Last week, DBHDD staff provided an update on the settlement agreement between the U.S. Department of Justice and the State of Georgia at the 20th annual Rosalynn Carter Georgia Mental Health Forum held at the Carter Center. Commissioner Frank Berry, Terri Timberlake, director of adult mental health, and Dan Howell, director of intellectual and developmental disabilities, presented to stakeholders on the progress toward building a high-quality, sustainable behavioral health system in the state.
When Greg graduated from Madison County High School in 1992, he was determined to become self-sufficient. His family helped enroll him at the Fine Finish Service Center. There, Greg took part in a pre-employment program and other services. After a year and a half in the program, Greg took a job at T.J. Maxx where he still works today.
While at the center, Greg has achieved many milestones. In 2008, he learned to drive and purchased his first vehicle. He was selected as a T.J. Maxx employee of the month in 2010 and has also been promoted. In 2013, he realized a lifelong dream of moving into his own apartment.
Greg’s managers at T.J. Maxx call him an asset. He takes pride in his work, is very friendly and always willing to help in other departments or areas of the store.
Greg continues to receive supports from Fine Finish. When he isn’t working, Greg enjoys bowling, cookouts at the park, playing basketball at the church gym and using the computer at the library. He even takes cooking classes and has learned to prepare a variety of healthy meals.
Fine Finish and DBHDD are proud of Greg and his many accomplishments.
Advantage Behavioral Health Services is one of twenty-six community service boards in the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities’ statewide public safety network. Fine Finish provides developmental disability services for Advantage in Madison County. Advantagebhs.org
Donnie grew up in rural Trion, Georgia. He lived on a small farm where he enjoyed southern cooking, especially pinto beans with onion and cornbread which he still talks about regularly. In 1984, when his parents were no longer able to care for him, he was admitted to Northwest Georgia Regional Hospital.
He spent the next 27 years in various units at the hospital. In June of 2011, Donnie moved from to the Magnolia CLA in Summerville. Little did the staff know at that time the great gift they had received when this gentleman moved into his new home. Donnie had become dependent on a feeding tube and often needs oxygen to assist with his breathing. He had learned ways to deal with stress and also how to get people not to bother him. He would curse and spit. Despite his defenses, the staff at Magnolia fell in love with him instantly.
Over time his mental status was evaluated, and as much as he tried to shut people out they wanted to help him, to love him more, and for him to be happy. He was given a new medication, which seemed to have a positive effect overnight. He seemed more at peace with himself, and he doesn’t spit anymore. He still curses sometimes, but it’s usually with a smile. He hugs and smiles more, and he seems to love himself more.
Any staff that works with him can’t help but love him. He likes to give hugs now and he has become more comfortable in his home. His room is decorated with the things that are important to him. He loves money and Coca-Cola. No one knew these things about him when he moved into Magnolia CLA, but the caring staff was able to get him to open up and share his hopes, dreams, likes and dislikes. He doesn’t talk a lot, but the staff takes the time and sits with him, and even though he speaks in short or one word sentences, he will talk about things that make him happy. He tells staff what he needs or wants.
Donnie is considered medically fragile, but he often attends community functions and attended all of one of his housemate’s baseball games this spring. Donnie needed a caring home, and he found it at Magnolia CLA, but he has given the staff so much more.
Commissioner Berry speaks at the Carter Center. (Photo credit: Chris Bailey)
June 22 marked the 15th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Olmstead v. L.C., which protects the rights of individuals with disabilities to live fully integrated in their communities. This historic ruling continues to shape DBHDD’s service delivery system, which is focused on providing easy access to high-quality care for all of the people we serve.
DBHDD joined the Atlanta Legal Aid Society and the U.S. Department of Justice at the Carter Center on June 23 to celebrate individuals who are living meaningful and fulfilling lives in the community because of Olmstead. Commissioner Frank Berry gave an update on the progress Georgia has made to help individuals with behavioral health challenges and developmental disabilities receive high-quality services in community-based settings that allow them to live lives of recovery and independence.
To honor these individuals, we will feature Olmstead success stories, provided by our CSBs and other partners, regularly in our e-postcard. To send us your story, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.