Special Gifts

Woodley House has operated a Supported In dependent Living program for consumers with persistent mental illness and who are homeless since 1983. The program is funded by charitable support, consumers payment of fees, and funds from Washington D.C. department of Mental Health. This month we learned that the Department of Behavioral Health (formerly mental health) will be supporting another vendors program as opposed to Woodley Houses Supported Independent Living. This is difficult news for the consumers in our present apartments and program.

Woodley House staff worked hard to find alternative funding. We were successful in finding a way to help fund the present program, but it required a significant investment in time and effort from our consumers. I felt the hard news should come from me so the Residential Director, the Clinical Director, the lead supported independent living counselor and myself met with each of the 32 consumers who had lost a third of their funding. I explained to each consumer what had happened and that funds from the Department of Behavioral Health would be available to them but through a vendor other than Woodley House. I also explained if they would commit to working with our staff under a new contract with greater expectations from them we could preserve the program where  they were now enrolled. I expected some consumers would opt to take the path of least resistance and follow the funding. linking up with another agency and leaving Woodley House. Instead I heard 32 stories of the advances each consumer had made and the gratitude they felt toward the Woodley House staff and program. Every consumer signed a new contract and committed to the new work load. Every comment was full of hope. Every man and every women was determined to make this work.

In this time of year when we give gifts to friends and loved ones; this was the special gift our consumers gave to me.