Survivor Experiences

Read each survivors story to find out how working at Cassell & Associates
has impacted their lives after surviving a catastrophic accident.

Cristie's Story

"My car accident, caused by a drunk driver, was on January 1, 2002 and my prognosis was death.  I survived, but what occurred immediately after my accident was extremely hard and very tiring. I was at U of M Hospital for 3 months having intense daily therapies. I continued my rehabilitation at Eisenhower for another 7 months. Over the years, other than feeling extremely bored with therapies and doctor appointments, I started to feel lost… like I was just existing, with no goals.

Cristie success story-cropped

In 2006, my case manager told me about Cassell & Associates. Martha, the founder, came to my home to ease my hesitation about going to work at Cassell. After Martha somewhat convinced me, I went on a tour of the building. While taking the tour, I met another client working there, who quite honestly freaked me out a little bit with her excessive enthusiasm.  Who knew that almost 10 years later, she would become one of my best friends?  Everybody at Cassell, clients and staff, are extremely positive and have helped me achieve whatever goals I set for myself.  The projects I complete here give me opportunities to practice my fine-motor coordination, memory, speech, social skills, physical skills and writing.  They also help set up and accompany me to Impact speeches, where I educate people about not drinking and driving.

I have worked at Cassell for quite some time.  They continue to be a support system as my teenage son and I live in our own condominium with a 24-hour caregiver.  If it weren’t for Cassell, I would definitely not be as far along as I am today, because I’ve come a long way, baby!"

Cristie’s Success Story, written in her own words, July 2013

Laura's Work Day

Laura sustained a significant brain injury in an auto accident. She has brittle type 1 diabetes and uses a walker to ambulate. Staff assists her in managing daily activities. While her work speed/productivity is 18 percent of an average adult’s, her accuracy is consistently 100 percent. Her heart and gumption persevere on a daily basis. An example schedule that she has chosen for herself involves:

9:00 Fitness Program: Laura starts her day in Fitness Group, working out on the Nu-Step recumbent stepping machine. Our Fitness Program Manager works closely with her and the rehabilitation team to assure that Laura’s fitness needs meet her physician’s instructions.

9:30 Computer Room: Laura works in the computer room, performing data entry, entering mailing address labels into a computer database. The typeface and letters on her keyboard are enlarged to help compensate for her visual limitations.

10:30 Coffee/Snack Break: Socializing with coworkers and some down-time offers Laura a brief respite from work. This time, and all breaks and lunches, are supervised by staff at a 1:3 staff to client ratio that encourages healthy, happy break time conversation and activities.

10:45 Computer Room: Laura returns to mailing address label work.

11:00 Able Works: In a group setting, Laura participates in the discussion of the day during the Reality Orientation Meeting in Able Works Program.

11:30 Blood Sugar Reading: Laura’s diabetes requires routine monitoring, and if necessary, proper insulin dosage is administered by trained Rehabilitation Specialists.

12:00 Lunch: Laura’s lunch time is spent eating and socializing.

12:30 Store: Laura works as part of a team in her role as clerk in Cassell & Associates’ onsite store, greeting and assisting customers, helping calculate total purchase prices, providing change, and tracking purchases for inventory. (Checkout the online store here)

1:00 Main Office: Laura works on various tasks as all survivors at Cassell do: according to their ability levels. This may include assembly, labeling, and/or packaging of various products contracted through Cassell & Associates’ business clients.

1:30 Ceramics Group: Working in a small group of peers facilitated by a specially trained and experienced Rehabilitation Specialist, Laura is provided direction and support with painting, and glazing ceramic items which are for sale in onsite and online gift shops.

2:30 Coffee/Snack Break: Laura enjoys one last break before the end of the work day, at times playing card games with staff and peers as she enjoyed refreshments brought from home.

2:45 Blood Sugar Reading

3:00 Paint Group: Specially trained and experienced Rehabilitation Specialists oversee, train and encourage Laura in creating high-quality paintings as part of her paid work at Cassell.  All art is created with marketability in mind: would someone purchase this art?

3:30 Departure: Laura’s transportation arrives and staff assists Laura in clocking out, and getting her things together for the evening.


Alex experienced a severe traumatic brain injury, and though he ambulates independently, experiences residual cognitive challenges. While his productivity fluctuates between work tasks, he enjoys and excels in others. With cueing from staff, and opportunity to correct errors, his accuracy in the work he completes is consistent.  He thrives in a structured, supportive environment full of praise for a job well-done. A day at Cassell for Alex includes:

8:45 Building 2 Store: Alex arrives at Cassell & Associates and promptly goes to Building 2 to perform the morning accounting for the onsite store, complete a cash deposit, as necessary, and complete story inventory and stocking. Staff supervises transition between buildings and Alex submits the deposit to designated manager in Building 1.

9:00 Main Office: Alex works on therapeutic tasks that promote integrated use of bilateral upper extremities in Main Office work area. This may include assembly, labeling, and/or packaging of various products contracted through Cassell & Associates’ business clients.

9:30 Store: Alex works independently as a clerk in Cassell & Associates’ onsite store to greet and assist customers, calculate total purchase prices, provide change, and track purchases for inventory.

10:30 Coffee/Snack Break: Alex spends time ocializing with coworkers during a brief respite from work area. Staff shares the same break time and provides therapeutic camaraderie.

10:45 Main Office: Alex returns to work tasks in his assigned department.

12:00 Lunch: During lunch break, Alex often appears to enjoy socializing with staff and coworkers and eating a midday meal brought from home or purchased in the onsite store.

12:30 Community Based Work Enclave: Alex participates in community enclave as an activities assistant at Adult Activity Center. A Rehabilitation Specialist transports Alex and others in a Cassell & Associates vehicle and provides support to the survivor team in the community setting. Staff to client ratio is 1:3.

3:10 Main Office: Alex returns to his assigned work area.

3:30 Departure: Alex’s transportation arrives and staff provides any necessary reminders to him as he goes about clocking out and departing.

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