“A chance, that’s all I wanted…An interview later and I was hired into a temporary position as a scanner. Six months later, I was offered a full time position as an Operations Coordinator. One of the perks of the job was being able to participate in a company weight loss program and in less than a year, I lost 97 lbs.! The very best part, I’ve been in remission of my symptoms the entire time I’ve worked here! I can’t thank my work-family enough for all the support they have given me. Thank you Pioneer Valley Financial for recognizing my talents and believing in me!” -Danielle Goodwin, Operations Coordinator, Pioneer Valley Financial Group, LLC
Joseph Tonelli has been working with HRU since 2012 providing transportation for adults with developmental disabilities. Joe says his job is a good fit for him because he likes to drive and, more importantly, he gets to work side by side with people who may have a similar illness or other disabilities. Joe believes that everyone faces obstacles in their lives, but it’s how we deal with our problems that make us who we are. “I am a man living with a mental illness, but I do not let this illness determine who I am as a person. I do not make the illness an excuse, but a challenge to overcome in myself.”
Jackie came into Tradewinds in January 2012 wanting to better her life. With Tradewinds help, she began working in transitional employment positions and seasonal jobs, then was hired by the Sturbridge Host Hotel and Conference Center in housekeeping. That position led to her current job at Marshall’s where Jackie works cleaning the break room and other areas of the store. Jackie’s life has changed so much since she first walked through the doors of Tradewinds. She has removed herself from an abusive relationship, has her own apartment and many friends. Jackie has also reached one of her goals, which was to work for Marshall’s. Marshall’s is very happy with Jackie’s work and considers Jackie a great fit with their organization.
Human Resources Unlimited is a wonderful agency and has helped me change my life. For a number of years I stayed at to care for my children. I barely left the house and was disconnected from the world around me. I became very depressed and required hospitalization. Through the hospital I was connected with the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC) and thier services, and they connected me with HRU who helped me join the world again by getting a job. The thought of working made me so nervous and scared but I met with the HRU staffwho were so kind and compassionate and eased my nerves. They offered me the opportunity to participate in a 16 week Changing Habits Transforming Lives job readiness program. They told me that through this program they would teach me the skills I needed to get a job. The program addressed my physical, emotional and educational well-being. Each class built on my skills and offered me new ways to look at things. I looked forward to going to the program and seeing my friends. I could feel myself changing and I liked the new me. Everything was going great and I was so happy. HRU then surprised me again. They told me about this job at Wilbraham & MOnson Academy and they thought I would be perfect for it. I was hired and have been working for 4 months now. I love my job and my new life. Everyone who sees me comments on how I’ve changed and how fabulous I look. Thank You Human Resources Unlimited.
I was isolating myself and suffering from depression when I became a member of Lighthouse in March of 2012. I joined the program hoping it would help me, and since the last day of my orientation, I have been working at the snack bar and the reception desk. At Lighthouse I’ve learned many skills including working the cash register, preparing and selling meal tickets and stocking the shelves and refridgerator. I enjoy going to Lighthouse every day now. I’ve met a lot of new people and my depression symptoms have improved because I feel better about myself. Lighthouse helped me with my resume and to find a part-time, temporary job. I was employed by CHD for six months and I had perfect attendance. I can now use them for a good reference. I have set a goal for my future and that is to find a permanent job.
I was diagnosed with Bi-Polar disorder when I was in my early 30’s. Since my original diagnosis, I have been hospitalized numerous times and tried several medications until I was able to get my illness under control. When I was in my early 40’s, my doctor stated that I wouldn’t be able to hold a job due to my illness. I believed this and lost several jobs during that time, until I became a member of the Lighthouse back in July 2011. I started going to Lighthouse every day, volunteering in their different units and, by October 2011, they helped me find a six-month temporary position working as a page at the Springfield Central Library. I enjoyed the job very much and the Library provided me with additional opportunities to learn by working at 3 different library locations. Since then I have applied for a position extension and for permanent positions in the Library system. I have been working for the City for a little over a year now and for the first time I can say that I really look forward to going to work. I go in early on my scheduled days because I enjoy the work and my co-workers, who have helped me a great deal in understanding the job. I would like to thank Lighthouse and its staff for placing me in a great job. If It wasn’t for them, I probably would not be working.
IN EARLY 2010, Alisha was tired of job searching and going on interviews that never resulted in a job and despaired of ever getting “somewhere in life.” She longed to be able to tell her kids when she dropped them off at school that “mommy has to go to work.” Coming to the realization that she really wanted to get a job was the first step for Alisha.
