Consumer Success Stories

Quintin Blackwell has a lot to say and a lot to be proud of. He’s a shining example of how much an individual can achieve when he believes in his potential. In other words, he’s the embodiment of an Everyday Hero.

In 2010, Quintin began working with SCCMHA due to the negative direction his life was taking. He had been placed in foster care at Beacon Harbor, and was struggling with defiant behavior, aggression and disrespect of authority. With the help of his support coordinator Melissa Taylor, teacher Marcus Durand, and the supportive staff at Beacon Harbor, Quintin began a behavior treatment plan (BTP) and started special education classes. He worked hard on paying attention in the classroom, respecting authority and having a strong sense of self.

Quintin’s hard work paid off. He made significant progress with his BTP, which he completed in 2014. He was able to return to his schooling at the Transitions Center and graduated in 2015. After graduation he took a job at SVRC Industries, and because of his can-do attitude and stellar work ethic, Quintin earned a promotion to the SVRC hotel crew as a housekeeper.

“I have a terrific job,” Quintin says.

Quintin’s goal has always been to live independently, and he set that as his goal of person-centered planning every year. The Beacon Harbor staff supported his goal by teaching him skills that would allow him to someday live on his own. Again, Quintin’s hard work and determination paid off. In March 2016, he moved into a semi-independent apartment.

Quintin enjoys that he has accomplished so much. “It feels great,” he says. “I made it into a home and I’m good at my job.” In his spare time, Quintin likes to play video games, especially sports-related games. “Basketball is my favorite,” he says. He hopes one day to own his own car and get a job at a plant somewhere.

“I’m proud of what I’ve done,” Quintin says. “I’m excited about what I will be in the future.” And we are all proud of this Everyday Hero, too.

Lelon Chism knows that as long as you have a dream and determination, you can do amazing things.

“When I was young, it was my dream to play basketball,” this Everyday Hero says. “It made me believe and try hard. It helped me stay out of trouble.”

When Lelon began working with the SCCMHA Supported Employment Department, he saw an opportunity to turn his love of basketball into a gift – by becoming a coach for kids in the community.

“I hope that by helping kids who have that same dream, they’ll also stay out of trouble,” he says. Lelon began working towards his goal, but his journey wasn’t with- out obstacles. He was told that because of his educational status, he wouldn’t be able to pass the courses he needed to become certified. Then Lelon looked for places to hold his very own training camp, but he wasn't able to find a permanent facility to house it.

But Lelon never gave up. He reached out to his staff and the Supported Employment Department, and with their help, Lelon came up with the next best solution: finding employment with an existing agency. And soon, the Saginaw YMCA hired Lelon to run a basketball camp.

Today, Lelon coaches elementary, junior high and high school children to become great community athletes. “I teach the basic fundamentals of basketball,” Lelon says. “Although I teach kids of all levels, my goal is to always try and get the ones who haven’t had much training.”

Thanks to his coaching and belief in them, every athlete Lelon has trained has become successful in making their school’s team and being a valued player.

Lelon has one final piece of advice for everyone. “Never give up on your dreams and always believe in yourself. Believe in the people behind us, who are trying to help us. Trust in God, He will help us. Give it a chance and make it work. You can do it.”

Truly motivational words from a truly motivational Everyday Hero.

“The way to get started is to quit talking and start doing.” That’s one of the many motivational phrases Tina Colpean has posted on her Facebook page. It’s also a quote that embodies the attitude and spirit that make her one of our Everyday Heroes.

A year ago, Tina came to SCCMHA looking for services to help the well-being of her family. Even in the midst of crisis and despair, she impressed the staff with her understanding of the challenges facing her and her determination to make things better for her children.

Tina began attending parenting classes including Caring for Children who have Experienced Trauma Resource Parent training. As she started to see positive results for herself and her family, Tina began advocating for additional support services her family needed in order to be successful.

