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BIA-MA receives grant from Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts

The Brain Injury Association of MA (BIA-MA) has been awarded a $5,000 grant from the Eugene A. Dexter Charitable Fund, Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts. Beatriz Fuentes, bilingual education coordinator for BIA-MA, will use the funds to educate and protect youth in Springfield. The Foundation of Western Massachusetts administers charitable endowments in Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin counties. "The many fatalities this summer underscore the importance of safety and wearing seat belts," commented Fuentes. "It's so tragic to see young people die needlessly." The prevention efforts in Springfield will specifically target young people in the Hispanic community. In addition to producing educational materials in Spanish and English, Fuentes will lead an effort to expand the Think A-Head program to educate elementary, middle and high school students in Springfield about the importance of bike helmets, seat belts and responsible driving. She works out of BIA-MA's Western Massachusetts Regional Office. In an effort to reach more individuals and families with brain injury, BIA-MA opened a regional office in Pittsfield in 2006. In addition to providing information, resources and support services to survivors and their families, the Western Massachusetts Regional Office oversees support groups that run at various locations in the region. Fuentes, a resident of Springfield, began her relationship with BIA-MA three years ago when she collaborated with them to form "Friends of Natalie" in memory of her 21-year-old daughter Natalie, who was killed in a rollover crash. A seat belt could have saved her life. In 2008, BIA-MA hired her to be the bilingual education coordinator. "We are so grateful to the Community Foundation for their generous support," Suzanne Doswell, manager of the Western Regional Office, said. "Their generous contribution will make it possible for our staff to better educate people in the Springfield area about the risks and consequences of brain injury." The Brain Injury Association of Massachusetts, a private, non-profit organization, provides support services to brain injury survivors and their families, offers programs to prevent brain injuries, educates the public on the risks and impact of brain injury, and advocates for legislation. BIA-MA is also reaching out to the many veterans returning home from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars with brain injuries and their families.

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