Community Success StoriesWhat follows is a sampling of people whose lives we have touched. These stories are true, and illustrative of the uniquely comprehensive work that we do within our small agency.
"Eleana""Eleana" is a 59-year old woman who came to us upon the recommendation of her physician because she had severe symptoms of Depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. In addition, she suffered from diabetes and cancer in early remission. She arrived here at Programs For People (PFP) after a psychiatric hospitalization caused by a work-related trauma which had caused such extreme symptoms of depression and anxiety that she could not even perform the basic activities required for daily living. Thus, at first, our occupational therapist began Eleana's treatment by helping her to gradually take the steps necessary to resume those very basic life skills, a process which had previously seemed impossible due to the severity of her depression. Afterwards, she told us "The program has helped me to get up, get out of my house, socialize and shower."
In addition, it soon became clear to us that as a woman living with both mental health and medical problems Eleana's perception of herself and the way she viewed her place in the world was dismal. With encouragement, she was able to develop a trusting relationship with her counselor and engage in self-reflection. She was able to gain an increasing sense of self through participating in groups where she benefited from peer feedback. As Eleana developed an increasing sense of self-acceptance, it was heartening for us to see that her ability to advocate for herself, despite cultural barriers, also became evident.
By participating in our groups, Eleana learned more about her illness and how to manage symptoms of depression and anxiety. Gradually, she began to develop coping strategies and relaxation techniques. Our nurse reviewed her medication regimen and provided clarification, and Eleana reported that, "Understanding my medication in Medication Education Group helped me to understand my symptoms and what was happening to me." As her symptoms began to stabilize her confidence grew. Soon she began sharing of herself, creating a warm and special "presence" in our PFP community amongst both peers and staff ..."Now I can talk to people about myself and before I didn't talk at all."
With trauma-related flashbacks and a tendency to anticipate the worst, Eleana was fearful that she would never work again. Yet she let us know, repeatedly, that it was work that had previously given her life purpose and meaning. Thus after a full year of participating in counseling and groups, our treatment team felt that it would be beneficial for Eleana to take a major step forward and move into our onsite food service program, "The Lunch Box." (Our Lunch Box program is designed for clients who are not quite ready for job placement in the community but who need a "real" work experience along with extra support.) There, Eleana has begun working through her symptoms and exploring ways to improve her life outside of Programs For People by integrating her new found skills in her home and questioning what's to come. As she reflects upon her experience thus far here at the program she speaks with inspiration, "I was upset with my life, I hated myself. I went to the hospital and then came here and it gave me support and oriented me in my life. I was like a boat that lost control going nowhere. Then I came here and got help. Someone is always available to me. I just knock on the door and someone listens to my pain and gives me advice. The program was the best decision my doctor made for me."