Impact Stories

FedPoint Plants the Seed for Growth at KBIC 

A therapeutic gardening program blossoms at the center for brain injury survivors. 

Finding effective programs to actively engage brain injury survivors is a key priority at the David Krempels Brain Injury Center (KBIC). When our programs are designed by clinically licensed staff, they are often only ideas until they are adequately funded.  

Earlier this year, KBIC staff met with global insurance administrator, FedPoint to discuss funding needs at the center that might align with FedPoint’s Community Giving Program initiatives. This was the very moment the seed for a KBIC gardening program was planted. Conversations that followed led to FedPoint generously donating a garden for brain injury survivors that now beautifies the front of our building on Community Campus in Portsmouth, NH. 

 

When we had an opportunity to come and work with Krempels [KBIC] we saw a lot of parallels between our business and what we’re trying to do and what KBIC does for their members,” said Brian Frankenfield, director of corporate giving at FedPoint. “I want to thank KBIC for what they do and for this opportunity to further our mission through them.

FedPoint’s leadership in corporate philanthropy sparked other local businesses to contribute to the project as well. In addition to FedPoint’s donation, the new gardening program received several donations of plants, soil, gloves and tools from local businesses including Home Depot, Stout Oak Farm, Chinburg Builders, Aubuchon and Target. This collaborative effort brought together volunteers, several staff and KBIC members to install four raised, wheelchair accessible garden beds in front of the center. 

Brain injury survivors that attend KBIC now meet regularly for the “Grow Your Own Way” program to engage in the joy of gardening and outdoor learning.  

Weekly gardening sessions are led by volunteer and UNH Cooperative Extension Master Gardener, Cris Purdum. The dedication of volunteers like Cris is vital to the program’s success.  Additionally, it found that storytelling felt like having something to do and therefore felt productive.   

Everyone should have access to the benefits of gardening,” said Purdum.  This program is an opportunity for members to re-engage in a familiar occupation, she added.  As a master gardener and a retired occupational therapist, I get to bring the two together. 

The Healing Power of Gardening 

Therapeutic gardening, also known as therapeutic horticulture, leverages the nurturing and tranquil aspects of gardening to promote healing and well-being. This therapeutic approach offers numerous benefits, including physical, emotional, and psychological improvements. Engaging in gardening activities helps reduce stress, alleviate pain, and improve attention, as well as offers opportunities to work on balance and fine gross motor coordination. It provides a purposeful activity that fosters self-esteem, independence, and a sense of responsibility. By caring for plants, brain injury survivors experience a restorative connection with nature, enhancing their overall life satisfaction.  

This form of therapy is particularly effective for those recovering from a brain injury or coping with mental health challenges, as it offers a serene environment for growth and self-expression, bridging the gap between medical treatment and holistic healing. 

Therapeutic gardening interventions have shown remarkable outcomes for survivors, including increased motivation, enhanced physical functioning, and greater independence and autonomy. These benefits are significant, as they contribute to the overall well-being of brain injury survivors. 

The reported advantages of therapeutic gardening are numerous: 

  • Pain Reduction 
  • Improved Attention 
  • Stress Relief 
  • Agitation Modulation 
  • Increased Socialization 
  • Boosted Self-Esteem 
  • Enhanced Life Satisfaction 
  • Fewer Setbacks 

Empowerment Through Nature 

Brain injury survivors often experience life post-injury as a loss of control over their lives. Gardening helps restore a sense of responsibility and care, similar to having more control over one’s life and healing journey. This responsibility boosts self-esteem, aids in accepting health conditions, and improves attitudes toward self-care. Consequently, patients feel more empowered and in control. 

Today, we can offer this opportunity of empowerment to our members at KBIC because of the generosity and thoughtfulness of FedPoint. We had a shared vision that all came together last month at the center. It was a true community effort and a memorable day for our organization. 

