SERVING INDIVIDUALS AND FAMILIES LIVING WITH MENTAL HEALTH NEEDS IN MIDDLESEX COUNTY SINCE 1968
Gilead Community Services understands that the path to recovery and independence is not always straight, fast or smooth. Gilead’s services are designed to meet the challenges and needs of individuals, helping each to find the way for the long run. Since 1970, friends, neighbors and family members have found a path to a more meaningful life because Gilead, with the support of many, has enabled that progress.
Countless success stories come out of Gilead’s annual road race each year that inspire and move us. Mike Black, Psychotherapist at Gilead’s Outpatient Clinic, considers himself lucky to be part of one such success story. Although Mike had participated as a fundraiser in the past, 2022 was the first time he attended. He accompanied and walked alongside L.M for as far as she was able. The plan was never to finish the race (or so he thought). L.M. has some physical challenges that cause her to be a fall risk and unstable while walking. Mike and L.M. were going to take their time, turn around when she was ready and just enjoy the day!
“She just kept going,” Mike laughs. “We walked slow and at times she struggled, so we rested and took a break, but she had her mind set to get to the finish line.” Mike asked her many times if she wanted to turn around but L.M. was motivated to keep going. “The further we walked, the more people joined to walk or cheer for us! No one pushed her to keep going, we just walked alongside. L.M. was totally self-motivated.”
After the event, L.M. suffered from muscle soreness and sores on her feet for weeks. But that did not hamper her enthusiasm. She continued to talk about the day and finishing the race for months! L.M. has even inspired a friend to not only attend, but to cross that finish line with her in 2023.
When I arrived at Farrell House I was greeted by the administrator and counselor; they didn’t treat me as if I was broken, desperate or sad. I was treated as if they had known me my entire life. During my 28 days there I was treated like family — a stern but loving and understanding family; the family I had always needed. They made me understand and see that my damage wasn’t my fault. Through the meetings…well they call them meetings but in reality, they are classes on how important you are to yourself and how you have the power to glue the broken pieces together. I say glue because we will always have cracks and scars but now they make us stronger and we shine brighter than we ever thought possible. Actually I never even knew I could shine at all.
My addictions have haunted me for 28 years of my life; 28 years of prescription drug abuse started with anxiety and depression medications. I was always terrified of going to rehab because I knew it was going to take away what I loved the most, drugs. I had no idea or concept how to constructively live any part of my life without them, I was terrified. To sit here now and actually put this in words makes me quite emotional. The comradery at Farrell is every where in the house: scheduled rise and shine, chores, and great food. I witnessed some clients shut down and rebel. The counselors are beyond aware of everyone as an individual and a group. There a is a lot to say about the down to earth approach that Farrell has. You’re not on a vacation, you’re in a facility that cares more about you than what the view is from your room.
My great accomplishments in the past five years emotionally, spiritually and socially are deep lessons that Farrell taught me. You truly have to apply what they teach you; you have to want it for you and only you. Farrell taught me to be the person I never knew existed inside of me. Thank you Farrell! Now I exist and I am unstoppable.
Congratulations to Anchorage Home’s talented young musical prodigy on his recent starring role performance in [UN]DOCUMENTED at Mitchell College in New London. The Broadway-caliber show was the result of a collaborative six-week summer arts program by the renowned, community-based nonprofit Writers Block Ink. His talent as a composer of gospel improvisation developed into full songwriting skills, as he contributed a central ballad to the show. The show received praises and a positive review from the theatrical community, following full-page coverage in The Day on August 14, 2019. Opening night was attended by a multitude of fans, with accolades for our teen star who was a stand-out among a stage of cast members, average age 14! The individual talents in acting, singing, and dancing were enhanced by choreography, staging, lighting, and blocking – so effective, that the audience was entirely swept along the journey of a lifetime, imagining the tribulations of the immigrant experience in America, based on true-life stories, news headlines, recordings of political speeches, dramatizations of social activism, and satires including American quiz shows such as The Newlywed Game and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire (similar to the format of Saturday Night Live! ). Opening night was followed by a “talk-back” session with all cast members seated along the proscenium and answering probing questions from the audience. The inspiration of the elements of fear and alienation of the immigrant experience motivated our Anchorage keyboardist, for the first time, to add poetical lyrics to his music, making for a profoundly moving performance.
Gilead is so lucky to have such a great relationship with High Hopes Horse Farm. EL from our Valor Home has been working with High Hopes learning how to groom, walk, and take care of the horses. He was honored with a graduation ceremony in May for completing his most recent session. This summer he will be taking part in a new session – learning how to ride with the horses and carriages. Gilead is are proud!
