My story: Our Story:
It is surreal to see BIFSTL, what it is today. As an outpatient speech therapist at Mercy back in 2008, I knew then, that there was something missing, that we were not providing to our patients once they left the HIRC program. So much preparation and education go into getting the patients “back to their life” not realizing that after they left us, some were not even living.
After 8 years inactive, BIFSTL launched in 2016 with the leadership, hard work, tenacity, and determination of Sarah Davis. BIFSTL started with my home as its address and a locked file cabinet located in Sarah’s basement. You can imagine our excitement moving into our first office, a 100 square foot, second story storage closet we rented from a law practice, we called “the bird’s nest”.
Not ready to spread our wings, we were grateful to have partnered with Job Point to start providing the needed services to our clients and our community. After 1 year under their wing, we were awarded a 3-year accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). With this new certification we were able to separate from Job Point and navigate on our own.
Within the last 3 years BIFSTL has served over 214 individuals with brain injuries in programs through MO DVR, MO DHSS, and Wounded Warrior. 161 of the 214 were referred for vocational supports and 72% returned to competitive employment. We moved into a new space with ample room for our growth. BIFSTL staff has increased from 3 employees to 9 staff dedicated to those with brain injuries. We were fortunate to have Dr. Hillel Goldstein join our team. As a psychotherapist with a specialty in brain injury he is the perfect fit. Collaboration with rehabilitation facilities, universities, volunteer sites, referral sources and employment partners has helped drive our mission
As I near my first 100 days with this organization I am grateful for the dedication of our team in serving our clients. Since May 1st we have:
- Expanded our board by adding 3 new members at large, Timothy Dalaviras, a leader in mental health services and CEO of Total Health and Productivity LLC; John Kindschuh, an attorney with Brian Cave Layton Paisner, who has served on many nonprofit boards; and Colleen Murphy, inspirational speaker, author, and mother of a daughter who sustained a brain injury. We are thankful for their commitment to BIFSTL and humbled by their acceptance of our invitation. These 3 join Kurt Steinmetz, Dina McCarty, Pat Carroll, and Doug Zippay in guiding our organization.
- We completed another CARF survey and have continued our certification.
- We have partnered with St. Louis University’s Communication Disorders Clinic for collaboration of client services as well as Clubhouse referrals and intern placements. SLU is joined by Maryville University and Fontbonne University in our existing relationships.
- Survived a catastrophic storm that condemned our building, located and moved into a temporary office space within 2 weeks and kept service “business as usual”.
I am excited to keep moving BIFSTL forward and creating lasting relationships with our community and those who need our help. We look forward to:
- Opening Dura Mater (Missouri’s only Brain Injury Clubhouse) in the Spring of 2022
- Development of the Jobs Council
- Develop educational opportunities for professionals as well as individuals who have experienced brain injury
I am extremely grateful for all who have been with us on our journey thus far. We could not have done it without you. We look forward to the future and spreading our wings.
– Patricia Nance, Executive Director of BIFSTL