Clare in front of JEVS Tikvah Residence, where she has found both independence and support.
Home at Last – Starting a New Life at Tikvah Residence
Clare B. has a lifelong history of depression, and for many years she did not always adhere to her prescribed medication treatment. This noncompliance came to a head in 2006 when Clare became violent and ended up in prison.
After serving one year, Clare was committed by the court to a four-year stay at a community residential rehabilitation facility, or CRR—a supervised group home for individuals with mental health challenges that is staffed 24 hours a day.
Near the end of that term, the CRR was approached by a staff member at JEVS Tikvah Residence, which was accepting applications for an opening at that facility.
Tikvah Residence provides housing and support for adults with mental health needs. However, unlike a CRR, the residence is not a group home, but an apartment building consisting of eight private units. JEVS staff members provide services to help each resident lead an active and healthy life, but are not on-site 24 hours a day, giving residents more autonomy.
“Being at Tikvah Residence has helped me to be comfortable with myself and allowed me to achieve my goals.”
Clare took to the idea right away. “I liked that I would be living in the same building as people in similar circumstances, but I would have my independence. Plus it was close to my family.”
The apartment was completely remodeled before Clare moved in.
“After being in prison and then a CRR, when I got here I started to feel like things were normal again. I started to regain my independence and self-esteem. Prison can be kinda tough, and here I was able to get my dignity back.”
Clare appreciates the difference between Tikvah Residence and the CRR. “At the CRR, you get put in with 2 or 3 people that you never met before, who all have mental health disabilities and are at different stages of treatment and so on. Here we each have our own place and there is no pressure on us. We have our freedom. And the staff is always looking for creative ways to improve our lives. They have been caring, honest, and helpful.”
Kim Waller is the lead mentor associate at Tikvah Residence. “I keep things running, check up on the residents and make sure everybody is compliant and meeting the goals they set for themselves.”
Clare values the support from staff as well as the privacy. “If someone is looking for independence and support at the same time, this place is perfect. You can have your own space—if you want to be alone you can close the door, and if you want to be around people you can knock on a door.”
Clare enjoys spending time with the other residents, but when she first arrived she had to work to develop those relationships. “I was not shy about the fact that I had been to prison, so they might have been a little tentative at first, but I was able to explain to them that it was because I had made a big mistake, and that wasn’t going to happen again.”
As she settled into her new home and earned the trust of the other residents, Clare realized that her history and prison experience could be helpful in mentoring others, so she began volunteering at Welcome House, a facility whose mission is to offer hope, respect, and opportunity to persons recovering from mental illness.
Clare took that mission to heart. “There were people at Welcome House that I had seen in prison, and I thought I could help them.” So Clare decided to go even further and became a certified peer specialist. This in turn enabled her to get hired by Welcome House in 2014 where she is now paid to help members in various ways, such as with their yearly assessments.
Clare also volunteers at Compeer which matches volunteer mentors with individuals who have mental health challenges. She is not only an active mentor, she is also helping the program director expand the range of services.
Not content to stop there, Clare is a director on three different boards: Compeer, Welcome House and Tikvah Residence itself, where she helps staff organize activities, including the weekly communal dinners which give residents the chance to check in with each other.
“Arriving at Tikvah Residence was such a load off my shoulders. It has helped me to be comfortable with myself and allowed me to achieve my goals. I’m doing more of the things I always wanted to do and never did. I had always thought my diagnosis was who I was, but now I am starting over.”