Whether helping a baby with development challenges become a thriving toddler…a family torn apart find the support to come back together…or an adult with mental illness gain independence and employment, Riverside makes a real difference in the lives of the people we serve. Here are a few of their stories that we’re proud and happy to tell…
Stories of Success
Zoey & Charlie – Early Intervention
Zoey was born prematurely at 34 weeks. Her parents, Jill and Matt, were referred to Riverside’s Early Intervention program. Certified EI specialist Leslie Bodkin and a team of clinicians worked closely with Jill and Matt so they could learn how to help Zoey reach key developmental milestones. A year later brother Charlie was born at 33 weeks, and the family linked up with Riverside again. Both children overcame their delays in speech and gross motor skills, and today they are the best of friends and love to dance around together to Beyonce and Lady Gaga!
Jenny – Regional Employment Collaborative
Jenny uses a wheelchair and a device to communicate and works hard to reach her goals despite her disabilities. For years she had wanted to work with children. Through our Western Massachusetts Employment Collaborative, her job developer located a position as a lunch monitor at a school in Longmeadow, Mass. Jenny eagerly applied and won the job. She is beloved by students, staff, and teachers, and last year was surprised on her birthday by a rousing chorus of “Happy Birthday!”
Mary – Elliot House Clubhouse
Diagnosed with schizophrenia in her 20’s, Mary feared that she faced a lifetime of dependence and confusion. At the same time, trouble with her knees meant an end to her dreams of a professional dance career. Mary bounced back and forth between group homes and hospitalizations, until in her mid-30’s she found Riverside’s Elliot House, one of the four Riverside Clubhouses. Clubhouses are supportive environments that help members regain independence and job skills, find employment, and build social connections. Soon Mary was able to live on her own, she found work at Marshalls department store, and became deeply involved in her clubhouse community. “I’m independent, happier, and a lot healthier,” she says.
Mohammed – Child and Family Services
Mohammed and his family came to Riverside when he was in the fifth grade, his mother struggling with mental health and his father with anger and emotions. Mohammed and his siblings were unhappy in foster care, away from home, their mom’s cooking, and everything familiar. Riverside clinicians and social workers worked with each member of the family, guiding his mom to mental health services and helping his parents open up to each other about their feelings and relationship challenges. With the family finally reunited, the kids were able to just be kids, and Mohammed eventually enrolled in UMass Boston. “They were able to bring us home and keep us home,” Mohammed happily recalled.
William – Behavioral Health Community Partners
William faced a lot of loss in his early years, including the deaths of his parents and siblings. He struggled with anxiety, substance use, and homelessness, and even spent several years in prison. He met Chris and Nora from Riverside’s Care Coordination team while awaiting discharge from his inpatient treatment facility. They connected him with mental health and medical health providers and community resources to gain employment and housing. “Chris assured me they wouldn’t just start and abandon me. They were there for the duration.” William has now transformed himself – reconnecting with family, learning the construction trade, and staying substance-free.
John – Shared Living & Individual Support
John, now in his 50’s, was born with a cognitive impairment. His long journey home includes a time when he lived by himself, then in a group home when he needed more support, but he fell down the stairs and sustained a brain injury. He contracted pneumonia while in the hospital but managed to pull through, and then moved into a nursing home. John was then referred to Riverside, where he was seen as a perfect candidate for Shared Living, living with a family in the community with support from Riverside. Speaking of his new home with Deb, who has known him and been his advocate for years, and her family, John says, “I’m loved and cared for…I also get to be with my new dog, Minnie, too!”