The NYC Chapter of BIANYS
To celebrate the New Year, today I’ve invited Angela Leigh Tucker to join TBI to LIFE. She is Chairwoman of the New York City Chapter of the Brain Injury Association of NY State (BIANYS). The Chapter offers events and resources – a place to have fun, make friends, and try new things. When I was Chair, I felt the most meaningful contribution I could make was building community. To my great pleasure we succeeded. I asked Angela to talk about the Chapter (BIA-NYC) both then and now, and tell us what she’s planning for the future. Here’s what she told me.
Angela, how did you find out about the Chapter?
When you first asked this question I truthfully did not recall how I learned about it. Then I was reminded that it was at a beloved support group run by Maggie Ornstein. I had sustained a severe TBI in a car crash that killed my husband. After some time I returned to New York City, still recovering from my injuries and looking for guidance. I did a Google search and finally found Maggie’s group. Through that small group, I found out there was a larger community of friends I could be part of.
How did you feel when you came to your first meeting?
I can’t remember the first few meetings at all. But do I understand it is difficult to walk into a room full of strangers and feel comfortable. I attended my first meeting with a few friends from the support group. We were all new to the chapter and unsure what to expect. It gave us a chance to see each other more often and had a very different vibe from the support group. The chapter meetings were more social, an opportunity to make new friends who personally understood our unique circumstances. While support groups give us a safe space to vent our feelings and receive helpful feedback, Chapter meetings are relaxed and a lighter atmosphere.
Last year you were elected Chair of the NYC Chapter. How’s it going?
When I stepped into this role I knew I’d be filling very big shoes, as Laurie Rippon served as Chairwoman before me. Laurie continues to be an important role model of what is possible after brain injury.
When I was first asked to run for Chairwoman of the Chapter, my response was “But I am still healing.” Then my dear friend Dr. Lois Tannenbaum, President of BIANYS, also asked me if I’d run. I gave her the same response. She answered, “We are all still healing Angela.” In that moment, she inspired me to try.
As Chairwoman, my goal, like Laurie’s, is to create a welcoming community. Each person strives to help anyone new to the chapter feel like they’ve come home. Our meetings are filled with people who understand firsthand the nuances and struggles that are come along with brain injury. New faces are welcome; encouraged to join our family, and leave knowing they are not alone. I affectionately refer to the group as BIA-NYC, or “bionic.” Being bionic means having electronic devices that enhance your performance. I believe, rather than artificial devices, we enhance each other’s lives through the power of friendship.
What’s coming up in 2016?
We have a very exciting year in store. Our first meeting of 2016 is on Saturday, January 16th, from 2:00 – 5:00pm, at the AHRC penthouse floor, 83 Maiden Lane between Gold St. and Williams St. in Manhattan. It will be our annual Membership Drive, where everyone is invited to become BIANYS members and reconnect after the holidays.
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Dr. Svetlana Serova from Mount Sinai Medical Center will be presenting on maintaining and establishing romantic relationships post brain injury.
March is Brain Injury Awareness Month. We will be coming together to advocate in our communities and to our legislators in Albany and in Washington, DC. We will also be screening the movie Crash Reel at the chapter meeting followed by a possible Q&A with Kevin Pearce himself!
With all the many events and activities, there is something for everyone. For the dates of our upcoming meetings, local support groups, and other events, please visit our chapter calendar.
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