Cassell & Associates of Novi, MI blog on brain injury rehabilitation and occupational therapy.
Cassell & Associates would like to give a big “Thank You!” to Studio West Gallery in Brighton for hosting “Survive & Thrive”, a benefit supporting CPAN in their efforts to preserve Michigan’s precious auto no-fault insurance. This event was held on Thursday June 19, 2014.
It was an evening of camaraderie as folks came together to support CPAN in an atmosphere of fun, which included original artwork, jewelry and crafts, many of which were made by survivors of traumatic brain injury.
Along with the artistic atmosphere, Renee Chodkowski, “The Great Foodini”, tantalized the taste buds with deliciously creative samples throughout the evening. Renee has been teaching enrichment cooking classes for over 26 years and has been recognized on “Good Morning America” and even has cooked with Gordon Ramsey on “MasterChef” (to name just a few of her accomplishments).
Here is what some of the Cassell & Associates employees have to say about their night out at this event-
“A fabulous time was had by all who attended CPAN’s annual “Survive & Thrive” benefit. In addition to viewing/purchasing spectacular works of art, we watched great cooking prep demonstrations by Renee Chodkowski, “The Great Foodini”. Who knew that sharp knives were less dangerous than dull knives? Or, that the best way to make cutting fruits and veggies that are oddly or round shaped a breeze, was to cut a small portion off of one side, to create a flat surface?” -Chelsea, Assistant Program Manager
“This was a beautiful event for a cause close to many of us. I was not only in awe of the amount of artwork on display, the diversity of the works and the different mediums used were just amazing! I must admit, the “Great Foodini” was also a favorite artist, which was certainly proved by the delectable roast beef sandwich that included bleu cheese and caramelized onions, yummy!” –Amy, Rehabilitation Assistant
“As an artist I really enjoyed looking at some other great works of art. There was also the feeling that I get when I could see others finding appreciation in my own creations that were on display. To top it off, the “Great Foodini” was terrific and I left with a recipe for some delicious mushroom soup!” –Greg, Survivor
Yoga has been a long time favorite around Cassell & Associates for about 15 years, taught during this time by our inspirational instructor, Gail. Her warm and gentle personality is as welcoming as the environment she creates for each class.
Over the years, many people were hesitant to try a class, often due to physical limitations. Gail has that special way of putting people at ease and offering reassurance that yoga can be modified to fit the needs of each individual that walks into the room. Quite often, what starts as “just come in for one trial class” is actually the beginning of a long relationship with yoga.
Some yoga participants were asked to give their thoughts on the experiences they have in our yoga program:
“When I first was told that Yoga would help me in loosening up my tight muscles I had after my first car accident, I had doubt in my heart. Then Gail introduced it to me with ease and her gentle smile and soft, relaxing voice. Many others in my class talk about the experience of being in her class and the positive changes they have seen in themselves. Every time I lay on one of her mats in a yoga class I feel my body saying: thanks ma, I needed that!” -Angela
“Yoga, with our instructor, Gail, has got to be my favorite event at Cassell and Associates.She focuses on issues that I am having, such as lower back, where she puts emphasis on what she thinks will assist in resolving the pain. At the beginning of our class, she will ask what we need to address, followed by entering the state of relaxation, which entails us laying on our back, feet up and practicing the breathing technique (in through the nose, out through the mouth). From there, she then allows us to run-through the next group of broadening our body’s movement, muscle strengthening, and balance. Within no time, she speaks out with the closing statement, which always brings both frustrations, with the class ending, but with relief, with having the pain reduced or eliminated”. –John
“Yoga was something new for me to practice; I was not sure about it, especially because it was after the accident. At the beginning it was hard for me to focus; I could focus just for a few minutes. By practicing once a week my focus continues to progress day after day. Another thing it helps me with is stretching my muscles. Before each class starts, the teacher (Gail) asks me how I am feeling today, do I have any pain, so we do exercises to stretch stiffness and relieve pain. At the end I always feel much better and I continue on my day very happy and relaxed”. -Jinan
These are the experiences of three participants out of many. In speaking with others who practice, many cited the same sort of benefits from yoga. Reports of less pain, increased focus, feelings of relaxation, increased flexibility, range of motion and increased feelings of well-being. People are often quite surprised at what they can do in yoga and the changes they notice that soon follow with regular practice.
