• Shrina Patel

Participant Highlight: Idalys

Idalys joined Association House through the Colbert program, helping individuals with mental health conditions transition out of nursing facilities to community-based living. Idalys has had many roadblocks on her way to her independence, but she’s made it through each one. She is motivated and determined in sharing her message of positivity with the world. Through Association House, Idalys is seizing her future, well-being, and becoming independent. Meet Idalys – in her own words:

Who is Idalys? Tell me about yourself. Wow! Idalys is a beautiful, special, and grateful person. Idalys was lost for such a long time, so long. I literally was crawling on my knees when I came to Association House.

How did you get connected to Association House? When I was in a nursing home, Mr. Darius (nursing home staff), mentioned that I could get an apartment. And by the grace of God [he] showed me to Association House. And I met Aasta. She was really nice. Then I met Rachel and a couple of more girls, and they were scary. (Rachel and Idalys both laugh). Y'all came in with happy faces, and I was like, ‘Oh my God.’ But it is OK and every day that I see these ladies I know it's beautiful. It’s joy; it’s laughter; it’s hope. It's welcoming.

What was your experience like with Association House? The first thing Association House did for me was give me all my medication. I told [the staff] I would be a better person next year. I came back the following year, when I started the whole program - healthier with more self-esteem and love. They hooked me up with my link so I can have food; brought me clothes; and gave me love until I could love myself. It was so beautiful. I've been through a lot this year. I lost my home due to a home fire. Association House came the following day and brought me everything.

Mr. Henry (our vocational support specialist), who I love so much because [he] is my hero. He took me shopping; bought me an air mattress, shampoo, conditioner, and perfume. I was so grateful. I’m so happy I will be getting my apartment within the next few weeks, but I have to admit, ‘nothing - and I’m serious -nothing would ever happen to me if it wasn't for Association House.’ I’m the most grateful person in the whole wide world.

What does it mean to you to have your own apartment? I'm a very spiritual person, and I believe in God. I want my own destiny, home, and life. I don't wanna depend on nobody. It's me; it's my turn. God is giving me a chance. Now it's time for me to shine. I wanna shine.

What have you taken away from your experience? There is a lot of things that I have learned. [Association House] has a drop-in center and it’s so fun. The staff is great and teach us about nurturing ourselves - how to live, take care of our personal hygiene. We speak about self-esteem, medications, and more. [They are] like a family. A family that makes me laugh; a family that accepts me for who I am.

How has Association House helped you?

As soon as you walk in, the receptionists welcome you. Then you go upstairs then there's John, Awilda, and Enrique. Who offer you anything you want. If you don't have personal things, they give it to you. And we all love each other. We do music therapy, which, for me, is a must. And then, on Tuesdays I see Miss Alejandra, my therapist. I have trust issues when it comes to therapists. But they made me feel so comfortable. There's Miss Rachel who keeps up with all my medical things - and throws me under the bus when I forget {All laugh} but she takes care of me.

Could you share what would it be like for someone who needs a service like this and could do it, but doesn’t have the opportunity? Wow! That’s very hard. I was the youngest person in the nursing. I looked around every day and I'm like ‘Why am I in this nursing home with so many old people? Why? And it was because there was a lesson to be learned. I was a drug addict. I was getting high for 20 plus years; and Winston saved my life too. It made me safe and sober.’

There are so many people in that nursing home that cannot do most things for themselves. And there are people that keep them there. And they are trapped, want to go home, and want their own apartment. And it could be given; but I find it unfair for [people] to give so much to the nursing homes, and yet not be able to enjoy life, eat a healthy meal, go outside, and see your family members. None of that.

As part of your journey, you make your own videos. What is your message to your audience? First of all, I have to say it was all Henry. He inspires me to do things. I was the kind of person that would literally sit in a dark room and cry. I would call Rachel and Darius, ‘I don't wanna cry no more,’ I had no self-esteem. And this year, after the fire; it was like a wakeup call. I have a new life, a new perspective.

I decided to start videotaping it. My life journey, you know? Where am I going? What's going on with me? What is Association House doing for me? People here [at AHC], there are so many, and I don't even know their names but everyone... thank you. They gave me my life back, and I videotape it. I’m grateful for the team. Everyone that helps me out. Those are my videos. And they're beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. They're inspiring and they inspire people to go out there and follow your dreams. Because it's been given to you. GIVEN. And it didn’t cost me a thing.

I am that one person that you guys are helping that made a change. That made a life. I think you guys are my angels; and I wouldn't ever turn my back to Association House because that is my home.

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