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.
"John" was referred to our "Project Advance" (PA) program by the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission. Project Advance is Programs For People's job/career training and placement program, designed to meet the needs of adults whose careers have been interrupted by mental illness. The ability to work is one of the strongest building blocks of dignity and self-worth in our society, but for some individuals emotional problems have either eroded or delayed career aspirations. PA is dedicated to creating opportunities for people to regain health and self-esteem through jobs or career-level employment. Individual skills and abilities are matched with employer needs for qualified, reliable workers. Some clients are referred to PA directly from the community, others transition from our day treatment program into PA services.
John's story is not typical, because he had never before been hospitalized or treated for mental illness until the age of 45, when he began to experience severe panic attacks, and psychiatric treatment began. Then, he was referred to PA. In the past, he had worked as an EKG Technician and as a Medical Technician. John told us that he does not know even now why he began to feel so anxious, but that it happened one day when he was teaching and "everything was closing in on me." He found that he could not return to work, and had been unemployed for an entire year. He was experiencing increasing anxiety and panic to such a great extent that he could no longer drive his car or be in public places. He could barely leave his house.
After an initial assessment to identify his skills and psychological "barriers to employment" that needed to be addressed, John began PA with four weeks of classes. Classes helped him to consider career options, enhance his resume and interviewing skills, and develop a job search plan. He also began to participate in a Support Group with other clients that he would continue to attend throughout his use of PA services. John also used PA to build a support system of family and PA staff and to start testing his ability to be around other people. He found that he was able to attend the classes consistently and even to gradually start driving his car again. This gave him the opportunity to build confidence, and he became determined to find a job and try working again. With the help of PA, John was eventually able to find a care attendant job at an assisted living facility, and is still working there today. He tells us that he drives to work, enjoys his job, and that it feels good to be working again.