Offering both seated and standing classes, Gail finds a way for those interested to benefit from practice. She brightens up the buildings as soon as she breezes in to set up for class. When her day here at Cassell & Associates is done I hope she feels the significant positive impact she leaves on so many individuals. To her we say, “Namaste, Gail”.
Some of us find it hard to believe that we are already into the second week of December. Long summer days seem far behind us and a few lingering leaves cling desperately to branches of trees, reminding that autumn, seemingly in the blink of an eye, has passed.
Though it is not official, many of us feel winter upon us, already nipping at our noses, chilling our toes. Daylight is dwindling quickly into lengthier nights. Winter coats, hats and mittens have made their appearance.
Along with the wonders of wintertime comes the holiday season, which goes hand in hand with one of my favorite events of the year: The Cassell & Associates Holiday Luncheon!
This event for Cassell & Associates employees will take place Tuesday, December 17th. The fun will begin at noon and runs until 3:00 p.m. If you are not scheduled to work on Tuesdays PLEASE come and join us for the party.
Aside from the amazing lunch itself, this will be a day of fun and entertainment. As we have in the past, there will be Karaoke in one area and Bingo in another and a new addition to our good times: John the Magician! Some of you may have noticed him walking around our Cassell & Associates picnic and this man is spectacular. Keep an eye out for him, he will be performing in both the Karaoke and the Bingo areas, don’t miss your opportunity to be mystified!
If you have any questions about our holiday festivities please contact our office.
One of the departments of Cassell and Associates is our Woodshop, which refurbishes and revitalizes various sort of furniture, from tables and dressers to grandfather clocks and bread boxes. Many people would not guess that some of these items were cast-off and unwanted, or donated, given new life and vitality at the hands of our talented employees. Other wood used may be scraps or bits and pieces from other projects, donated, recycled from wooden pallets or purchased for a particular project.
Some items are created from beginning to end. Beautiful butterfly houses for those winged wonders and brightly colored birdhouses that attract avian attention. Also, perhaps not for the squeamish, houses for our often under-appreciated nighttime navigators, bats. (Did you know there are nine species of insect eating bats in Michigan?). Flower-boxes that are carefully handmade and then painted in a multitude of colors, ready to burst with your favorite flowers in spring and summer.
Mike, who has been with Cassell & Associates for 13 years and Josh, our very own wizard of woodworking, brainstorm with Survivors from the very first step: Deciding what the project should be. Employees work together to visualize what each item could become. Is it a rocking chair that needs refurbishing? Could these scraps of wood be a birdhouse? Whatever the decision may be, Survivors are part of the process from the very start and play a major role in creating and designing their individual projects. Once a Survivor decides what they would like to do, they are provided guidance as needed as each step is accomplished. Physical and cognitive challenges do not present an issue; with the Woodshop collaboration and teamwork present many avenues to turn a vision into a reality.
The Woodshop is not only a place where projects are made that will be sold or auctioned at our annual picnic. Another aspect is creating assistive implements of differing type. Some jobs require items to be cut to specific lengths or a precise label placement within a small area. What better way to achieve correctness and consistency than a tool made just for that specific item? Or, perhaps a new job has arrived and could be adapted to use a one-handed technique with a specially made jig, opening even more opportunity for variety for those with physical limitations.
Whether they are sanding a desk, applying polyurethane to an antique end table or putting their heads together to construct the latest device to get a job done, the employees of the Woodshop are valued for all of their efforts and the often unique contributions they provide.
Saturday September 21st was our annual Cassell & Associates Employee – Family picnic and what a remarkable time it was, Kevin and Martha really outdid themselves this time!
Though the day started out cool and overcast, the weather quickly did a turnaround for almost picture perfect weather for a picnic.