As her family started to heal, Tina started to heal as well, which allowed her to grow. She grew as a member in our Empowered to Reach and Teach Families team, eventually being elected chair of the committee. She grew by completing the training series for Resource Parent Trainer, and is now a consistent parent co-trainer for that curriculum. And she grew by interviewing for and receiving a position as a Peer Support Specialist for Saginaw Psychological Services.

“I truly believe in this job,” says Tina. “I feel that if someone had been there to do something for my mom, maybe things would have been different in our household when I was growing up. My goal is to be that person for the families I help.”

These days, Tina enjoys playing Yahtzee, going on vacations with her family and just spending time with her children. She’s actively working towards an associate’s degree in criminal justice, and is excited to see where the road will take her.

Tina, you are amazing – not just because of how you’ve helped your family, but for everything you do to empower and support the families and individuals you come in contact with. For them, as well as for us, you truly are an Everyday Hero.

“I hope my story can inspire people,” Matthew Goodrich says. On behalf of everyone who knows him, we can honestly say he’s more than just inspirational – he is an Everyday Hero.

Several years ago, Matthew had been released from prison and was in a dark place. But he was ready and willing to make positive changes to his life. He began services with SCCMHA in 2010, which included individual therapy, case management and psychiatry services. Through his treatment, he was able to gain the insight needed to understand and manage his co-occurring disorder.

Matthew completed the Thinking for Change group in 2012, finished Men’s Trauma in July of 2014, participated in the Suicide Survivors Group and began Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). In order to take charge of his life, Matthew championed himself and requested to be put on the medication he needed to prevent relapses.

Today, Matthew is proud to say he is abstinent and stable. He’s living independently, and has reached the maintenance stage of recovery. Perhaps best of all, he’s gained relationships with his daughter and granddaughter, and also is able to assist his mother, who Matthew says has been and continues to be his main support.

Recently, Matthew has had some health challenges. But he chooses not to dwell in the past and instead focuses on outcomes. He watches his diet, visits a local gym regularly and has quit smoking (he’s been smoke-free since Easter Sunday). “I have a greater respect for life now,” he says.

Matthew also spends his time in creative pursuits. One of his favorite hobbies is ordering high- quality pictures off the Internet and building custom frames for them. His beautiful framing work can be found in some of our very own SCCMHA offices! He also keeps busy by working outside and painting houses.

Matthew, you show all of us that everyone has the ability to over- come difficult life circumstances with flying colors. Your wisdom, courage and success are worthy of recognition, and that is why we name you an Everyday Hero.

Javier Guevara lives life to the fullest. He’s a happy, friendly individual whose determination to improve himself and live a life that makes him happy is why he is an Everyday Hero.

When he was four, Javier sustained a head injury that would forever alter the course of his life. In order to get the help he needed, Javier was sent to Rain- bow Rehabilitation Center, a long-term residential center for kids with closed-head injuries. Because of his head injury, Javier had to deal with partial left-side hemiparesis and seizures for many years. He also had significant behavioral problems, which at times included violent outbursts.

Thanks to the help and support he received, and because of his desire to make himself better, Javier improved and was able to return home in 1997. When he turned 18, Javier moved into an adult foster care home and finally to JubeJu Supported Independent housing, where he lives today.

All this would be enough to make Javier an Everyday Hero. But, never content to settle, Javier still wanted more out of life. He continued special education classes and graduated in June 2008. Since graduation, he has remained fully employed at his job at SVRC Industries.

Javier has also taken steps to be in control of his health issues. He has been seizure-free for over 16 years on his current medication regime, and he now has very few problems with outbursts and aggression.

Every day Javier continues to live a purposeful life. He enjoys taking vacations, particularly going on cruises and traveling to Florida with his roommates and friends. He also enjoys being involved in his community, and takes an active part in activities around Saginaw. He loves his family very much and sees them on a regular basis.

Javier, thank you for your optimism, your positive outlook and showing all of us how to live life to the fullest – in short, thank you for being an Everyday Hero!