Imagine hearing voices that no one else hears? Approximately 2.2 million Americans live with schizophrenia. Nathan, Alan, and Sandy are part of those 2.2 million Americans, but they are also part of the Gateway Community Treatment Team and the facilitators of the Hearing Voices Network.
Last summer, the three attended a HVN training to learn how to run their own self-help groups in their community. The HVN is a peer-to-peer support group for anyone experiences hearing voices or sensory illusions. The HVN is open to both individuals with these diagnoses and their families. Nathan emphasized that “What happens in group, stays in group.”
HVN meets on Wednesdays in Deep River and there is another HVN network that meets in Middletown. For more information for this free group, please email Nmarshall2106@yahoo.com.
Danny’s sister, Linda has called Gilead home since 1993. One of Danny’s earliest memories is Linda being “thrown out” of kindergarten. When they were younger Danny would try to talk with Linda, but she would just look through him. When she was 6-years-old she was placed in foster care with her sister, Donna, and shortly after she was placed at Devereux Glenholme in Washington, Connecticut until she was a teenager. The Devereux Home did a lot for Linda and in her later teenage years she was moved to Devereux Home in Philadelphia for young adults. After that she was in and out of institutional programs in the area, including Connecticut Valley Hospital. Finally in 1993, Linda found a home in our Gilead II program and met Bridget who would be her case manager until 2010 when Linda moved onto more independent living in our Women’s Program.
Bridget contributes Linda’s success to her active role in her personal treatment plan and recovery process. She has grown by learning new skills and ways to cope with her diagnoses. One skill that Linda has excelled at and thoroughly enjoys, is cooking. She is a fabulous cook and enjoys making her breakfast with a good cup of coffee.
Linda likes cleaning her apartment daily and answering the phones and cleaning at Gilead’s Social Rehabilitation Center (Social Club). This is where she met Troy, a Gilead Apartment Program (GAP) client, and fell in love. Linda and Troy were engaged. Several years ago, sadly, Troy passed away. Despite the heartbreak Linda has coped with her loss and continues to attend Social Club to help wherever she can. Over the years, she has worked at McDonald’s and volunteered at Goodwill. She would love to get a job at Stop & Shop in the future.
Anyone who knows Linda will tell you that she absolutely LOVES her birthday. She will invite anyone and everyone to her birthday celebration. She also enjoys the thrill of amusement parks.
“Gilead gave her a life in society,” Danny credits Gilead for doing an amazing job at giving Linda a life. Linda says “There’s no such thing as I can’t, because I can.”
Most recently the CCT worked with Emily, a resident of Gilead’s Women’s Home. Emily had been utilizing the Emergency Department (ED) approximately once per month. Emily, Gilead’s Women’s Home Staff, and the CCT came up with a plan to reduce these visits by working with Emily on strategies that would better meet her physical and mental health needs.
Together they determined that on every anniversary of an excessively stressful past event Emily insisted on going to the ED. These anniversaries were causing depression, anxiety and various physical discomforts. Understanding what was underlying these frequent visits enabled the development of a two-part plan to reduce the need for these visits and to ensure that Emily received the support that she needed.
The first part of the plan assigned a specific individual on the CCT to call Emily during the weeks she was most vulnerable and to give her the opportunity to call them. This let her know that people outside of her Gilead family cared for her. The second part of the plan enabled Gilead Staff to offer Emily appointments with her Primary Care Physician (PCP) when she felt she needed to go to the ED. Staff would encourage her to keep the appointment rather than accessing the ED.
This collaboratively designed and implemented intervention has been tremendously successful in encouraging and supporting Emily to access the care that she needs and to reduce her need for the ED. Since this plan has been implemented, Emily’s visits to the ED have been dramatically reduced. This experience has enhanced Emily’s self esteem and improved her relationships with staff and other residents.
Emily Gives Back
Recently, members of the CCT were so impressed with Emily’s success that they presented her with a gift of yarn, which she has used to give back to the community. Emily has chosen to knit some blankets for the Warming Center in Middletown for those who are less fortunate than she is. Emily was thrilled with this opportunity and presented two hand knitted blankets to them last month.
The Courage of Convictions Award was presented to Basil Ali on Tuesday, March 17th at Gilead’s Annual Client Banquet. His tireless work to improve the agency, and his effort to find new pursuits for the Assertive Community Treatment Team program (ACT) and Gilead to grow as an agency contributed to his nomination.
