We’re celebrating 30 years of SLI raising the quality of life for brain injury survivors!
As part of the celebration, we’re looking back, from our founding in 1991 to SLI today, with four residential programs, active and vibrant community wellness classes including Neuro-Fit Assisted Exercise, and ongoing programs to support education and research into supporting individuals with brain injury.
- An automobile accident severely injures 17 year old Scott Stephens and leaves him with a traumatic brain injury (TBI). He requires 24×7 care. His parents Doug and Carrol Stephens soon realize that Scott may need lifelong care.
- The Massachusetts Legislature funds the Statewide Head Injury Program (SHIP) for individuals with brain injury.
- Finding no facilities designed for the long-term care of individuals with brain injury, Doug and Carrol establish Supportive Living Inc (SLI). Their initial focus is on housing and 24×7 support. The mission: “…create appropriate and affordable life-long supportive housing options which will enable survivors of BI to live with dignity…”
- June Johnson, parent of a brain injury survivor, joins the SLI board. She will remain on the board until 2008.
- The Cummings Foundation donates land in Woburn for what will become Warren House.
- Inaugurates the annual SLI Golf Tournament sponsored by the Woburn Lions, who will continue to sponsor the tournament for 13 years.
- Joe Elia joins the SLI board, eventually assuming the role of Treasurer. He will continue on the board until 2008.
- The Massachusetts Legislature establishes the Head Injury Treatment Services Trust Fund, funded by a $125 fine levied against those convicted of Driving Under the Influence (DUI).
- SLI receives HUD Sect 811 grant for $955,800 for construction of an 11 unit, barrier-free residence for adults with TBI. This is the first time HUD has granted 811 funds to this type of organization.
- HUD will continue as a major construction and operating funding source for all SLI properties.
- Architecture plans complete for SLIs first residence, now named Warren House. An agency of the Commonwealth of MA, The Executive Office of Communities and Development also grants SLI $220,000 toward Warren House construction costs.
- The Commonwealth of MA will continue as a major funding source for SLI activities through the years.
- SLI’s founding medical advisor, Dr. Anna Pomfret relocates to Tanzania Africa to work on rural health programs.
- BayBank, a member of the Federal Home Loan Bank system sponsors SLI for a successful grant of $102,400 to cover the cost of Warren House site improvements.
- After years of planning, thousands of volunteer hours, a successful capital campaign, financial support from HUD, the Commonwealth of MA and the FHLB, construction begins on Warren House.
- SLI begins solicitation for residents in the 11 available rooms in Warren House
- Dr. Maturin Finch joins the SLI board as medical advisor. Dr. Finch will continue to serve until 2015.
- Rachael Dorr, Esq. joins the SLI board where she will continue to serve until 2018.
- Bernie McLaughlin joins the SLI board.
- SLI promotes the 11 residences in Warren House though word of mouth and receives over 100 applications for residency. A lottery selects Dennis Hogie and David Keane as two of the lucky 11. Dennis, who now lives at Douglas House, is the first SLI and Warren House resident. David continues to live at Warren House.
- SLI quickly learns how to run a multi-tenant residential facility for adults with TBI, offering social, physical and entertainment activities.
- Warren House hosts its first cook out for residents, staff and family members.
- Physical Therapist Matt Malay is SLI’s first student intern, leading 1-1 exercise programs at Warren House.
- SLI Awarded Section 811 HUD grant for $595,100 to build a second residential facility in North Reading.
- Andover Bank sponsors SLI with the FHLB for a $160,000 grant to purchase land for what will become McLaughlin House.
- Ground-breaking for McLaughlin House construction proceeds after receiving a $200,000 grant from Commonwealth of MA.
- The Massachusetts Legislature adds a $25 speeding surcharge to the Head Injury Treatment Services Trust Fund. The Legislature will increase this surcharge to $50 and increase the DUI fine to $250 in 2003.
- McLaughlin House groundbreaking ceremony attended by representatives from HUD, MA Department of Housing and Community Development, FHLB, Andover Bank and the Town of North Reading.
- With McLaughlin House now running at full capacity, volunteers from St. Teresa’s youth group, as well as community and family members helped decorate for Christmas.
- After a multi-year search, SLI acquires the former Lexington Press to develop a third 15 unit residential facility. The new facility will be called Douglas House, in memory of Doug Stephens, co-founder of SLI, who passed away this year. The project is significantly more complex than previous SLI projects because, rather than new construction, it requires a rehabilitation of a building in the Lexington historic district.