Alex Krease has shown us all the amazing strides an individual can achieve when he embraces his full potential. After all, that’s what an Everyday Hero does.

In July 2014, Alex began receiving services from SVRC Industries. When he started at SVRC, Alex was incredibly shy and introverted. His previous Rehabilitation Services Specialist says that most of his communication to others was done through nodding his head.

But, over time, Alex began to emerge from his shell. He slowly began to make friends as he participated in group activities and volunteered in the community. He started participating in conversations with others, slowly at first, and then more and more easily. And finally Alex stopped waiting for others to approach him and began initiating conversations.

Today, Alex is an active, happy, contributing and dedicated helper. He’s progressed from working on piece-rated tasks to working on the production floor in a minimum-wage-level job with more responsibilities. He’s made a lot of new friends at work, and he enjoys interacting with them as well as other volunteers and caseworkers. His current Rehabilitation Service Specialist says she always looks forward to Alex initiating a conversation with her.

Besides being a valued contributor at work, Alex volunteers on a weekly basis at Meals on Wheels, and he’s looking forward to volunteering in different areas when opportunities become available in the future.

On a personal level, Alex has taken an active role in recognizing the areas he needed to improve, and he has put in the effort to ensure he met the goals he set for himself. His mother, Gayle, notes that he’s become more positive, happy and outgoing at home. He helps with chores around the house, and loves taking care of his beloved cats. In his spare time, Alex enjoys playing video games, particularly team-based ones like Call of Duty, listening to music and going on walks.

Alex, you show your family, friends and community just what can be done when a person is determined to meet his goals. For believing, achieving and for many other reasons, you are definitely an Everyday Hero.

Brady Mason is a model student at Carrollton Middle School. This Everyday Hero has been a top ten student for the past two years and is well liked by his teachers and peers. But just two years ago, Brady was a completely different young man.

When we first met Brady, he was withdrawn and guarded, with a poor self-image and deep-seated negativity toward the world due to the disappointments he had faced in his young life. But Brady found the courage and determination to put himself out there.

With the support of his teacher and SCCMHA wraparound team, bit by bit, he chiseled away at the negativity that was preventing him from succeeding. He started having positive interactions with teachers and his fellow students and soon began building real friendships. He found his focus academically and started receiving high grades. Although there have been bumps on his path, Brady has overcome them, and hasn’t just risen to meet his potential – he’s soaring above it.

Let’s list a few more accomplishments Brady has achieved in the past two years. He’s earned the highest level in his Emotional Impairment (EI) program level, and is now in majority general education participation. He’s a student council member, and has performed two major roles in school theatre performances.

Brady has also found his calling in helping his peers realize their potential. He’s a peer tutor and mentor, both academically and socially (including kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder), and shares stories about his personal journey to inspire others. He has high expectations for others, but that’s only because he knows they can reach them.

Brady’s teacher Lynsey Welmers says that when a new student with extreme behavior issues enters their school’s program, Brady is the one who reminds the class to be patient and empathetic, saying, “Hey, remember – we were all there once.”

From a student in the shadows to a student in the spotlight, Brady shows us how far someone can go when he knows who he wants to be. He is an Everyday Hero to his peers, to his teachers and to all of us.

Here's what Tim Howard of Training & Treatment Innovations (TTI) has to say about Joel Redlawsk: “If you give Joel something to do, you can be assured he will get the job done.” That’s this Everyday Hero in a nutshell.

Joel has been a certified peer support specialist for TTI since 2013, and has quickly become an integral and essential part of his team. He’s incredibly popular with co-workers and consumers alike because of his warm personality and knack for connecting with the individuals TTI serves.

Joel is “positively outspoken,” and uses his natural extroversion to bring a smile to the face of everyone he meets. He’s a natural leader and mentor and currently co-facilitates a group on co-occurring disorders. He openly shares his own recovery story as inspiration and encouragement.

