Tag Archives: traumatic brain injury

A True Self-Advocate

You can hear Chris Thomas before you see him. His laugh is loud, genuine and contagious. Thomas’ entire aura is one of positivity and light-heartedness. Though he’s experienced many things, Thomas doesn’t seem to let the outside world affect him. Years ago, Thomas was in a car accident that resulted in traumatic brain injury. The accident completely changed the course Thomas’ life. He was in and out of hospitals and rehabilitation facilities before he finally was able to live on his own.

Once on his own, Thomas struggled financially. Acquiring a job was difficult with his disability, so income was minimal. However, Thomas found a resource that has helped many individuals with disabilities over the years: The Independence Center. Jeff H., our benefits coordinator, assisted Thomas in applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), even accompanying Thomas to the Social Security building to assist in the paperwork process. Not only did Henderson help Thomas acquire SSDI, but food stamps and transportation through Amblicab as well.

“To watch Chris leave the sheltered environment of his home and return to society by overcoming his disability should inspire others to reach out and determine their own paths,” Henderson said.

Benefit assistance was just one stepping stone in Thomas’ journey to independence. After working with Thomas, Henderson introduced him to Kevin C., our peer mentor specialist and facilitator of the traumatic brain injury (TBI) support group. Through this introduction, Thomas and Corrigan formed a relationship that led to a path of self-advocacy and growth.

“Chris has truly come out of his shell,” Kevin said. “Rather than isolating himself in his apartment, he enjoys taking Metro Mobility to do his own shopping, pursuing his passion for cars, and regularly participating in our TBI support group.”

Thomas is now moving on to yet another resource here: employment. He has started working with our employment coordinator. Thomas is a prime example of what a self-advocate for independence is and how far an individual can come with determination and a great attitude.

“If I hadn’t started coming to The Independence Center then I wouldn’t have much of a life, “Thomas said. “It’s better to give than receive, and I feel like the Independence Center has given me so much.”

What Our Support Groups Offer: Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

The Independence Center provides numerous support groups for those who are in need of guidance, assistance, and a welcoming and friendly environment.  The support groups are a part of our Independent Living program, which provides the information and encouragement for people to believe they can create the life they want and provide training and support to accomplish their goals.

The Independence Center offers a variety of support groups including: Cross – Disabilities, Deaf Chat Exchange, Traumatic Brain Injury, Older Individuals with Blindness and a Women’s Cross Disability Support Group.


Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI):

The Traumatic Brain Injury support group offers a positive, friendly, accepting environment where people with a history of TBI can gather to offer each other support. The group takes a realistic and optimistic approach to the experiences, circumstances, and problems relevant to TBI.

One major issue that the group always addresses is working. Many people believe that you cannot work after a TBI, but that is not the case. The group also addresses other misconceptions that come along with TBI’s, and offer complete confidentially as well.

“People with TBI’s sometimes have situations that are difficult, embarrassing or strange to talk about. There’s no judgment here,” Kevin Corrigan, Peer Mentor Specialist, said.

The group is very welcoming of those interested in learning about or wanting to share their experiences with TBI’s as well, and is free. This group prides itself on being open, compassionate, welcoming, supportive, and fun as well.

“It’s a great group of people that support and understand each others stories,” Lorelei Walthall, intern and group leader.

“Seeing smiles on people faces. Brain injury can be such a lonely and painful process to recover from so seeing people smile is very rewarding. You know that they’ve achieved comfort and enjoyment and they may not have seen that in a long time,” Corrigan said.

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