From stable, independent clients to satisfied providers – PDG’s superior behavioral health services foster an environment of trust, empathy, hope, and success.
One Giant Success
In 2013, JJ was 39 years old and lived in Odenton, MD. He was trying to manage his major depressive disorder diagnosis, suicidal thoughts, and drug abuse, but struggling to find the right resources. JJ had two children he wasn’t able to see often and hadn’t been able to maintain employment. Despite his obstacles, JJ didn’t stop trying. JJ started getting the counseling he needed. He also enrolled in programs with two different rehabilitation agencies, but they didn’t have the support he was looking for. There, “people would fall asleep listening to you,” JJ said.
Finally, his therapist at Vesta, Inc. referred him to PDG’s Psychiatric Rehabilitation Program (PRP) and he began services 9/26/13. Through the PRP, JJ found real, compassionate, and intelligent support. JJ’s care coordinator worked with him on a mental health treatment plan, housing, staying clean, creating a safety plan, and avoiding hospitalizations. JJ said his mental health care coordinators “helped me out getting a lot of stuff done that I didn’t think could get done.”
As JJ’s recovery progressed, JJ also enrolled in the PDG vocational program on 1/13/14 to search for employment. Then, when JJ was denied SSDI benefits, he also began working with PDG’s SOAR program to submit an SSDI benefits appeal. Unfortunately, JJ was denied benefits again, but JJ was thankful for the help he received from all his mental health care coordinators and employment specialists: “they was all wonderful!”
In 2015, JJ was still happy and active with PDG. JJ had joined the PRP Day Program, and “that helped a lot,” JJ explained. “People cared and I started hearing stories from other people going through the same thing.” After years of hard work and active participation in all programs, JJ got a job with Giant Food on 3/8/17 in the meat and seafood department. His hours increased as his managers saw how reliable he was, and after almost four years, in July 2017 JJ decided to leave PDG.
In January 2018, JJ’s former care coordinator ran into him. Sometimes, these meetings show how the consumer may have needed to stay in services or how the consumer still struggles. But not this time – JJ’s successes didn’t stop with PDG. JJ is training to be the manager of the meat and seafood department at Giant. He was able to save enough money to purchase his own car, a long-term goal he’d had in order to access his community and see his children more often. JJ increased his social interaction and is even able to provide emotional support to a neighbor that was sick. JJ is now playing a more active role in his children’s lives due to his financial stability, transportation availability, and mental stability.
No one could have done all this except JJ. His commitment to his own health over the years allowed him to move forward and upward, and PDG is proud to have helped him on that path. When asked what he felt could be improved at PDG, JJ couldn’t think of anything. “PDG was wonderful,” JJ recounted. “I was glad I got a chance to work with you guys… you guys listen and care.”
Michael loves baseball statistics. Every visit, Michael’s table is piled high with old, faded cards, baseball books, and pencils. “I love it,” Michael says, “but it’s just a hobby.”
Michael joined PDG’s supported employment program in October 2015. Though Michael’s off time was filled up with baseball, his work experience was in dishwashing and stocking. Michael’s resume boasted over 15 years working in kitchens and five years as a stocker. Moreover, Michael was honorably discharged from the military and had a loving wife and family supporting him.
So why did Michael need to enter PDG’s vocational program?
“My PTSD really f**** me up,” Michael bluntly told his vocational specialist during intake. Events from his childhood had caused Michael to suffer a lifetime of untreated PTSD and depression. It was only as an adult that Michael sought help and began medication. Unfortunately, it wasn’t before Michael lost his employer of almost 18 years due to angry outbursts and altercations on the job. Since then, Michael had trouble holding on to employment and didn’t know where to go for help.
Fortunately, Michael found PDG. After less than six months with the program, Michael and his vocational specialist were preparing for his first day in a new busser position with a popular restaurant. Michael’s PDG aide also helped him manage his new medications and PTSD symptoms, thus ensuring his long term success. As a team, Michael and his providers worked to prevent outbursts and prepare for triggers.
Eight months later, Michael is thriving; he found his fit in the restaurant and with the staff.
“How you doing, Sarge?” one server asked when Michael and his vocational specialist recently walked into work. “We missed you!”
“I’m very happy with him,” Michael’s direct supervisor stated in the same visit. “He’s a big part of the team.”