The Doug Stephens Memorial Fund is established in Doug’s honor, specifically to ‘enhance quality of life and to have some fun’ for SLI residents. Among the fun activities, Red Sox outings.
- Peter Noonan joins the SLI board after volunteering on board finance, capital and golf committees. Peter will go on to become SLI President and continues to serve SLI today.
- HUD awards SLI a section 811 grant of $1,070,400 toward development of Douglas House.
- The FHLB awards SLI a grant of $300,000 to develop Douglas House.
- SLI initiates a capital campaign to complete the necessary financing.
- SLI partners with Advocates, Inc. to develop a services program for residents.
- Having acquired the Town of Lexington project approval, Douglas House ground breaking proceeds. The building requires extensive renovations, inside and out.
- Eastern Bank recognizes SLI for for outstanding community leadership at its 4th Annual Community Quarterback Award Ceremony for its dedication to improving the quality of life in our communities.
- Douglas House funding complete through a unique partnership of public and private funders.
- Douglas House construction costs climb. The capital campaign committee raises it’s goal to $1.3M.
- Douglas House construction completes. The historic property includes 15 accessible studio apartments for survivors of brain injury as they seek a path to an independent life with quality and dignity. This brings a total of 38 residential housing units available from SLI to survivors of brain injury.
- Keynote speaker State Senator Susan Tucker praises SLI for the effort that went into financing and construction of the project, including collaboration from government agencies at the federal, state and local level.
- Over 150 people attend the ribbon cutting ceremony which includes a Hanscom Air Base fly-over during the singing of the National Anthem.
- Carrol Stephens receives the2008 Humanitarian Award from the Woburn Business Association in recognition of her exceptional service to the communities of Woburn, North Reading and Lexington.
- Douglas House wins the Robert Kuehn Community Preservation, Large Category Award.
- Encouraging fitness and health for residents, collaborating with Advocates, Inc., SLI commences a capital campaign to build a Wellness Center in the lower level of Douglas House, including:
- A gym with exercise and physical therapy equipment
- Workstations with software for cognitive rehabilitation
- A recreational area for group activities and social therapies
- An accessible kitchen for independent living skills training and vocational coaching on food preparation
- Private multi-function rooms available to residents, family and staff for therapy and consultations
- Bill and Joyce Cummings provide a $100,000 operating funds matching grant, the first of many.
- 60 residents, staff and volunteers attend a Red Sox game courtesy of the Doug Stephens Memorial Fund.
- Opens the SLI Brain Injury Wellness Center after raising $265,000. Intended to help the capabilities of SLI residents and other brain injured survivors in the community, the center will provide a variety of physical and cognitive programs. By collaborating with leading medical and educational institutions, the center will also support research into the effectiveness of different types of programs.
- SLI partners with AccessSportAmerica to develop the physical fitness program at the Brain Injury Wellness Center.
- The student interns program begins at the Brain Injury Wellness Center with students from Gordon College and Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.
- SLI collaborates with the non-profit Old Farm Rockport to develop an 8-unit residential program for adults with physical and cognitive challenges. The project will require $2.6M in funding including $1M in private donations.
- Advocates, Inc. recruited to develop a service program for Old Farm Rockport.
- The Massachusetts Legislature establishes the Brain Injury Commission. Governor Deval Patrick appoints members of this Commission, including persons with acquired brain injury (ABI), state agency representatives, family members of persons with ABI, and providers of community-based brain injury services within the Commonwealth.
- The final Commission report recommends completing an epidemiological study of ABI in Massachusetts.
- Rockport National Bank sponsors the SLI/OFR partnership with the FHLB to raise a $610,000 grant. The partnership has raised another $620,000 in private donations.
Brookline Bank sponsors the Fall Gala. The Bank then becomes a consistent Fall Gala supporter which continues to this day.
- T.L. Stebbins retires from the board after 20 years. A founding member of the SLI board and parent of a brain injury survivor, T.L. was instrumental in the growth of SLI.
- SLI Research Director, Dr. Lauren Lorenz forms the SLI Research Council. With the Wellness Center complete and operating, the Research Council will conduct research on a variety of community-based rehabilitation and therapeutic services designed to help individuals with brain injury increase their ability to interact in community settings. The Research Council includes academics and practitioners from 15 different organizations.
- The Research Council begins two studies, one evaluates the experience of community integration when moving from an institution to the community and another researches the effectiveness of a stroke rehabilitation program that incorporates multiple therapies.