“One of my favorite parts of my job is when people receive hope, joy, relief and empowerment in our meetings,” says Joel. “I love seeing quality of life return to people in recovery as they continue their journey.”

“Enthusiasm” is a word that comes up quite a bit when talking about Joel. He enthusiastically advocates for the consumers he serves, and goes out of his way to find resources and ways to help them. He’ll even personally take consumers to food banks or appointments, just so they’re able to get the help they need. He champions for consumers’ wellness and does everything he can to get them out and about, whether that’s taking them on walks, accompanying them to social functions or helping them search for and attend network programs.

Another word that’s used to describe Joel is “collaborative.” He wants to make sure everyone from consumers to the staff has the tools they need to be successful. He is always happy to share his knowledge with his peers in the SCCMHA system, and actively seeks out case managers to see what he can do to help them do their jobs better.

Joel was the one who spear-headed the idea of bringing Whole Health Action Management (WHAM) groups to TTI, which is a program that helps encourage increased wellness and self-management of health and behavioral health. Joel recently finished co-facilitating the first WHAM group, and he is looking to start another WHAM group soon.

Here are some words from Joel that describe his philosophy on life. “There is enough light in all of us to illuminate the dark,” he says.

That light is reflected in Joel’s can-do attitude, personable character and infectious optimism. So, here are the words we think best describe Joel: “An Everyday Hero.”

Marie Revard has a great sense of humor, cares deeply about her friends and family and loves to help others.  She is also an amazing, self-determined woman, which is why we recognize her as an Everyday Hero.

Marie has been receiving services through SCCMHA most of her life. She attended the Millet Learning Center when she was younger, and afterwards took special education classes. She graduated and received a certificate of education at the age of 26. Over the years, she has been an active and enthusiastic member of the community, volunteering at the Humane Society and the Red Cross, participating in vocational services, attending peer-oriented drop-in programs and competing in the Special Olympics.

About six years ago Marie made the decision to participate in Self Determination through SCCMHA. This initiative gave her the tools she needed to live a true self- determined lifestyle. Now, Marie makes her own choices about who provides services to her and how those services are delivered. Marie is her own best advocate, and has no problem expressing her needs, likes, wants, and desires. She manages her own personal matters with minimal assistance from supports, and she exercises her right to vote in every election.

Marie is fiercely independent and proud of the fact that she now lives on her own. She loves her cat, Ann, very much and takes excellent care of her. Marie continues to stay active in her community, and participates in a bowling league and Bible study. She has a thriving social life filled with life-long friendships. She enjoys visiting her best friend of 21 years at adult foster care once a month and she attends skill building at Guardian Angels three times a week.

“I like to go out to eat, go shopping and sing.” Marie says. “I go to the library near my house and read books. I read any book I can get my hands on!”

Marie has many great strengths and qualities that have helped her achieve such personal success. She continues to make good choices for herself, and always shows strength and perseverance. She has accomplished many good things in life and will continue to do so, which only makes sense ... because she is, after all, an Everyday Hero.

Earl Sharp shows all of us that no matter how old or young you are, you can make your goals come true through self-determination and belief in your potential. This 86-year-old Everyday Hero is a retiree from attending Community Ties South, and has officially been living a self-determined lifestyle since 2012. (But we believe he’s been living the principles of self-determination much longer than that.)

The progress Earl has made in his everyday life is a direct result of his desire to shape his life the way he wants. His dream has always been to participate in the community in a meaningful way. Because he has been his own advocate and surrounded himself with staff who believe in and support him, Earl has been able to achieve his goal of being active in his community.

Living a self-determined lifestyle allows Earl to continue to make meaningful decisions about how he lives his life. Today, Earl shares a home and staff with three other gentlemen, and thanks to their support he’s able to live safely and comfortably.

Earl, thank you for your determination and your commitment to being the very best person you can be. Because of your hard work and for everything you do to live a self-determined life today and every day, you are an Everyday Hero.