Family repays ReNu Life after facility helped their son
By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on December 27, 2011 1:50 PM
Pier Tarrant, left, of ReNu Life, Russell Anderson and his mother, Ruth Anderson, are shown inside a home that houses brain injury patients.
When Ruth Anderson's son, Russell, had an unexplained medical emergency nearly a year ago and became a patient at a Raleigh facility, she was totally unaware of ReNu Life.
Since discovering the Goldsboro facility for brain injury treatment, though, it has left an indelible impression.
"There are few places in the state and the country that only deal with people with brain injuries," she said. "His option was going to be going to a nursing home."
For six months, her son lived at one of ReNu Life's group homes while he underwent care. Mrs. Anderson traveled back and forth from her home in Clayton every other day.
Russell, 40, currently staying with his parents, is now at "98 or 99 percent recovery."
ReNu Life, his mother says, "gave him his life back."
"He's home with us now for the transition, applying for jobs," Mrs. Anderson said. "He's doing great and is going to be able to transition almost totally back."
His next job will not be in the field where he formerly worked, though. While his injury was not the result of any type of accident, he probably won't be climbing any ladders or doing construction-type work in the future, his mother says.
Russell was actually unemployed when his own health problems surfaced, she explained. He had been laid off from his construction job due to the economy.
"He had a really high fever and had gotten pneumonia and had a seizure," she said.
Being hospitalized can take a toll on any family, both financially as well as emotionally.
But witnessing the care her son received at ReNu Life only served to bolster Mrs. Anderson.
"They're such a caring, loving group of people and their treatment is cutting edge," she said. "Goldsboro is so fortunate to have that in their community.
"I think people with brain injury, from my experience, people are a little insecure and uncertain. ... It's such a wonderful facility, I want to do whatever I can do to give back to them in any way I can. I have just come to love them."
She decided one way to repay some of the kindness and care that had given her son "a one-shot miracle" was to help spruce up some of its residential homes for patients.
"I want to do some painting and freshening up," she said. "These people have just become part of my life."
So she's been visiting businesses and even got a quantity of paint from a local painter, and has set her sights on other ways to accomplish her goal.
"I would love to partner with Lowe's and any other company here," she said. "(The residents) are in desperate need of a commercial convection oven, but they run around $5,000. I'm in the process of looking for one."
Officials at ReNu Life are grateful for the exuberant gestures.
"'Tis the season to give back," said Pier Tarrant, activity director at ReNu Life. "Russell was here for a little while. They're just really, really fine people and wanted to do something at the residence where her son stayed.
"It's a fine old home and has a lot of architectural significance. She just saw the need for some cosmetic improvements as well as some other things that could be done for the residents there."
ReNu Life has four group homes and a 24-bed facility. At the moment, staff is working with 39 residents.
When patients first arrive, Ms. Tarrant said, they are treated at the central location. Once they reach a greater level of independence, they can be moved to one of the group homes.
"The goal is to get them back into the mainstream or back into an apartment so we can check on them," she explained. "Brain injury is the least served disability in the state of North Carolina and the No. 1 cause of death in our state's population. And it doesn't fit with any other disability group.
"For someone like Mrs. Anderson to step forward is just phenomenal. The great thing about (her) is she recognizes how few and far between facilities like ReNu Life are."
Ms. Tarrant said the non-profit is reliant on donations, grants and volunteers for its population.
"Our (patients), I believe that mental health doesn't have the resources, and a lot of these people don't have families in their lives," she said. "There are a lot of individual needs."
At the same time, she is quick to point out just how fortunate Wayne County is to have access to this kind of care.
"Goldsboro is so blessed to have so many things -- Kitty Askins serves so many needs and ReNu Life does that," she said. "Just about everybody that we serve is from North Carolina. There are a few exceptions. So many families are able to travel back and forth."
Whether it's to donate clothing or toiletry items, or have a group come out and entertain the patients, no gift is too small.
So Mrs. Anderson's effort is especially appreciated, says Diane Harrison, CEO of ReNu Life.
"We're just elated and really glad that someone does see the difference that we're trying to make in (patient's) lives," she said. "During these times, no matter what the cause, helping and volunteering their time, their efforts do help."