People eagerly lined up for this year’s taste bud temptations, catered by Enzo’s Catering. The food was beyond excellent and with bellies full of chicken and brats, a divine mac n’ cheese and other items of deliciousness, the rest of the picnic carried on.
The silent auction, which featured wooden furniture refinished in our Woodshop program, was a hit again. All proceeds from the auction were donated, in memory of Bruce Cassell, to the Miracle League of Michigan, which provides children with mental and/or physical challenges an opportunity to play baseball as a team member in an organized league.
We had tents that featured a vast assortment of handmade crafts from our product, ceramics and paint groups. This was an excellent opportunity to showcase the creativity and skill of our employees. Items ranged from original paintings to teapots, hand painted mugs, made in Michigan gift baskets and various seasonal and holiday items.
Other activities included games for children and adults alike. Clowns, face painting and balloon animals, two yoga sessions and even a magic show! The groove of the band permeated the air, with some spectators watching them play; some dancing and others just enjoyed the music as it encompassed the area, the perfect soundtrack to a gorgeous day.
When asked what their favorite part of the picnic was, many people seemed to agree: having the chance to make introductions amongst family, friends and coworkers, as well as meeting new people.
One thing is for sure, there were a lot of expressions of gratitude to Kevin and Martha for hosting such a fun filled event and many of us are already looking forward to the next time.
My accident took place in 2008. I was on foot, crossing the street, when I was hit by a car driven by an uninsured motorist. Thanks to Michigan’s no-fault coverage I received top-notch care in the form of surgeries, rehabilitation and therapy. After a few years of this I was ready to continue my growth and development and Cassell & Associates was the perfect place to start.
Cassell & Associates offers a wide variety of work activities that helped with my cognitive rehabilitation, ranging from packaging to artwork to administrative responsibilities. Clients can also engage in community based work such as the Library, assisting at a senior center and Michigan’s Paralyzed Veterans of America, to name a few. I signed up for everything and I’m glad I did. Each activity provides a new opportunity for growth, learning and the joy of discovery, all of which contributed in different aspects of my rehabilitation.
Yoga offers me serenity and balance. Artwork shapes my perception of the world around me with all of its beauty and promise. Administration duties help me hone my attention to detail and organization. Newsletter Group provides me with new ideas to explore and consolidate into articles for our newsletter. The department I work in delivers a group of people who combine work, fun, teamwork and cooperation.
My life post-accident is an ongoing adventure full of change and opportunity. I am now in the process of transition from Cassell to work in the community and I am grateful to the staff for their expertise and insight as they guide me through this new challenge. With the help and vision of my Cassell “family” I know my future will be beautiful, whatever it holds.
Our talented artists who create wonders with the paintbrush are continuing to turn out beautiful and original artwork in a therapeutic setting. Many pieces are displayed brightening the buildings. Works of all types are brought into existence. These creations include the colorfully abstract, capturing the natural beauty of our state of Michigan, landscapes from around the world, works related to sports, and paintings that evoke emotion, imagination and a sense of wonder. What began with a few people working with our creative artist, Irene, has grown into several groups a week and the addition of another talented artist/instructor, Crystal.
Read below to find out what people around Cassell & Associates have to say about their experience with Paint Group:
“As an unknown artist I found that the paint group brought out my talent as a painter. It also brought me a heart full of happiness, a sense of accomplishment, and a feeling that I can do anything with a positive attitude. I feel that I CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH JUST BEING POSITIVE despite the fact that my life has changed. Crystal, who is one of the paint group instructors, has given me confidence in my artwork, and I know that when I need assistance she’ll be there. Thank you Crystal! “
“I remember I loved painting when I was younger. I painted in school and on summer break, but when I went to college I became busy with different things and forgot how much I loved artwork.
When I had my accident, my life changed 100%. I began working at Cassell & Associates and they invited me to join many groups, one of which was painting.
Crystal, one of the art instructors, helped me a lot. I had forgotten many things because it had been a long time since I had painted and I had some issues because of my accident. Crystal helped me to practice painting again; how to use colors, tools, and everything that I forgot.
