This year, the Prince George Brain Injured Group (BIG) is celebrating its 25th anniversary and the woman who helped start this incredible community organization is a nominee for the 2013 Citizen of the Year.
Before Alison Hagreen began working with PGBIG, there were few resources available in Prince George to help residents trying to recover from the effects of a life-changing brain injury. Now there is a 24-hour group home for five clients and an organization of 12 employees that help more than 300 residents each year. The difference between PGBIG and other brain injury groups is its holistic approach - PGBIG doesnt just offer help to the brain injured but to their friends and family, and even medical professionals, with education and rehabilitative programs.
When there have been no immediate alternatives, Alison has taken brain injury survivors into her own home. She has given food out of her fridge and money out of her pocket to help long-term sufferers of brain injury. Alison has spent evenings and weekends getting PGBIG clients to the bus station to travel out of town for medical and rehab appointments. She is here when we leave at night, wrote nurse Vicki Shepherd in her nomination letter, and she is here when we come back in the morning. Another nominee suggested a conservative estimate of Alisons extra time put in on top of her regular hours as PGBIGs executive director over the last 25 years was 17,500 hours. Thats nearly nine years in a regular week of extra service.
A past president of the B.C. Brain Injury Association, she currently serves as the volunteer director of the Northern Brain Injury Association, a group she helped found in 2003, and is a board member of the Community Plan Against Homelessness. She has also been involved with PARTY (Prevention of Alcohol and Risk-related Trauma in Youth), the Direct Care Training Society, Handycircle, and ASAP (Active Support Against Poverty). At CNC, she has volunteered on the long-term care and home support worker advisory committee, the social service worker curriculum review committee and the special needs advisory committee. At AimHi, Alison has worked on the external review committee and continues to serve on the policy review committee.
Don Callaghan, a retired director for Area G for the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George who continues to recover from a brain injury, said one of the big problems with acquired brain injury lies beyond the acute stage, after the efforts of the hospital staff and the physicians have run their course. Its called living.
Thats where Alison Hagreen comes in and its those efforts that make her a perfect nominee for the 2013 Citizen of the Year.