Reintegration & Recovery >> First Person
Rodney Nichols, in and out of psychiatric hospitals since he was 21, was released form Manhattan State Psychiatric Center four years ago, and was accepted at a residence for people who are mentally ill. "My case worker there said I needed to have something to do with my days," he says, "and he referred me to Fountain House.
"At first I was working in the Kitchen," says Rodney, "then I moved to Horticulture, and now, for the past two years, I've worked in the Coat Room. But that's on my days off. I've been on a couple of Transitional Employment placements- at D'Arcy as an indoor messenger, and at Seybert Nicholas as an outdoor messenger.
For a while, I came back to the Coat Room, and now I am at Automated Data Processing, taking proxies out of envelopes and stacking them in boxes. On weekends, I wash dishes at my residence. It keeps me busy." In between, he makes time to visit his two children, a son, 14, and a daughter, 12. "I try to give them some money from my work," he says. "I love it here at Fountain House," Rodney comments. "A lot of people have been really supportive. I do chores with Ronnie Galan [initially a member, now staff with the first floor unit].
Jeff Feller helped me at Seybert Nicholas, and has offered me tickets for Mets and Yankees games. Nicole Pickett [First Floor unit leader] got me my job at ADP. Tracy Jeoung is my staff worker who I work closest with. She helps me with my annual plan, about what I want to do with myself."
The planning is done with the help of MEMPHIS, a computerized record-keeping system created by Fountain House's Research unit. "Tracy puts in what I'm doing, asks me what are my goals, we make a list," says Rodney. "We go through it, each part one at a time. Like right now, I'm trying to get my driver's license, and she's trying to help me get it. Another of my goals is to buy some new clothes. And we go over my jobs and my work experience, so I can keep track of my resumes, and keep growing."
Rodney, now 32, sees more and more of his future coming into focus. "Eventually, I want to get a car. I'm on a list for my own apartment, through Fountain House. Once I get another placement, I'll be OK. Get a part-time job, make a little money, have my own place, get me on my feet again."
Rodney is a member of Fountain House, a clubhouse in New York City which provides help and hope to people with serious mental illness.