Stories of Recovery: Laura
Laura came to The Bridge 10 years ago, referred by the New York State Psychiatric Institute. She had been a freelance journalist for 25 years and was also educated in computer-creative arts.
Laura is currently in Bridge housing and takes part in job retention coaching services and individualized recovery planning. She took part in vocational, employment placement, and job coaching services for 8 years. The first job she got was a stipend job in the library at The Bridge headquarters where she worked from 2004 to 2007. Laura fondly recalls of her library work experience, "I had to be disciplined in a more conventional way than I had known in freelance work. It was structured and I was taught the conventions of a job like showing up on time, deadlines and wearing the proper clothes, and loved it. Employment is powerful medicine."
Laura went on to hold positions at The Container Store and Tasti-D-Lite before finding her calling in 2011 to become a Peer Counselor. She began the 6-month Peer Training Program at the Howie The Harp Advocacy Center (HTH) and graduated in July of 2012. The program, designed for people with a history of psychiatric disorders seeking employment in human services, allowed her to use her personal experience to help other peers seeking recovery services within the mental health care system. Laura started in an internship at Harlem Hospital's psychiatric unit. She then went on to become a Peer Counselor at New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) Central Office, where she has been for over a year, co-faciliatates groups for patients on how to stay healthy after the hospital and throughout ongoing recovery. She is hoping to get State certified as a Peer Counselor in the near future through The Academy of Peer Services.
Laura has been published in the Summer 2014 issue of Behavioral Health News, the same issue also features an article by Bridge CEO, Dr. Peter Beitchman. Her article "From A Home To A Career" (page 15) chronicles her story in her own words – "rock-solid bottom line: I could never keep a job without mental health supportive housing. I can't even imagine maintaining a viable employment search from a friend's couch, a city shelter, or a preferred bench at Penn Station." Read the full article HERE.
Laura says of The Bridge, "the great majority of staff have been extraordinary in their passion and intelligence. It sounds like a fairytale, but they have been pretty astounding. I'm perpetually impressed and am proud to be a part of The Bridge. If I can inspire those thinking about working that they can do it, then I feel I am giving back to The Bridge. Never give up, ever."