How often throughout your day do you get to experience true silence? No phones, no email notifications, no interruptions? Simply sitting in the silence, or combining it with prayer or admiring something of beauty, can be a rare gift these days.

Set your daily intention. As you think about the day ahead, with its various activities and interactions, how do you want to carry yourself? Choose a word that represents who and how you want to be throughout the day, then call it to mind frequently.

Review your “Best You.” Who are you at your very best? Capture it onto paper and take a moment to review this each morning. Create a one-page document that holds your vision statement, purpose statement, guiding principles, values and goals. A quick scan of this each morning provides a centering effect.

Step outside. Look up at the sky, and take a few deep breaths. Remind yourself of the vastness of the world, the beauty that surrounds us, and the good fortune of another day to make a difference in the world.

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7 Keys to Finding Your Inner Happiness

If you’re a walking, breathing human being, then you know that life can be hectic – throwing us curveballs when we don’t expect them. Next time the going gets tough, remember these keys to finding your inner happiness from Entrepreneur.com:

Envision the very best. If you want something in life, the first step is to envision it. You will never achieve a goal that you can’t see yourself reaching. It doesn’t matter what you are going after in life: a career change, personal relationship, business goal or materialistic object. You have to first have the courage to see those goals happening and believe in yourself.

Understand that there is no such thing as perfection. None of us live in a perfect world. If you think that striving for perfection, in your personal or professional life, will lead to happiness, you will be running in circles and eventually become disappointed. Individuals have flaws (which are sometimes the quirks we fall in love with), and business is filled with ups and downs. So, seek out greatness, not perfection — there is a big difference.

Learn to listen to your gut and heart. We have to make difficult decisions on a daily basis, both in our personal lives and in business. You have to learn to listen to your gut and heart. While opinions and suggestions from friends and family may be made with good intentions, you, not them, know deep down what’s going to make you happy.

Find your purpose. It’s much easier to discover your inner happiness when you get to do something every day that you love. It doesn’t always have to be for monetary reasons— many people are happy because they are part of a bigger picture or because they get to impact the lives of other people in a positive manner.

Surround yourself with other happy people. Relationships in our personal and professional lives fail when there is a toxic individual in the equation. So, put yourself together with someone that makes you smile in your personal life, and build your business with people that are also happy individuals. Joy and happiness is contagious, but so is toxicity, so be wise when choosing whom you surround yourself with.

Don’t point the blame at anyone else. It’s easy to blame someone else if you aren’t happy, but you control 100 percent of your journey. If you aren’t happy, it’s entirely on your shoulders to make the necessary changes. You will find inner happiness much sooner, once you realize this and take control.

Make time for the things and people you love. Time is our most valuable asset, and none of us can buy more of it. What we can do, though, is make sure that we make time for the things and people we love. Set aside time for your hobbies and personal escapes that bring you joy, and make time for those people in your life that you hold close to your heart.

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March is Brain Injury Awareness Month

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month! Brain Injury Services has been assisting children and adult survivors of traumatic brain injury, stroke, and concussion for over 26 years in Northern Virginia. Share this story with someone you know and let ask them to visit our website to learn more about our programs and how to support survivors of brain injury in our community at www.braininjurysvcs.org.

When Quentin’s mother Teresa inquired about bringing her son home from a children’s nursing facility, no one was able to offer her a solution. You should hear this story.

Teresa was facing what many families often encounter during a time of crisis. She didn’t know where to begin, how to ask for help, or how to cope with a drastic change in her life. All she knew is that she wanted to transition her medically fragile little boy back home. Most deemed it “impossible.”

Her son Quentin had survived a serious traumatic brain injury when he was less than a year old and the complexity of his medical state carried a lot of unknowns. No one thought he could be moved from the facility. That all changed when Teresa contacted Brain Injury Services.

One of our Case Managers from our Pediatric Case Management Program, Brooke Annessa, worked with Teresa to carefully orchestrate the transition home. This process included medical training along with a process of setting up community supports. Brooke also helped Teresa move into a new home which was more accessible for Quentin. She set up waiver services and in-home nursing care to ensure Quentin’s safety and the family’s comfort while caring for him. On the day of discharge from the facility, Brooke followed Quentin’s ambulance home, the ambulance she helped to coordinate to make the final move back to his family possible.

Today Quentin has been home for five years and he is thriving! Brooke supported his mother’s efforts to enroll him in public school where he attends full-time. The environment and education he is receiving is helping him as he is showing increased awareness and improved attention span.

Quentin’s mother credits Brain Injury Services with bringing her son home saying, “Without Brain Injury Services – without Brooke – we wouldn’t be here. We wouldn’t be home. He would not be in school. I wouldn’t have a son. To see him thriving and doing so well… It’s amazing” – Teresa Hammonds