The Brain Injury Clubhouse at Beechwood NeuroRehab provides our clients here at Woods a unique opportunity to develop work skills through five different programs: Culinary & Nutrition, Maintenance & Horticulture; Communications; Community Resources and BeechTree (making and selling of body products). While the Clubhouse’s physical location has been closed due to the pandemic, our members haven’t missed a beat with connecting with each other virtually in creative ways.
Jen Love, one of our outpatients in the Community Resources Unit, has been filming a series of tutorials called “DIY with Jen” since June to inspire her co-members to tap into their creative geniuses and gain valuable life skills through crafting, which will prepare them for days back in the Clubhouse when the time comes.
Jen’s tutorials are posted to the Beechwood Clubhouse and Beechwood NeuroRehab Facebook pages, with the help of editing from Caroline Francis, communications unit coordinator, and filming from Jen’s one-to-one aide, Chris. Jen has shown us everything from how to create spooky Halloween home décor to making a weighted blanket for your pet, a sugar scrub for your skin, tabletop coasters from felt and pebble rocks, and so much more!
We sat down with Jen recently to get to know her a little more, as well as learn about the inspiration and process behind filming the DIY projects.
Q: What is a typical day like for you, and what do you like to do for fun?
Jen: I volunteer at the Women’s Animal Center. It’s the first animal center in the United States. I do that a few hours for two days out of the week. I walk dogs, feed all the animals, do laundry, clean all the kennels, clean all the dishes, do paperwork of any sort that they ask, fill up food bowls, wash dishes, wash kennels, wash litter pans, take out trash…there’s a lot.
I also have a lot of pets at my house. It’s my own little urban zoo. I have two dogs, three guinea pigs, one rabbit, a turtle and several fish. And I also dog sit.
Q: Tell us a little bit about the DIY projects. What inspired them, and how did they all start?
Jen: The very first one, Amanda [Elliott, unit coordinator] had asked me to do. And I was like, “OK.” And then I didn’t think I was going to have to do anymore. But then one of the new interns had asked me to do it. And I said, “Alright.” And so I started doing more of the videos, and my aide Chris and I started coming up with ideas for DIYs that would help us in our day-to-day lives and tasks, or that would maybe interest some people.
Q: How involved is the process of filming these videos?
Jen: There’s a lot of trial and error. Chris is the one who’s recording them. We’re doing a lot of testing, and sometimes the ones that we want to do don’t end up making it to the cut. So we end up just coming up with something else because it doesn’t work out.
Q: It seems like you have a natural talent for these kinds of projects. Have you been doing these crafts before filming the videos? Were you crafty as a young child?
Jen: I wouldn’t know if I was crafty when I was a kid because I don’t have any memories of myself before age 21. But, afterward, I didn’t get into crafting until, I’d say, about five or six years ago when I made my own hammock.
Q: What has been your favorite project to create thus far?
Jen: The one for my turtle tank, when I was making my filter. That one was the hardest, but it was the best one. It was my best, cheapest DIY. It was hard, and you had to use your brain for it.
I had the bucket, I had the bat, and I had the tubing. I just had to go purchase some more silicate and a plastic screw. And I had to purchase some more fish charcoal, but I had everything else. It was pretty nice to do things on the cheap and still be able to say, “Oh wow, I can MacGyver this!”