Each week we get the opportunity to spend time with a great organization that serves and supports our community. We get the chance to meet great people and learn about organizations that we know nothing about. Our week 24 experience is a great example. We were contacted by the Jon Dize, executive director of the Northeast Indiana Burn Council, after he read an article about our project that was published in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette. After receiving the email, we asked the question “what is the Burn Council?” We are glad that we invested the time to find out.
The Northeast Indiana Burn Council is a non-profit organization that supports burn survivors and their families. It is a small organization composed of a board of directors and a part-time executive director. Despite its size, the Burn Council makes a huge impact on Northeast Indiana. Its mission is to “reduce burn incidents while increasing the positive social and medical outcomes of burn survivors.” This is accomplished through the services and programs it offers. Burn Prevention and Advocacy programs help to teach children and adults how to prevent burn situations. They also provide assistance to burn survivors and families during critical times of treatment. Financial assistance, burn garments, and counseling are provided during a time of need. Victims of a severe burn incident may spend weeks or months in the hospital. Families often hate to leave a loved one alone and they need a place to get away from the stress of a hospital room. The Burn Council offers temporary housing in the Burn Suites. These suites are a place where families can gather, shower, and rest while staying close to the hospital. We had an opportunity to spend some time volunteering in the suites.
Upon arrival, we instantly felt the warmth of the suites. There is a shared living room featuring a couch and television. The decor was soft and inviting, creating an environment of comfort and peace. A computer is available for families to connect with other family members through email or social media. A community kitchen features a refrigerator, coffee maker, and microwave so that snacks and meals can be enjoyed. A washer and dryer are also available so that clothing can be washed during the stay. There are four suites with beds, chest of drawers, and personal sinks. They are not fancy, but a serene place for individuals to lay their head for a short nap or a much-needed night’s sleep. All of the suites may be used on any given day. At this particular time, there were no families utilizing the space. To us, that seemed like a good thing.
The Burn Council does not get a lot of volunteers. We spent our time helping do anything that they needed done. We cleaned up and organized the kitchen. We created a plan so that each room has an assigned cabinet to keep purchased food and snacks. We organized all the toiletries so that they are easily available for those that need them. We went through all of the old towels and sheets discarding the old, worn-out ones. Each suite was stocked with extra sheets and towels in preparation for future tenants. Lastly, we provided some suggestions to help make the suites more visitor friendly. We created a list of signs we felt needed to be hung to help those find their way around. As one can see, our time was not spent doing groundbreaking work. Many of the tasks we performed were very simple. It was clear to us, however, that work we completed was important to JD and the Burn Council.
As a family, we have witnessed a family member suffer from traumatic and severe burns. The effect on the victim and the family cannot truly be described. My heart goes out to anyone who has to battle the pain, the suffering, and the recovery of a burn incident. It is nice to know that organizations like the Northeast Indiana Burn Council are present in our communities to provide the support and services needed during that difficult time. The work being done to assist survivors and families is amazing. You can learn more about the Northeast Indiana Burn Council by visiting www.burncouncil.org. You will learn more about the mission and how to get involved. We did not know anything about the Burn Council before our volunteer experience. Today, we are grateful to have had the opportunity to serve with and learn about this organization. I proudly wear my Survivor Alliance wristband in support. After spending some time with them, you would too.