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History


The Need

 

Like any other organ, the human brain is susceptible to disease and injury and as with any disease or injury, many of those associated with the brain are completely curable or can be controlled with medication.  However, some patients face a long recovery and some are challenged their entire lives.

With the closure of so many mental health facilities since the 1960s, today tens of thousands of people nationwide languish in hopelessness and daily must confront the stifling stigma of being labeled “mentally ill.”

Helping our fellow citizens to overcome such daunting challenges requires action on many fronts, one of which is finding suitable housing for those afflicted with persistent brain disease or injury.

Mental health advocates are finding that people with brain disabilities usually can better realize their individual potential in the least restrictive environment in which they are capable of living.

Fairfax County alone has over 500 people waiting for assisted living housing.  The Brain Foundation is extending helping hands to lower this number.


History of the Brain Foundation

 

Trudy Harsh founded the Brain Foundation in 2003 and is the President of the foundation's Board of Directors .  Trudy was driven to establish the Brain Foundation based on her experience with her daughter Laura.  Laura suffered  a brain tumor when she was 8 years old and the resulting surgery left her stunted emotionally and physically.  While Laura struggled with her challenges for 30 years until her death in January 2006, she brought great joy to her family and friends through her keen wit, jokes, poetry and upbeat attitude.  Laura was placed in various mental health and retardation institutions none of which completely met her needs.  Some of her best experiences were at the a facility operated by Pathway Homes, Inc . an apartment program operated by the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board  and four out of state programs.

Trudy recognized an opportunity to fill the housing gap caused by the closure of many mental health facilities over the past several decades and undertook the ambitious task of  seeking out and organizing the legal, financial, technical, and political talent necessary to secure support for acquiring a stock of housing that in 10 - 15 years will be self sustaining, and expanding.


Laura's House #1

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In October 2006, the Brain Foundation was awarded a loan from the Virginia Housing Development Authority to purchase a house in Fairfax, VA.  The home was named "Laura's House" and has been beautifully furnished with donated items and sevices.  Pathway Homes, Inc.  which has experienced social workers has placed four brain diseased men in Laura's House and manages the care of the residents.

The future of the Brain Foundation is bright and Trudy has set the goals of purchasing two more houses in 2007 and three more in 2008.


Laura's House #2

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The second Laura’s house was purchased in 2007 and is located in downtown Fairfax City, VA.  This purchase was made possible by a grant fom the Northern Virginia Regional Partnerships and is now home to four women.


Laura's House #3

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The third Laura’s house was also purchased in 2007 and is located in Annandale VA.  This purchase was made possible by a grant from the Philip Graham Foundation.  Over a thousand hours of volunteer work was donated for refurbishing and the house is now home to four men.


Laura's House #4

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The fourth Laura's House was purchase in early 2009 and is located in Annandale, VA.


Laura's House #5

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The fifth Laura's House was purchased in early 2010 and is located in Fairfax City.


Laura's House #6

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The Brain Foundation recently closed on the 6th Laura's House located in Reston, VA.