Law firm helps support fund-raiser for disabled vets "clubhouse"
To add more brain-injured veterans to its membership roster, the Midwest Brain Injury Clubhouse is launching an Adopt-a-Veteran program. A friend-raiser will be held on Thursday, March 18, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Clubhouse, 300 N. Elizabeth St., Suite 310 C, Chicago, to help with the funding. While there is no cost to attend the event, it is hoped that guests will open up their hearts and their wallets. Antonio Romanucci, a partner in Romanucci & Blandin, LLC, whose law firm concentrates in representing victims with traumatic brain injuries, is the driving force behind the fundraising effort. Romanucci helped found the Clubhouse with Giesler and served as its board president for seven years. “The Midwest Brain Injury Clubhouse is the only facility in the Midwest that provides post acute care to traumatically-injured patients,” he states. “Because of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Clubhouse has encountered a surge in requests. To accommodate those requests, we must raise additional funds with the hope that those who proudly served our country can acclimate more quickly back into society.” For further information about the event, contact the Clubhouse at (312) 226-8720, or log onto their Web site at www.braininjuryclubhouse.org. After being treated at Hines V.A. Hospital in Chicago for a traumatic brain injury he suffered in Iraq, Ryan Krantz joined the Midwest Brain Injury Clubhouse as an intern, doing a variety of office tasks, socializing with other members and in short, rebuilding his life and a loss of self-esteem. “I thought I would never be able to go back into the community,” said Krantz, who works at the Clubhouse three days a week. “I thought I would be damaged for good, but the Clubhouse showed me I can heal from my injury with this great veteran internship program.” Now, what began as a simple internship for four young veterans with brain injuries has transformed into a critical role – the actual survival of the Clubhouse, whose purpose is to provide members with real-life opportunities to learn new skills and be productive. “Like many not-for-profits, funding from the State of Illinois has been sparse and inconsistent,” according to Deborah Giesler, a Clubhouse founder and its executive director. “As a result, a 50 percent reduction in staff had to be made to keep the doors open.” But the veterans have been a godsend, she continues. True to their role to fight for what they believe is right, it’s natural the veterans would step up to the challenge, and they are now involved in all aspects of the organization, she says. “Our member-veterans are actually working harder to overcome their many challenges because they want to save the Clubhouse. They are standing taller, speaking more clearly and taking leadership roles with ease. We are very proud of them and amazed at how this need is aiding their recovery.” This novel initiative was presented favorably at a nationally held U.S. Department of Labor town hall meeting in response to suggestions on how to better provide job opportunities to persons with disabilities, Giesler says.