A Day to Remember 

On Monday, May 6, FedPoint volunteers, KBIC staff and brain injury survivors worked to install four raised, wheelchair accessible garden beds. Later that day, the “Grow Your Own Way” group met to install soil and plant flowers while learning about gardening. 

“Thanks to the wonderful donations made by FedPoint between the resources and the manpower, we’re able to provide programs for our members that we’ve only ever dreamt of before today,” said Nick Ho, CTRS Program Specialist at KBIC. 

Part of our mission is to connect our members not just within the center community, but in the broader community as well. With FedPoint’s support on May 6th to execute this garden project we had an opportunity to really create a space for our members to engage with people outside of the center.  

Support and Community 

“The impact of our corporate partners is immeasurable,” said Ashley Healy, Director of Development. “This project expanded our programming and gave our members a sense of community. It showed them that others care, making it a great day for KBIC!” 

 A few weeks later, the KBIC garden is blooming with colorful flowers that bring joy to anyone that walks in and out of the building. 

Maintaining KBIC as a place where brain injury survivors can heal and thrive relies on many factors: dedicated staff, appropriate equipment, committed volunteers, and community support. The contributions from our corporate partners, volunteers and donors help provide the resources needed for our members to excel.

A Special Thank You to Our Garden Supporters 

Let’s Talk Radio Podcast 

KBIC members learn the importance of the pause. 

“This group is about talking and listening,” said Nick Ho, CTRS Program Specialist at KBIC, kicking off the first “Let’s Talk Radio” Podcast program of the spring semester. “Through research, we’ve found that narrative storytelling and the peer-to-peer interview format can be beneficial to supporting personal recovery following an acquired brain injury.” 

 The “Let’s Talk Radio” podcast program at KBIC, spearheaded by Nick Ho, has become a beloved platform for members to engage in narrative storytelling and peer-to-peer interviews, particularly focusing on personal recovery following acquired brain injury. The success of the program stems from its emphasis on communication, validation, self-reflection, and productivity, as supported by research in neuropsychological rehabilitation. 

 A 2017 study published in the Neuropsychological Rehabilitation  journal found that participation in personal narrative storytelling supported development of a strengths-based identity through communicating with others, feeling validated as someone listens to their story, as well as self-reflecting during their storytelling. Additionally, it found that storytelling felt like having something to do and therefore felt productive.   

 Each semester, the group explores a specific theme, with last year’s focus being “perspectives from brain injury survivors.” As they gather for the spring semester, the group deliberates on potential themes, aiming to continue their journey of exploration and support. 

 Today, Eryn Martin, a brain injury survivor and host of the “Making Headwaypodcast, joins the group to share her experiences and insights, emphasizing the iterative nature of podcasting and the importance of self-acceptance. 

The group asks Eryn questions about recording her own podcast. Nick then plays a short clip from one of her episodes. Eryn shares that the sicker you feel, the harder you’re going to critique yourself.   

Nick then offers to play a recording of an interview between two KBIC members who had participated in the group last year. After listening to the 1-minute clip, Nick stops the recording and asked the group what they had noticed about the conversation.  

 One member asks if the clip could be edited to lengthen the pauses between the two people talking in order to slow it down.  

 

“We need that pause,” said David Burbank, a KBIC member, jumping in to share his thoughts. “Most people in our world ignore the pause, he added, but here [KBIC] I am amongst people of my own kind.” 

 

David, a former successful salesman for Nestle, spent years covering the New Hampshire region, interacting with prospects and clients most days. Now post-injury he says he goes at a different pace. 

 “One thing I love about KBIC is when you come here, life slows down,” David said. “Everything’s made simpler here [KBIC].” 

 Overall, the “Let’s Talk Radio” podcast program serves as a valuable platform for KBIC members to share their stories, connect with others, and navigate their journeys of recovery and self-discovery. 

We want to thank our loyal donors who support KBIC and fund our programs like the “Let’s Talk Radio” podcast. The financial support ensures the continuation of the program, covering startup costs and ongoing expenses. THANK YOU to all of our loyal donors who make these programs possible!