Basil was born in Minneapolis, MN with the birth name Jesse Jackson. Ask him what his mother would say before he was born and he will gladly recite, “Please send me a cute little boy. Curly on the top, hold the onions. The sweetest one you got.”
Basil is known throughout the agency for his large personality. If you are ever at the Buttonwood Tree for Open Mic Night, you will likely see Basil singing or dancing. He also enjoys writing short stories, drawing. He especially enjoys making videos and movies. You can visit his YouTube Channel “Basil Ali” to watch his works.
He is hoping to attend an art school in Boston. Currently, he is employed at McDonalds however; his dream job is to do something in the entertainment industry. He would like to become famous and his motivation to reach his dreams is to “believe anything is possible and believe people can change.”
Gilead’s WISE Program is unique from all other programs we provide, because it is a nursing home diversion program. Essentially the clients live independently in the community and receive intensive support 25 – 30 hours per week – one staff with one client. These hours are spent going to doctor appointments, working on health wellness, and creating and cultivating relationships.
Richard and Robert, WISE clients, get together with their recovery assistant Deborah every Saturday. They plan their activities together, while learning the give and take of relationships. At the end of the day one of them hosts the other for dinner and an evening together.
Richard enjoys collecting monkeys, his cat “Spotty”, and going out with WISE staff and clients. His favorite outing is to see the boats and go fishing. After many years of not fishing, Richard went fishing with Deborah. This was a good thing, because he refused to put the worm on the hook or take a fish off the hook. Luckily, he had Deborah with him, who said that she’d do that for him.
Robert works at Gilead’s Apartment Program washing counters. Deborah taught Robert how to use a calculator to assist him in paying his bills. Robert likes a clean home, and keeps up with his daily cleaning. He appreciates his part time position at the GAP program. He saves each week, planning to enjoy a meal at nice restaurant in the near future. He is an avid reader, enjoys learning facts, and looking through his family photo albums. He has two sisters and absolutely adores his family; he will tell you all about being a Great Uncle when asked.
We witnessed many accomplishments during the Run for Every 1 Road Race, but one in particular inspired us. P.K. reminded us about the importance of motivating ourselves to “keep going” and the ability we have to overcome obstacles in spite of any disabilities. He completed half of the race in 2017, but decided he could do better in 2018. He was the last person who completed the race but never gave up!
I met J.F. in 2013 when I started working at the Anchorage Home. I noticed he was always listening to music and that we enjoyed some of the same music. We began to talk about different genres, the latest songs on the radio, and his collection of albums. Eventually J.F. told me about his dream to be an R&B singer and how he spent a lot of time writing his own lyrics. I got in touch with Writer’s Block in New London and booked vocal lessons for J.F. there. Writer’s Block paired him up with a Connecticut College music student who immediately had him writing lyrics about how he was feeling. From there, J.F. started writing his song, “Ignorant Skies.” He would practice this song with the music almost ever session, receiving feedback and coaching from his instructor. At first, he didn’t feel comfortable singing in front of people and wanted strictly private lessons. But after I reminded him of his dream to be a singer, he agreed to start practicing in front of three to four staff members. I asked J.F. if he would like to perform his song at a banquet in front of about 200 people. At first he was unsure but agreed after being reminded that this event would be perfect to sing at, experience a crowd, and build up his confidence.
The day of the event arrived and J.F. showed signs of self-consciousness and nervousness. But after talking through his emotions with me, he became extremely excited. By the time he performed, there wasn’t a single sign of fear. He walked right up to the podium and did an awesome job singing his song, throwing in a couple dance moves. I can honestly say that it was such a proud moment for me watching him, and thinking about his progress from just sitting on a couch quietly with headphones to performing in front of an entire crowd.
Tim from the Anchorage Home learned the process of building a picnic table at school and donated it to the program. Not only did Tim donate his time and talent to make this project so successful, he also donated much of his own money. Tim’s giving spirit inspired folks at his school and DCF to donate to the project to support both him and Gilead. We appreciate all the support from our community, and are excited to have this picnic table at our program just in time for some outdoor meals.
Dane began working at Denny’s Restaurant in January of 2015. He has proven to be a dedicated employee and has participated in many different job duties including cleaning the dining area and the kitchen and helping to wash dishes. The staff at Denny’s thoroughly enjoys working with Dane and think of him as a wonderful employee.
-Krystal Fortin, Senior Case Manager