Thinking about reasons she may not have been successful in applying for previous jobs, Alisha recognized that she didn’t possess the appropriate skills for some jobs. That night she sat down and wrote a list of goals. The first was that she wanted to find a job that would make her happy; where she could use the skills she already possessed. She loved working with and getting to know new people, so she thought a receptionist, office position or something in customer service might be a good fit.
Referred to HRU’s Workforce Alternatives program by the Department of Transitional Assistance, Alisha began taking a clerical class. At first, it was difficult to take this new opportunity seriously: she was ashamed that she didn’t have the same skill level as others in the group. But the Workforce Alternatives staff, especially Olga, wouldn’t let her give up. Alisha found out about an open position at an insurance company and she was really interested but the minimum typing requirement was 25 words per minute. She thought it impossible for her to get her typing speed to that level because she was currently typing only 11 wpm. She wanted that position badly, so with her own positive attitude, Olga’s encouragement, and many hours of typing practice, Alisha applied for the position. She typed 26 WPM and got the job!
Even though Alisha is now working and bringing home a truly livable wage, she still receives support and encouragement from Workforce Alternatives staff. Alisha said that the Workforce Alternatives program “helped her realize that she could accomplish a lot.” Now that she has a job and has seen how happy it’s made her and her family, she has set her next goal: to go to college and become a pharmacist!
TRAVIS HAS BEEN A MEMBER OF THE PYRAMID PROGRAM since graduating high school in 2009. Pyramid project has provided Travis with a vast array of social activities that have allowed him to be a part of his community. Travis enjoys going to the mall, local parks, pet therapy, participating in Pyramid’s “Coffee Club” and helping HRU become a “green” organization by beginning a recycling initiative at the program which has been quite successful. Travis also enjoys music therapy where he has the opportunity to sing and play different instruments. Travis stated “Pyramid is my favorite place to be, I like helping people out at Pyramid.” Travis’ schedule includes providing program tours to visitors and greeting our guests. If you are interested in seeing Pyra- mid, make sure to ask for Travis who will be happy to be your tour guide.
AMY HAS BEEN AN ACTIVE MEMBER OF THE PYRAMID PROGRAM since February 2004. Over the past several years, Amy has demonstrated many positive changes in her life. Amy’s determination and constant drive to be independent has made her a role model for her Pyramid peers. Through recreational activities offered at the program, such as air hockey, basketball, soccer, and games on the Wii, Amy increases her mobility, range of motion and independence skills. Amy actively assists staff with essential programmatic responsibilities such as distributing daily schedules and delivering inter-office mail. Amy loves to socialize and has learned to express herself effectively through written words. She enjoys frequenting various places throughout the community, including malls, movies, the Big E, and Sturbridge Village. During her personal time, Amy gives back to the community by volunteering and was recently involved in a fund raiser which benefited the Haiti relief fund.
IN THE LATE 1970’S, Virginia was working at MassMutual Financial Group when she first experienced symptoms of mental illness and was subsequently hospitalized. Unable to return to work, she struggled for the next 8 years. In 1986, Virginia was introduced to a Springfield program called Lighthouse. She understood that in this “clubhouse” she would find support to help her get back to work, develop friendships and get assistance with her mental health and substance abuse issues.
When Virginia first walked into Light- house she felt like she finally belonged somewhere. After 8 years of being unable to return to work, Virginia was eager to get a job, but didn’t know where to start. Her illness kept her isolated and the thought of work was completely overwhelming. At first, socializing with other members was all she could do, but slowly, she became involved in the work units and, because of the relationships and support she received, found herself building confidence and self-esteem. Virginia returned to work through the Clubhouse’s Transitional Employment Program and joined the staff of the American Red Cross. Virginia says that without Lighthouse’s support, she would have remained out of work permanently.
REFLECTING BACK ON THE PAST 24 YEARS, VIRGINIA SAYS, “THERE HAVE BEEN MANY UPS AND DOWNS IN MY LIFE, BUT THE ONE CONSTANT AND GOOD THING HAS BEEN LIGHTHOUSE.”
Through Lighthouse, she has remained an active and proud member of the workforce, has gone back to school and earned word processing certification from Springfield Technical Community College, and most importantly, maintained strong relationships that have been the key to her recovery. Today, Virginia is a very different person from the one who walked through the doors in 1986. She is happily married and well into her recovery from mental illness, the focus of her work at Lighthouse now is supporting other members as they work to overcome the same obstacles.