My first picture was an owl and it took months to do it with the help of Crystal, but it had been sold at the Cassell and Associates picnic and I couldn’t believe it! I painted something and sold it! it. Then I painted my second and third pictures, and everyone loved them. Being at Cassell helped me to rediscover my talents, receive help and support, and discover the “new me” since my accident.
Having a skill or hobby helps me to relax and “de-stress” and this is what painting at Cassell does for me. It also teaches me not to ignore new challenges and opportunities and to take advantage of everything my “new” life offers me.”
We have had numerous survivors who have tried out our Paint Group, often hesitant to begin and gaining confidence as they continue to work through that first art piece. With the talented and therapeutic approach used by Irene and Crystal, people just want to keep coming back to their groups. Not only does painting give us that physical piece of art to view, survivors report some of the therapeutic benefits being increased self-confidence, excellent practice of motor control, hand-eye coordination and a means for creative outlet and self-expression.
Cassell & Associates is not just all about work. We also encourage healthier lifestyles with our various fitness programs. The focus is not only on the physical benefits of exercise, but also on the therapeutic value in the cognitive and social benefits.
Our Fitness Program Manager, Dave Reicher M.S., has many years of experience working with individuals who have a TBI. His enthusiasm and creativity has helped others work toward their personal fitness goals.
Below is one survivor’s (Lisa) experience in our Fitness Program.
“While in fitness you can do a number of different workouts that fit to your specific needs and to what goals you would like to achieve. There is a variety of groups I can choose to be in.
On Monday mornings Katie does the walking group which I enjoy very much, starting off my day with fresh air, exercise and chatting with my coworkers. Then on Friday mornings there are men’s and women’s basketball groups which are very fun. Sharissa runs the women’s group I am in, which is so much fun and we make it kind of like a game. Some days I do some neck stretches so that I keep up on my neck so it doesn’t get stiff. I have done Walk Away the Pounds and it has worked! I have lost nine pounds so far, through this video, Shaun T with Hip Hop Abs and the NuStep. Sharissa and I do the Shaun T with Hip Hop Abs; and I have so much fun as we are dancing away with Mr. Shaun T that it doesn’t seem like working out. Also, when on the NuStep I recently broke my record for how many steps I have done, which is now more than 2,000!
Before I started working at Cassell I never worked out. In the 2 years that I have, I have seen results in different areas. I have lost weight, gained confidence, the social aspect is very helpful to me and I feel like I am now in charge of helping myself lose weight (which is also good for my legs with the rods in them). I am also going to be doing a 5k walk/run on August 3rd for a Memorial Run, which I would not have even imagined a few years ago.”
We applaud Lisa for the hard work she has done to make positive and healthy changes and also thank her for sharing her personal experience with us.
Cassell & Associates is proud of the creativity, time and effort put into our innovative items made in our different Creative Groups.
At this time our groups, while still ensuring our two onsite gift shops are stocked with a variety of items, are also in full preparation for our upcoming Cassell & Associates employee/family picnic on Saturday September 21st, (stay tuned for more information about this fun-for-all event).
For example, right now our ceramics group is busily producing an array of products, ranging from useful kitchen items such as cups and serving platters to unique home décor such as totem poles and angels. They are also keeping hard at work keeping up with seasonal and holiday projects. Each item is hand painted and glazed by one of our talented employees before being fired just right by the group leader, Robin, who nurtured the seed from the beginning and helped it bloom into several impressive and bustling groups which required the addition of another instructor, Eric. Not only does he help make ceramics group shine, his artistic experience allows him to double as a paint group instructor as well. One thing is for certain, there will always be an upcoming surprise with some new and unexpected ceramic item.
Another popular favorite, Made in Michigan gift baskets, make wonderful gifts and also support our state’s economy by featuring delicious edible items made right here in the Mitten. The baskets are overseen by the multi-talented Mandy, a woman who wears many hats, one of which is being at the forefront of all of our Creative Groups to help keep them running smoothly. A few employees involved with putting together this tasty treat basket have reported they are almost as much fun to make as they are to snack on.
Check back soon for more information on our groups, blogs from the group members and other happenings going on.
(Post written by Maggie and Lynn)