Michael smiled. “Everybody loves me here,” he told his specialist.
Michael’s success doesn’t end just with him. His wife and family are also affected. In another visit, Michael’s wife told the Family Advocacy Survey about her experiences with PDG:
“I think PDG is a great organization that helps the family members, especially when you have problems communicating to your loved ones and you’re having a hard time, you can use them for guidance. Michael feels more confident. PDG has helped with keeping him on balance and they helped him find a job. He likes his new job and PDG helps me by being more people and support in his life. Having a job has helped with his nightmares too. It’s good to know you can always turn to PDG for strength, and if it wasn’t for PDG, I would be lost.”
Michael’s success is ongoing and will involve other challenges, but it’s clear to see that support and hard work have positively impacted his life. At the end of his most recent visit with his vocational specialist, the specialist asked him if he needed anything else before she left.
Michael shrugged and said with a big smile, “maybe a million dollars.”
Job Coach for a Job Coach
Ola and I began working together in 2015. Ola had previously been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and struggled with debilitating depressive symptoms. These symptoms had prevented her from maintaining employment; in fact, her last job deteriorated over several months as Ola fell into depression and refused to leave her house.
When we began, Ola said she wanted a position in job coaching and community outreach. Ola was worried, though, about her ability to stay committed to a company. So we focused our time not just on applications and lead development, but on finding the right fit. It was important that Ola look for a company and position that not only provided the right atmosphere for her, but afforded her opportunities to change and grow that would keep Ola motivated long term. Ola and I also worked on increasing community job development and improving Ola’s interview skills.
As Ola felt more comfortable and confident in her PDG support and in herself, she attended and did well in several interviews. It wasn’t long before the job offers came in. Ola and I carefully reviewed her options and Ola chose to work for a smaller company that paid less in order for her to feel comfortable with new duties, and more heard by her supervisor. Ola chose not to disclose and opted for part time hours.
We got to work right away – I helped Ola off-site to develop coping skills in order to prevent the ever-possible depressive episodes. Ola and I also addressed concerns she had about her new duties.
Through her hard work and consistent support from her mental health team, Ola has now been working successfully for more than six months. Ola takes PRN medication and uses self-care and coping skills to effectively manage her depressive symptoms. Only a few months into her new position, Ola chose to disclose. Thanks in part to Ola’s flexible and accommodating supervisor, Ola has incrementally increased her hours to full time without triggering any major symptoms.
Life hasn’t quit throwing Ola more trials; recently Ola and her husband filed for divorce and Ola moved out of her home. Despite this upset that would rock the most stable of mental foundations, Ola has turned to her work as a distraction and committed herself to excelling despite this change. Ola reports loving her job and she has a plan for growth within the company. I coordinate regularly with her supervisor, who is also dedicated to helping Ola achieve her full potential. Despite Ola’s obstacles, she’s learned to manage her personal and professional life. Ola’s dedication and good attitude will help her continue to grow and succeed in the field she loves.
A Real Sweet Deal
After years of studying with area beekeepers, Lyle Bradford launched the Keep ‘em Buzzin Apiaries and Honey Bee Farm on his six-acre property located in La Plata, MD.
Soon, the Keep ‘em Buzzin Apiaries and Honey Bee Farm will sell a wide array of honey as well as bee and honey byproducts, including liquid, comb, and creamed honey; beeswax; beeswax candles; honey or beeswax soaps; aromatherapy products; pollen; and propolis. Customers will also be able to purchase beehives and beehive components, queen bees, packaged bees, and nucs (mini hives). Lyle Bradford states,
“I am committed to provide pure and natural honey and honey products to area consumers for a healthier and happier life.”
Future plans also call for an Adopt-a-Hive program that will allow interested individuals to have a hive in their home, but not have to worry about the weekly care associated with honey bees. Lyle will also offer pollination services for small to medium crops.
In addition to the tremendous amount of hard work and energy, Lyle has invested in this enterprise, the Southern Maryland Small Business Development Center, the MD Division of Rehabilitation Services, and the RISE Program all played integral parts in the planning and funding of this business.
Lyle’s honey products are available at the Waldorf Farmer’s Market every Saturday from 8 am to 1 pm, at the Charles Street Bakery in Waldorf, and from Lyle’s farm in La Plata. Want to visit? Contact Lyle through the company’s Facebook page.