The mission of CHD is to help people make positive life changes that lead to happier, more successful lives. It’s not always easy to make the necessary changes that lead to a better life, but the majority of our clients are ready to take that first step – and we are here to make the journey with them. Meet two CHD clients who have turned their lives around, with our help.
Eugenio is a shining example of someone whose experience with CHD was positively life changing. A troubled teen, Eugenio was engaging in risky behavior that brought him to the attention of the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services (DYS). They referred him to CHD’s Juvenile Justice Division, and in November of 2011, he entered CHD’s Secure Residential Treatment (SRT) program.
In the beginning, Eugenio had difficulty engaging with peers and staff. He refused to follow rules or engage in treatment – and often lashed out at staff and other residents. But eventually, through group and individual therapy, and a deep connection with some of the staff members, something changed for Eugenio. He became more respectful and responsible. He saw a future for himself and even became “chore foreman” at the house – the position of highest responsibility.
Eugenio put this time in the SRT program to good use. He participated in SRT’s Greenhouse program, became the first person to receive supervised on-grounds passes, and got a job performing landscaping work at the facility. Last year, he won first place in the Children’s Art League Art Contest for his drawing on the concept of “thankfulness.” His artwork was made into greeting cards for purchase, which was a tremendous boost for his self-esteem and showed him the possibilities for a productive future. But by far, one of Eugenio’s greatest accomplishments was graduating from high school while he was in the program.
Eugenio now takes courses at a local community college and is focused on learning a trade. He hopes to visit military recruiters, participate in more art projects, and gain job experience. Eugenio also wants to participate in a program called “Learning Opportunities” provided by DYS to increase awareness and understanding of youths in the juvenile justice system for others in the community. Most importantly, Eugenio is transitioning to a community program. All of us at CHD are so proud of him!
Elda Sara was a teacher. She earned a Master’s degree in special education from American International College in Springfield, MA. For many years, she taught at Brightside School in West Springfield, and she adored her students. Then, due to multiple undiagnosed and untreated mental health issues, Elda Sara lost her job and fell into a downward spiral. She found herself unable to comprehend where she was or even who she was. She was hospitalized for over two months, while doctors worked to assess her condition and begin treatments. Elda Sara was finally diagnosed with chronic depression, multiple personality disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
After her release from the hospital, Elda Sara was placed in CHD’s S.T.A.R. day treatment program. S.T.A.R. (which stands for Springfield Transitions and Recovery) provides a coordinated combination of treatment, rehabilitation, and recovery-oriented services for adults with serious mental illness. Clients participate in group psychotherapy and counseling, psychoeducation, and skills training. Additionally, they receive cognitive remediation and service coordination from an extensive caring staff. When she first arrived at the clinic on State Street a couple of years ago, Elda Sara felt shy and unsure. But in time she began to make friends and become more social and more confident. Elda Sara now attends the program four days a week. She received treatment from CHD’s occupational therapy clinic and continues with a therapist who uses dialectical behavior therapy in addition to her group work, both of which she finds very helpful.
Elda Sara was able to become a mentor and teacher again by participating in, and eventually even facilitating a peer run group. This allows her to extend her hand to other clients. Today she facilitates a substance abuse support group, and with 16 years of sobriety, sets a positive example for her peers. She also attends groups to help cope with anxiety and promote self-advocacy, and relaxes by crafting handmade hats and scarves for Shriner’s Hospital. When she’s not doing all of that, Elda Sara writes poetry, plays guitar and harmonica, and does artwork. She is extremely grateful for what S.T.A.R. has done for her life, and the CHD community is proud of her exceptional transformation into a peer leader and role model for fellow clients.