For Mary Martha Stinnett, her work as development director at the Brain Injury Network of Dallas (BIND) is more than just a job.  She is also the caregiver for her husband, Ed, who is the survivor of an incident that caused traumatic brain injury. So Mary Martha has many reasons to promote BIND and work tirelessly to ensure the group’s success.

BIND was established in 2011 by executive director Valerie Gotcher, and the group received its nonprofit status in early 2012. BIND is a working training center for adult survivors of acquired brain injury.  The BIND Clubhouse – as the members call the work-centered office in Plano – supports the survivors once they have finished medical rehabilitation and are working to reintegrate back into independent community living.

BIND’s mission is to provide the tools and a bridge of support to adult survivors of brain injury so that they can reconnect into life, the community, and the workplace.

Mary Martha is a certified fundraising executive.  Prior to her work with BIND, she worked in the Houston community serving Goodwill Industries, the San Jacinto Girl Scout Council, the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, and the Alzheimer’s Association.

“Our vision is to lead the DFW area in providing member-driven services and serving as the model for brain injury ‘clubhouses’ across the state of Texas,” said Mary Martha.

BIND serves the DFW area as the only provider of a peer-to-peer mentoring program called Peer Partners.

Trained brain injury survivors and caregivers offer positive support and resource facilitation to others who are experiencing adjustment challenges following acquired brain injury,” explained Mary Martha.  “These mentors play an important role in the BIND program, giving support and caring for others daily from a ‘been there, done that’ point of view. In addition, monthly, the BIND members volunteer their time at various rehabilitation facilities in the area mentoring the new patients in support groups.”

The BIND Clubhouse is not a traditional rehabilitation facility, because it revolved around a work-centered day rather than treatment groups or therapy.  Members build vocational skills, increase self-esteem and develop confidence in their ability to contribute productively. Members are encouraged to consider BIND as their daily job.

“Our members were thrilled this week when one of the members was interviewed, hired, and soon returned into the workforce,” said Mary Martha.

BIND is powered by generous donors and a dedicated group of volunteers.

“BIND could not survive without its volunteers!” said Mary Martha.  “BIND members work regularly with BIND volunteers in all aspects of the BIND activities: fundraising events, special Clubhouse events, wellness programs, arts program, brain injury walks and more. The volunteers and members are a team.”

Seeing the need for the services that BIND provides, many trained speech therapists, physical therapists and occupational therapists volunteer their time on the BIND board of directors and at the center working with members, not in a therapist role, but as a friend supporting a survivor who is working towards recovery and community living.

“There is also always a need for specially-trained volunteers, too,” said Mary Martha.

Kimberly Ridout of Frisco is a physical therapist who has volunteered with BIND since early 2015. She currently volunteers as a wellness coordinator with the group, working with members on weekly wellness-related activities and collaborating with members on planning, participating in or hosting several wellness-related events throughout the year.

“I am there as a facilitator, helping guide member-driven programs and activities.  A portion of my time spent at BIND each week consists of leading an activity segment, whether it be a walking group or a strength or balance session,” she said.

“BIND provides supportive services for adult survivors of stroke and brain injury, joining the gap between medical rehabilitation with independent community living,” explained Ridout.  “BIND’s mission is to provide brain injury survivors the opportunity for lifelong, functional gains across all areas of recovery.”

During a recent wellness day event where the BIND facility was open to the public, Ridout said she was proud and honored to listen to members talk about their experiences at BIND.

“I remember sitting back listening to the members talk,” she said.  “I examined everything that they had prepared for the day, from blood pressure checks to fall-risk screening, to yoga, to healthy recipes, to educational tidbits showcasing healthy lifestyles. I felt so proud and honored to work with these members.  What was represented that day was passion. A group of members that are passionate about sharing with others their experiences and educating the community not just on brain injury, but life following brain injury…a life that is full, productive and powerful.”

Cheri Morrow of Corinth used to live next door to BIND founder Gotcher.  Morrow has a special interest in BIND’s services because her sister experienced a traumatic brain injury in a car accident 41 years ago.

Morrow focuses her volunteer efforts for BIND on the group’s annual fundraising luncheon and other special events.

“I talk about BIND as much as possible to anyone who will listen!” said Morrow.  “I have witnessed firsthand the growth and confidence BIND has instilled in our traumatic brain injury survivors and cannot even imagine where they would be without it.  Our clubhouse is changing lives to integrate back into the community by learning new skills for work or volunteering.  Volunteering is my way of paying it forward, and I encourage others to join in, because I promise it will change your life!”

BIND is planning to open its facility three to five days per week in 2016 and is seeking dedicated volunteers with skills working in supported employment, added Mary Martha.  The center is currently only open one day per week.

“Another group of core volunteers are caregivers and those lay public men and women who have an interest in brain health and rehabilitation…perhaps after a family member or friend suffers a stroke, brain tumor or other acquired brain injury,” she said..

Volunteers also plan and execute special events and fundraising campaigns and spread the news of BIND. This month a special program, “Brain Hope for Brain Health: Resilience and Regeneration” will be presented  Saturday, October 24 at the Marriott Plano. For more information contact Valerie Gotcher at valerie@thebind.org.

“BIND is always looking for opportunities to speak to civic clubs, women’s groups and church groups telling them about BIND’s services and needs,” said Mary Martha.

BIND’s volunteers have donated an average of 500 hours of service to the group each year.

“As a volunteer all my life and then taking it one step further by becoming a professional involved with volunteers, I would strongly advocate for anyone to look to their passions and become involved,” said Mary Martha.

“As a caregiver, I was already very interested in how to help my husband get better,” she added.  “Today, there are over 146,000 brain injuries in the state of Texas. We must find ways to connect with the survivors and their caregivers. This is the reason that I was so thrilled when Valerie Gotcher called and asked me to help and serve as the group’s director of development.  I was able to use all the past volunteer and professional experience that I gained to help move BIND forward.  BIND is a solution for the survivor when they have finished all their therapies and rehabilitation.  A survivor may check out BIND and become a working member relearning skills, reconnecting with the community, and hopefully reconnecting in the workforce.

Ridout encourages everyone to become volunteer in the community in some way.

“It is easy to become a consumer in the community, enjoying all of the benefits without giving back,” she said.  “What would happen if each person refocused their effort on becoming a contributor within their community? Can you imagine what could be accomplished?”

For more information, go to www.thebind.org.

Interested in volunteering at BIND?

Contact BIND Executive Director Valerie Gotcher, valerie@thebind.org or call 972-769-2463.

Amy Sandling Crawford

Amy Sanding Crawford is a frequent contributor to Plano Profile Magazine. An accomplished communications professional who knows how to craft and deliver messages that produce results, Amy also serves...