Closure of NOSBIS – the North Okanagan/Shuswap Brain Injury Society
The recent closure of NOSBIS, a home-grown not-for-profit society, reflects a change in the provision of services for brain injury survivors and their families in our community. These services are now being provided by March of Dimes Canada, a national not-for-profit organization.
The North Okanagan/Shuswap Brain Injury Society (NOSBIS) had its early beginnings in 1992, when Debbie Foster-Stoelting and Tom Rice initiated meetings with fellow-brain-injury survivors to share their stories, frustrations and post-injury life experiences. These informal meetings provided the only support that was available at that time to brain-injury survivors, and the group grew steadily as individuals with Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) gathered together for much-needed peer support. In 1994, the group was registered as a non-profit society, and a Board of Directors was formed with the mission of empowering survivors of ABI to rebuild the skills necessary to reach their individual goals for recovery and reintegration into the community.
Since 1994, NOSBIS experienced periods of growth and periods of significant financial and staffing crisis. Extraordinary effort on the part of staff, volunteers, and Board members, together with financial support from individual members of the community, kept NOSBIS operational during the times of crisis. Those ongoing efforts, coupled with additional funding from government grants, made it possible for NOSBIS to continue providing a high level of programs and services to the brain-injury survivors in and around our community. The past five years saw extraordinary growth with the introduction of numerous new programs to complement the contracted programs and services. However, the Board of Directors identified some challenges to NOSBIS’s ability to maintain this high level of service over the long term. With the incidence of brain injuries continuing to rise and available funding unable to keep pace with the ever-increasing client base, it became apparent that a solution needed to be found to ensure the long-term financial sustainability of the Society.
Three years ago, March of Dimes Canada (MODC), an Ontario-based national not-for-profit organization, made a presentation to NOSBIS that outlined how collaboration between the two entities could better support those living with brain injury in Salmon Arm and the surrounding communities. As a result of the presentation, NOSBIS entered into a collaborative relationship with MODC in which both parties would contribute and benefit. The goal was to expand and enhance the activities of NOSBIS in the Salmon Arm community in partnership with MODC.
The hope of MODC was that public recognition of the collaboration would drive MODC’s national brand and fund development efforts. The collaboration would provide MODC with an opportunity for the organization to move west and broaden its brand base and scope of operations at a lower cost, while adding to the growth of MODC’s acquired brain injury and ancillary programs and services through the acquisition of brain injury service contracts previously held by NOSBIS.
The collaboration would offer NOSBIS a variety of opportunities to achieve the financial sustainability necessary to support long-term enhanced client services, including administrative supports and increased employment opportunities and benefits for NOSBIS staff.
The funded contracts and the management of NOSBIS’s staff and clients were successfully transitioned to MODC on December 1, 2020. However, the collaborative process effectively ceased at the same time and the pieces of the collaboration that would have contributed to a stronger, financially sustainable NOSBIS were never implemented. As a consequence, NOSBIS has become unable to fulfil its stated mission and mandate and is unable to continue operating as a registered charitable Society.
When the Board and the NOSBIS Membership agreed to the proposed collaboration with MODC, the expectation was for NOSBIS to grow and thrive. Instead, the opposite has happened and, after serving the brain-injury community for twenty-nine years, NOSBIS is closing its doors. Nevertheless, the Board of Directors remains grateful that many of the programs and services which were developed and delivered by NOSBIS throughout the past many years will continue to be delivered by the former NOSBIS staff and, hopefully, will be enhanced by March of Dimes Canada as their funding allows.
The enduring presence of NOSBIS in our community over the past twenty-nine years is a testament to the power of community. It’s impossible for NOSBIS to convey its enormous gratitude for the amazing support of our wonderful community. Thank you to the many local businesses, organizations and individuals who provided generous financial support and fundraising opportunities, to the artists and artisans who so willingly donated their creations for our annual silent auctions, and to the businesses who donated reduced-cost and no-cost services when we were low on funds. Thank you to each of the dedicated volunteers over the years who served on the Boards, who worked tirelessly on fundraisers and other volunteer projects, who daily provided a welcoming reception to clients, members, visitors and staff alike. Thank you to all the staff members throughout the years who used their knowledge and compassion to ceaselessly advocate for the betterment of our clients. Thank you, especially, to Tom Rice and Debbie Foster-Stoelting, the founders of NOSBIS. Their vision of a “safe place” where brain injury survivors could meet and support each other in their shared post-brain injury experiences led to the creation of NOSBIS.
The legacy of NOSBIS has been passed on to March of Dimes Canada. The Board of Directors is confident that with the local staff under the supervision and direction of the Victoria-based Regional Manager and supported by the Ontario-based national office, the needs of brain-injured individuals and their families in our community will continue to be well-met under the management of March of Dimes Canada.
During this time of transition, additional information may be obtained by contacting either:
NOSBIS at email@example.com | PO Box 760, Salmon Arm, B.C. V1E 4N7
March of Dimes Canada-Community Brain Injury Services at firstname.lastname@example.org
PO Box 580, Salmon Arm, B.C. V1E 4N7 | Phone 250-515-0845