- SLI receives approval from local boards to proceed with development of Old Farm Rockport.
- The Virginia Wellington Cabot Foundation grants SLI $25,000, and continues to support SLI today.
- After five years of work in locating a property, securing funding and required permits, construction begins on Old Farm Rockport.
- Peter Robbins joins the SLI board.
- Tim Kelliher, MD joins the SLI board. A practicing neurologist, Dr. Kelliher joins as Medical Advisor.
- JD Hale joins the SLI board.
- Old Farm Rockport construction completes and the first residents move in.
- The Old Farm Rockport facility becomes the Summer center for outdoor resident activities and classes, including expressive art classes led by Nancy Muise.
- The Dana Home Foundation grants SLI $10,ooo. The foundation has continuously supported SLI since this initial grant and continues to support SLI today.
- The Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission receives the epidemiological study of ABI in Massachusetts recommended by the Brain Injury Commission, “Acquired Brain Injury in Massachusetts“. The study finds that ABI is a major public health problem in Massachusetts.
- Darryl J. Fess joins the board. Darryl has a brother with brain injury and is Senior VP at Brookline Bank.
- Old Farm Rockport celebrates its first year of operation by hosting a cookout for over 100 residents and staff from all SLI programs along with neighbors and friends.
- The Brain Injury Wellness Center begins a pilot Assisted Exercise program at Gordon College Center for Balance, Mobility and Wellness on the north shore with student interns from the college.
- Dr. Laura Lorenz and Gabrielle Katz from the SLI Research Council present their brain injury care findings in “Severe Brain Injury in Massachusetts: Assessing the Continuum of Care” at the Massachusetts Health Policy Forum.
- Leslie Doig begins the SLI Horticulture Program which continues today at SLI residences and hosts summer classes at Old Farm Rockport. In 2021 this program began a new project, Flower Buds.
- The SLI Research Council project, “Talking with Pictures,” goes on display at Cary Memorial Library in Lexington. The project explores community integration of older adults with brain injury and other neurologic conditions.
- Old Farm Rockport hosts it’s second annual cookout and expands it to include a concert with Tentumbao.
- The SLI Brain Injury Wellness Center continues to expand and host interns who learn more about brain injury while getting hands-on opportunities to participate and assist in a number of programs. Occupational Therapy (OT) students returning from Boston University run a Women’s Support Group and students returning from Brandeis University and Gordon College assist in the physical fitness program. SLI begins a new program with graduate Physical Therapy and undergraduate Exercise Physiology students from UMASS Lowell who work one-on-one with participants in the physical fitness program.
The Wellness Center at Douglas House conducts a fitness study working with five Lexington residents who have had a stroke. Four of the five participants hit their fitness improvement goal in the first season. Over 40 residents and community members continue to work-out at the center.
- The Hamilton Company Charitable Foundation grants SLI $5000, and continues making annual grants.
- Amplifi Adaptive Music leads 8-week classes with 6 budding musicians.
- Honors Joyce and Bill Cummings at SLI 25th Anniversary Gala held at Fenway Park.
- The Summer Camp program hosts 12 student interns. Interns spend at least 30 hours a week in activities ranging from assisted exercise to game playing to teaching computer skills.
“SLI ‘s Wellness Center is one of the most sought after sites we offer to students. The students love the experience they receive.” – Professor Amanda S., Ph.D
- Student have participated in the internship program from over 20 universities and colleges since the founding of the Brain Injury Wellness Center.
- Summer Camp includes new classes in horticulture and cooking, outings, and continues the popular exercise classes.
- Facilitators from The Real School of Music lead Warren House residents in a multi-week session to write and perform “their’ song – that is, an original song about their lives with brain injury. Woburn Mayor Scott Galvin visits Warren House to hear the residents perform.
- The Massachusetts Head Injury Trust Fund is bringing in $7 million per year to help support services for the expanding population of individuals with ABI.
- The Boston Evening Clinic Foundation grants SLI $5,000 and continues to make annual grants.
- Cell Signaling Technology grants SLI $4,500. Cell Signaling Technology continues to make annual grants and employees regularly volunteer at SLI facilities.
- Old Farm Rockport again hosts a cookout and concert with Tentumbao.
- With activities and programs outgrowing the space in the Brain Injury Wellness Center, SLI launches a capital campaign to restore and remodel a small building next door to Douglas House. It will become the Brain Injury Wellness Studio and provide increased space for rehabilitation, fitness, music and art programs.
