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Pilot Club making big impact for TBI

The Pilot Club of Demopolis has only 13 registered members but makes a huge impact in the community with their volunteer work. They work primarily in caring for people who have Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) and their caregivers and in working with children and teens in order to prevent brain injuries from occurring.

Their goal is to “make the community and especially small children aware of how to protect their brains,” Pilot Club President Joyce Weiss said.

In order to reach this goal, the Pilot Club stays busy. Some of the things they do include hosting various fundraisers like raffles, golf tournaments and spaghetti dinners, donating books to Demopolis Public Library, providing scholarships to high school students and mentoring adolescents through the Anchor Club at Demopolis High School, which Weiss says helps them “understand the importance of volunteering.”

Of everything they do throughout the year to complete their mission, four things are most notable about this group.

The first is their dedication to supporting Camp ASCCA, a nationally recognized camp that serves as a barrier-free haven for children and adults with disabilities.

“We’re one of the largest giving groups to Camp ASCCA in our Alabama district,” Weiss said.

With the Pilot Club’s support, Camp ASCCA (which stands for Alabama’s Special Camp for Children and Adults) lets campers with disabilities enjoy things like horseback riding, swimming, zip-line, fishing, walking nature trails, water tubing, canoeing and much more.

The second notable service they perform is an entire week dedicated to teaching kindergarteners in Marengo County about protecting their brains.

During their Brain Awareness Week, volunteers travel to elementary schools and perform skits and puppet shows to teach children about the importance of protecting their brains and how to properly do it.

The third service is the Care and Kindness Week, which is hosted specifically for caregivers. According to caregiver.org, “Studies show that an estimated 46 percent to 59 percent of caregivers are clinically depressed.” To put that in perspective, in 2015 the National Institute for Mental Health estimated that 6.7 percent of Americans has at least one major depressive episode in the past year.

“We do a lot of things to assist the caregivers … to keep them upbeat,” Weiss said. That includes everything from delivering requested items, preparing and donating “pick-me-up” kits and simple visiting with the caregivers.

“Some enjoy just the visit. Often they don’t have anybody to see them,” said Eleanor Park, Vice President of the Pilot Club.

Finally, the Pilot Club also works with the Marengo County Sheriff’s Department on Project Lifesaver, which gives certain patients with a tendency to wander off, such as those with dementia, special tracking bracelets so they can be found.

Even though the Pilot Club is constantly working to improve the community, Weiss said it doesn’t feel like work to her, thanks to the group’s mission and members.

“I’m so dedicated and the members who are in there with me and are so dedicated to make sure our goals get carried out,” Weiss said.

If you have this dedication and a passion for patients with TBI, the Pilot Club is always welcome to new members.

Prospective members will first meet with the president and members of the Pilot Club in order to have any questions answered, then sit in on a meeting and complete the application. Applications include a $20 fee, and after that members are expected to pay a $10 membership fee annually.

Prospective members can contact Joyce Weiss at 334-289-5918 or Eleanor Park at 334-314-9278.