Vicki Shepherd was taken aback on Wednesday afternoon when the class she was teaching at the Prince George Brain Injured Group was suddenly interrupted for an impromptu news conference.
Shepherd quickly found out that it was because she had recently won an Award of Merit from the Brain Injury Association of Canada.
"It's pretty overwhelming," she said moments after receiving her plaque in front of a large gathering of clients, staff and board members.
"I don't feel I should be singled out because we work as a team. We just do what needs to be done to help survivors."
The award recognizes the leadership Shepherd has shown and acknowledges that she "made significant contributions to advance the cause of acquired brain injury in Canada."
The Prince George Brain Injured Group (PGBIG) was also honoured by the national body with a Special Recognition Award which is handed out annually to "an individual, group or organization for their outstanding support, devotion or friendship to advance the cause of brain injury in Canada."
In her 18 years working at the Prince George Brain Injured Group, Shepherd has helped to develop and administer programs for people recovering from a brain injury, train staff and work with staff and clients in both group home and community care settings.
A registered nurse, Shepherd first got interested in working with people with brain injuries when she met someone with the condition when she was working on a psychiatric ward.
"I'd never talked to anyone who had a brain injury," she said.
"It was fascinating listening to hear and what had changed and how she didn't understand what going home meant."
She eventually got on with the Prince George Brain Injured Group where she developed a six-month program for brain injury survivors which is now used across the province and internationally.
The program teaches people how the brain works, what happens when it gets injured and what can be done to promote recovery. Shepherd constantly updates the material as new information becomes available.
"The feedback that I've gotten is what I teach is only the small part, the best part is what I've learned from the survivors themselves and what they teach each other," Shepherd said.
Shepherd said she enjoys her work and the community atmosphere that surrounds staff, survivors and family members of survivors at PGBIG.
"I love it here, the people are awesome," she said.
"Brain injury is fascinating and the people as they learn and grow and enrich themselves and move forward, that's the reward."