- Volunteers from Cell Signaling Technology upgrade the Old Farm Rockport gardens to make them accessible, and expand them to grow more food and flowers.
- SLI opens a second partner site for Neuro-Fit programs at the Lynch/Van Otterloo YMCA in Marblehead. Partner sites offer Neuro-fit Assisted Exercise to community participants with brain injury.
- From it’s start in 2013 with six participants, the assisted exercise program has grown to 60 participants a week.
- Construction begins on the Douglas House next-door building to expand the Neuro-Wellness facilities.
- Hosts a public Lecture, The Neuroscience of Music, featuring:
- Brian Harris, one of 250 Neurologic Music Therapy Fellows in the world and CEO of MedRhythms,
- Heather Luhn, Director of Education for amplifi Adaptive Music Programs and The Real School of Music,
- Kenny Kozol, a musician, composer, and educator.
- Offers new classes in Boxing for Balance, Chair Yoga and Music Appreciation. The schedule now includes classes in Expressive Art, Boxing for Balance, Group Cognition, Interactive Drumming, Chair Yoga, Chess Club, Healthy Cooking, Horticulture and Music Appreciation.
- SLI and Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital collaborate on a study on the effect exercise has on reducing cognitive decline for individuals who have suffered a stroke. The study is a continuation of SLI’s research into the benefits of exercise and other interventions to help improve life for survivors of brain injury.
- The members of the SLI Research Council have now collectively completed over 20 studies – many of which have been published or are under peer review. The Council has made 18 presentations at regional and national conferences.
- Dr. Krystyn Van Vliet joins the SLI board. A traumatic brain injury survivor, Dr. Van Vliet is a Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and Biological Engineering at MIT.
- Douglas House resident Maura writes and presents her story at Voices on the Green.
- Dana Home Foundation grants SLI $20,000.
- Impact100 Boston grants SLI $40,000.
- Construction continues on the Brain Injury Wellness Studio. Like the Lexington Press building next door, the structure requires extensive renovations.
- The Rockport Garden Club selects the gardens at Old Farm Rockport for it’s 2019 Garden Tour.
- Rachael Dorr retires from the SLI board. Rachael has served on the board for 25 years.
- SLI fields a team in the Genesis Battlegreen Run. Team Neurons raise over $13,ooo.
- Celebrates the opening of the expansion of the Neuro-Wellness Center with a ribbon cutting for the new William P. Van Vliet Wellness Studio.
- The Covid-19 Pandemic closes programs and houses to non-essential visitors, but the Summer Intern program continues through masking and social distancing.
- Adds third partner site for Neuro-Fit Assisted Exercise programs at The Merrimack Valley YMCA.
- Cancels the Doug Stephens Memorial Golf Tournament due to Covid.
- Re-envisions and Fall Gala as virtual event, The Sounds of Music, Neuroscience of Music and the Mind, also due to Covid.
- Fields a team for the virtual Genesis Battlegreen Run.
- Covid again forces cancellation of the Doug Stephens Memorial Golf Tournament and Fall Gala. However SLI launches a Virtual 30th Anniversary Celebration.
- Covid safety precautions and full residential vaccinations (staff, residents and contractors) means SLI can proceed with the spring internship program. The winter/spring semester is the largest group of student interns yet, with 28 in total – 19 in Neuro-Fit, 6 in occupational therapy, 2 assisting with grant research and 1 in social work.
- Salem State University Healthcare Studies Department recognizes SLI’s internship program as their #1 Internship partnership.
“Since our initiation, Supportive Living has been a long-standing, dedicated partner especially attracting students who are seeking post-graduate licenses in nursing, occupational therapy, and chiropractic programs. The University students love the one-to-one interactions with the class participants; the young interns are particularly impressed by the courage and drive for success. The appreciation for one another’s skills and talents – student & client – makes this partnership an enthusiastic win-win”. Michele Sweeney, Academic Fieldwork Coordinator.
- Opens the fourth community-based Neuro-Fit assisted exercise program at the new Cape Ann YMCA. Classes include participants affected by many types of neurological disorders – traumatic brain injury, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and anoxia.
- Launches Flower Buds!, which delivers small bouquets of flowers grown in the Old Farm Rockport gardens to anyone in the Rockport and surrounding Cape Ann community who may benefit from an act of kindness. SLI residents and other survivors from the community create these small bouquets in community classes.
- Fields a team for the GenesisHR Battlegreen Run which will be in-person or virtual this year.
This is the final installment on the SLI 30 year history. We hope you have enjoyed this tour through 30 years at SLI.