By Mathew P. Flaherty and William Harter
I was diagnosed with a mental illness in the 60s. My symptoms started at 11 years old. I could not get out of bed, comb my hair or take care of myself. Eight years later, when I was 19, they diagnosed me as schizophrenic. My doctor said it was just one of those illnesses that happen, like a broken leg. Schizophrenia is not an illness easily diagnosed.
People who have mental illnesses are sometimes told it is all in their head and you are imagining what is happening to you. I wish that were the case. It is not something you can wish away—you have to face it and deal with it.
A psychiatrist examined me and I was admitted to the IMH on Dec. 17, 1975. I was there four months, and then went to a shelter.
It was a long, hard fight. I look at the position I’m in and it could have been much worse. Many people with mental illnesses are victims of crime and violence. Continue reading ‘Success Story: Mathew Flaherty’
By JoAnn Dyes
Tammy M, is a 40-year-old women, who became addicted to drugs and alcohol at a young age. Her only job was getting money and buying stuff to feed her habit. Along the way she married and had children. It was a comfortable living arrangement. When the bottom fell out. Her children were removed from the house and then the house was gone.
Life on the streets went on for nearly a year. Then Tammy called Amos House and came in the next week. Entered the resident program for 90 days.
She has been sober 10 months now. Her reason for drinking has now come to light that she has a mental illness, that now is under control. Continue reading ‘Success Story: Tammy M.’
By Arline Bolvin
Ann C. Cruz strides confidently and purposefully as she packs her presentation materials in the car, her smile and demeanor conveying warmth but also poise and style. At forty-seven Ann travels a road many women travel, but few survive and flourish as well as Ann has.
Working with women in recovery from domestic violence and mental illness is what gives Ann purpose today. Having lived the experience both as a child of a single, bi-racial, and mentally ill parent, as well as becoming mired in an abusive marriage herself, there aren’t too many sides of these issues Ann hasn’t experienced herself. Continue reading ‘Breaking Down the Barriers of Intolerance’
By JoAnn Dyes
Diana Freeman, a petite blonde woman with compassion bigger than she is, came into the shelter system in November of 2009.
Attending a speak out began her involvement with RIHAP Speakers Bureau-Voices of the Homeless, while she was vice chair and Secretary.
She is active with the winter shelter service at Mathewson Church 2009-2010 season. Continue reading ‘Homeless Not Helpless’
My name is Alicia Wilcox. I’m a 47 year old woman with five children, ages 14 through 26. I have been struggling with the disease of addiction since 1980. I have been addicted to crack cocaine and alcohol ever since I can remember.
Continue reading ‘Alicia Wilcox: Today I Choose to Live’
By Brian Young
Mike Mogayzel lived at a tent city in Providence from February 16 until March 20. “I accomplished more here in a month than I did at the Providence Rescue Mission for three months,” Mogayzel said of his time at the tent city. The Providence Center referred Mogayzel to Lynn Saxton, a realtor for Providence Center clients.
Mogayzel now has his own apartment in Providence and feels more confident about gaining employment and being able to help others take the steps he did.
Now Mogayzel wants to give back, so he is working with the homeless, attending classes for anger management and trying to change his life around for the better. His goal is to get into college in the near future.
By Brian Young
“Woman hit with stone, in serious condition” was the headline to an article in the May 23, 2007, Providence Journal.
The headline was about Lawshawnda Dennis, who decided that her injury was a signal to change her life. At that point, Dennis had been battling addiction for about 15 years. Continue reading ‘Injury Prodded Woman onto a Path of Recovery’
By Dan Meltzer
Before becoming homeless in 1992, Brian Young lived in Newport for many years. After a spell of being in and out of prison, he decided it was time to begin again in a new place. Young moved to Providence. Despite the difﬁculties in adjusting to a completely new city, he took it “one day at a time.” Continue reading ‘Constant Effort Pays Off’
By Stan Kapelewski
After a long, difficult journey through a life filled with trials and tribulations, Richard Sprague took on the challenge of regaining control of his life at the age of 49.
Sprague is a lifelong resident of Rhode Island who grew up in a large family of nine siblings. Tragedy struck, and Sprague’s father died before he even had a chance to know him. Sprague’s mother was left a single parent of nine children. Continue reading ‘Lesson #1 for Success: Hit Problems Head-On’
By Rosalina Collazo
R.I. Coalition for the Homeless
Pedro Rodriguez, a member of the Rhode Island Bank Tenant and Homeowners Association, brings enthusiasm to the group. He encourages everyone to stand together and give support to one another to strengthen the association as a whole. He wants everyone to stay strong and accomplish their goals to be able to stay home and be respected as human beings. Continue reading ‘Tenant Gives His Work to Group Fighting Foreclosure’
By Brynn McNally
When he first arrived, Todd Pont thought himself an unlikely candidate to handle the front desk at Warm Shelter in Westerly, Rhode Island, where he has lived and volunteered for the past 19 months. Todd is covered in tattoos, has limited use of his left arm because of a violent confrontation landing him in the ACI for three years, and has a self-described discomfort with social interaction. Yet remembering his first visit to the shelter a few months prior, the staff believed in his potential and gave him the chance to help out at the desk. Now Todd handles the phones and helps out in the main office. For the past year and a half he has been volunteering at Warm Shelter every day, and believes himself a stronger man because of it. Continue reading ‘Shelter Staff Sees Faith in Its Client Bear Fruit’