Dave Johnston brings his wife, Maureen, to Let’s Connect as part of her recovery from a stroke. (Warren Goulding/Citizen)

Dave Johnston brings his wife, Maureen, to Let’s Connect as part of her recovery from a stroke. (Warren Goulding/Citizen)

Cowichan Brain Injury Society struggling; break-in makes things worse

“Sometimes it seems like I take one step forward and two back”

It’s not easy being an advocate and caregiver for an underfunded organization. And some days are just a little harder than they should be.

“Sometimes it seems like I take one step forward and two back,” concedes Chris Rafuse, the driving force behind the Cowichan Brain Injury Society.

Operating as Let’s Connect, the organization has existed for about six years and relies on private funding (including Rafuse’s own substantial contributions) and donations from charitable organizations. Currently, Let’s Connect is working with about 100 men and women who have suffered some type of brain injury, offering rehab programs and socialization.

The latest setback came on the weekend when a thief broke into the carving shed and made off with an electric chainsaw, three electric sanders, extension cords and other items. The burglar made off with a battery-powered scooter but had to abandon it on Cairnsmore when it ran out of power.

Most disappointing was the loss of a mask being carved by master carver Rupert Scow. It was a commissioned piece and Scow, who has been leading the Let’s Carve program at the Banks Road facility for several months, says he was counting on the sale for his Christmas money.

“It would have been done in five days,” says Scow, who is recovering from a stroke himself as he works with other men who are coping with the affects of a brain injury.

“But you have to take the good with the bad,” he says, holding a new mask that he is working on.

“Of all the masks they could have taken, they had to take the one that was sold,” Rafuse says of the transformation mask, Scow had almost ready to be painted.

Meanwhile, Rafuse and Cowichan Brain Injury Society president Linda Roseneck are grappling with funding issues and looking for a new location for the program.

“We’ve got 900 square feet now and we could use three times that,” suggests Rafuse. “I get one or two calls a week and we need more space. The program is growing fast.”

The Society would like to have room for its successful Let’s Carve program and a 16 foot totem pole. Rafuse says working with brain injured people requires spaces that are private with minimal distractions as people attempt to regain speech and motor skills.

“The theft strikes a blue note for us, especially at this time of year,” Roseneck says.

“We may have to scale back some of our programs but our regular Let’s Connect drop-in and other programs such as Let’s Talk and Let’s Do Art will continue,”she said.

“We have outgrown our current location and must move before March 2020. We are applying for a federal charitable designation but this could take a year or more before we can receive funding for our brain injury program.”

Roseneck and Rafuse say the waiting list for things like speech therapy for stroke patients is long.

“A desperate husband called to have his wife participate in our Let’s Talk program because they were advised it is a one-year wait for speech therapy,” says Roseneck.

Dave Johnston is bringing his wife, Maureen, to Let’s Connect after she suffered a stroke on Sept. 18.

“She’s improving rapidly,” Johnston says of the life-changing medical crisis.

“I recognized almost right away what was happening thanks to all the commercials you see on TV,” he smiles, as his wife participates in a board game.

If you would like to help Let’s Connect, contact Chris Rafuse at 250-466-5872 or admin@cowichanbraininjury.org.

The organization has created a GoFundMe to help them to replace their stolen tools. Receipts will be provided for donations. Search for CBIS Let’s Carve Tool Replacement Fund at www.gofundme.com.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Chris Rafuse with the scooter that was recovered after a break-in at the centre on the weekend. (Warren Goulding/Citizen)

Chris Rafuse with the scooter that was recovered after a break-in at the centre on the weekend. (Warren Goulding/Citizen)

Chris Rafuse with the scooter that was recovered after a break-in at the centre on the weekend. (Warren Goulding/Citizen)

Chris Rafuse with the scooter that was recovered after a break-in at the centre on the weekend. (Warren Goulding/Citizen)

Just Posted

The Cowichan Valley Arts Council is offering courses in drawing May through August 2021. (Submitted)
A&E column: Art is everywhere in the Cowichan Valley

What’s going in the Cowichan Valley arts and entertainment community

The CVRD introduces new app to contact residents during emergencies, a tool that chairman Aaron Stone says will improve communications. (File photo)
CVRD launches new app to spread information during emergencies

Cowichan Alert is a free app that can be downloaded onto smartphones, computers

A B.C. Centre for Disease Control map showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 25-May 1. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 case counts continue to trend down

Fewer than 200 active cases on the Island, down from highs of 500-plus earlier this spring

The Malahat SkyWalk will open to visitors in July 2021. (Malahat SkyWalk photo)
Malahat SkyWalk will open to visitors this July

Highly anticipated attraction will take guests 250m above sea level

FILE PHOTO
Editorial: Time to roll up our sleeves and pitch in

They’re just not quite sure they want to get a vaccine — yet

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C.’s first electric school bus making the rounds in Victoria suburbs

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

Victoria police say the photo they circulated of an alleged cat thief was actually a woman taking her own cat to the vet. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Photo of suspected cat thief released by Victoria police actually just woman with her pet

Police learned the she didn’t steal Penelope the cat, and was actually taking her cat to the vet

The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Louis S. St-Laurent sails past a iceberg in Lancaster Sound, Friday, July 11, 2008. The federal government is expected to end nearly two years of mystery today and reveal its plan to build a new, long overdue heavy icebreaker for the Canadian Coast Guard. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver, Quebec shipyards to each get new heavy icebreaker, cost remains a mystery

Vancouver’s Seaspan Shipyards and Quebec-based Chantier Davie will each build an icebreaker for the coast guard

Findings indicate a culture of racism, misogyny and bullying has gripped the game with 64 per cent of people involved saying players bully others outside of the rink. (Pixabay)
Misogyny, racism and bullying prevalent across Canadian youth hockey, survey finds

56% of youth hockey players and coaches say disrespect to women is a problem in Canada’s sport

Most Read