Adrienne and her family were referred to Options Rapid Rehousing Program following an emergency shelter stay. In rapid rehousing, Adrienne and her three children ages 16,14, and 7 found stability and had the support of a knowledgeable housing case manager.
“Nadia has been great to me. She kept pushing me even when I didn’t want to push myself. I’m working now, and she helped me get my Section 8 (housing vo...ucher) through whatever paperwork I needed. She made it happen, and I thank her for everything that she has done for me”.
Rapid Rehousing provides short term rent assistance (up to 24 mos.) Once Adrienne obtained the housing voucher, she transitioned from the program. Her landlord accepted the voucher and she and her family are now able to stay in their home.
Shari has three children ages 12, 10 and 5. The 10-year-old has limited speech and is on the Autism Spectrum. Shari was living in a shelter and was not enrolled in any services prior to coming to Options.
“When I first came to Options Rapid Rehousing Program (RRH) things were very rough. I just felt so helpless. My world was out of control, and I felt lost and alone. Then things started getting better with the help of... Nadia, my Housing Specialist. Nadia helped me to find my voice. She never ignored me or said what I wanted to hear. She said what I needed to hear to get my life back on track. It was a relief to know that I wasn’t alone. Now I can advocate for myself. I was able to get in contact with the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) and get services for my son. I am now enrolled in a health insurance plan so I can get the therapy and help that I need. Everything is falling in line so nicely. I am very thankful for Options for Community Living. Thank you so much. I am getting everything that I need to improve my life”.
Shari received a housing voucher that allowed her to secure a three-bedroom apartment in western Nassau County. New to the community, Nadia connected Shari with school and community resources in the area.
My name is Michele, and I was diagnosed with Bipolar 1 disorder and Generalized Anxiety in 1998. However, looking back, I certainly struggled with it all my life. I began my career in early childhood education and eventually became the Director of a preschool and after school program. I got involved in the community providing trainings and workshops for educators and became a state approved mentor for other early childh...ood programs. I later opened my own business providing social coaches for children with ADHD, autism, and other disorders, and individual training and support groups for parents. I was a bit of a workaholic which put stress on me and my marriage. I thought I had things under control, but a series of life-altering events led to a suicide attempt in January 2017. I should not have survived, but thanks to family, friends and amazing doctors, I did. A stay at a psychiatric hospital followed. While in the hospital, I agreed to apply for SPA housing. I went from the hospital directly into a homeless shelter. After a short period of time, I was granted housing through Options. Options provided me with a beautiful home, a room of my own, and a case manager that changed my life.
Stephanie met with me each week to discuss my present circumstances and future goals. She kept reminding me that recovery takes time. In 2019, I was still in Options housing but had been transitioned to a different housing case manager. I was referred to a new Options program called Home and Community Based Services, where I would be able to receive support to continue my education. As it would turn out, Stephanie would become my case manager once again. She helped me apply for training to become a peer specialist. A few weeks later she called to see if I was interested in applying for a peer specialist position at Options.
Being employed by Options was a game changer. It was the first time I didn’t have to hide my mental illness. My personal struggles were turned into lessons to encourage others. Being a peer allows clients to relate to me on a different level. I may not have lived their experience, but I have lived AN experience. I try to help them understand that their diagnosis does not define them. When I was first diagnosed the most important lesson I learned was to not say I am bipolar, but rather that I have bipolar. People with cancer do not say, “I am cancer.” It’s something they have. Just the same, bipolar is not who I am. It is something that I have. It’s a diagnosis, not a definition.
I now have my provisional certification as a peer specialist, and I’ve been working for 3 years. Options has played a pivotal role in both my personal and professional life. I continue to receive the support I need from Options staff and then in turn I can provide support and encouragement to others facing their own struggles. Back in 2017, I had no hope, no vision, no sense of self-worth. But with my family, my treatment team, and Options, I have been able to not only survive, but thrive.
My name is Traci, and I am HIV+ with CDC defined AIDS. I started dabbling with marijuana in my teens in 1976. I married an IV drug user three years later in 1979, and by 1988 I was crack addicted. HIV was all around me. My hometown of Hempstead was a Red Zone – an epidemic in terms of AIDS and drugs.
Prior to my diagnosis, I was in a fog and my addiction was at an all-time high, but I didn’t think I had a problem. Aft...er becoming homeless in 1990, I decided to try a Therapeutic Community (TC) called Topic House for drug and alcohol rehabilitation. I was clean for 9 months, met a guy and left the program. I went back out and used again.
In 2000, I got very sick. I wasn’t eating and I started to lose weight. Someone suggested that I get tested for HIV, so I went to Family and Children’s Association in Hempstead. The testing took place in a 4×4 room, and I had to wait 15 days for my results. When I went back, I was ready for the diagnosis. They told me I was HIV positive, and I wasn’t surprised. My first medical appointment was at the HIP center. I was treated very poorly – there was no confidentiality, no concern. I left and never wanted to go back there or to any doctor. I shut down.
At some point that year, I found an Options pamphlet. Fear of dying brought me to their office in Hempstead. They took my information and said someone would call me, which they did. The voice on the other end was warm and friendly. My case manager came to my house and did my intake. I remember her very well because she cared. I had already accepted I was going to die but she encouraged me to seek treatment. She linked me to Nassau University Medical Center and accompanied me to all my appointments.
I found my voice when I began attending a day program at Catholic Charities. Education and peer support was crucial, and therapy helped me like myself again. Along the way I have had many case managers, and each one has given me a different gift that made me stronger. I have walked for the cure, I’ve lobbied in Albany, and sat on numerous client advisory boards, including the Nassau/Suffolk Planning Counsel and United Way of Long Island. I have come a long way.
In July 2017, I became one of the first 45 Certified Peer Navigators in the State of New York. My greatest accomplishment is that I am employed by my beloved Options for Community Living. Now I am that warm voice on the other end of the phone, the friendly face at the door. I am giving back what was so freely given to me over 20 years ago.
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