Kelly is a 54 year old intellectually and developmentally disabled woman who lost her mother at the age of three. She and her younger sister were raised by their alcohol/drug addicted father and lived either on the streets or in one grimy, rodent infested apartment after another. Kelly’s father traded her for drugs; as an adult she became a prostitute supporting her drug and alcohol habits. With no female influence to guide her, Kelly grew to find comfort in filth; she had no concept of personal hygiene.
When Kelly moved to BH in 2011, she was emaciated, filthy, and addicted to crack and alcohol. Bethesda House’s Life Skills Counselor immediately began working with Kelly to get her cleaned up then began the long process of assisting her in establishing a sense of pride in herself and her surroundings. Given Kelly’s cognitive limitations, her counselor employed the system of graduated guidance to teach Kelly how to keep her apartment clean.
Daily, the two met to complete one task in her apartment and to educate her on the health and self-esteem benefits of keeping her apartment clean. Kelly was not receptive at first and she cried each time her counselor met with her and complained that she was incapable of doing what was asked of her.
Her counselor assisted her with financial budgeting and instilling in her a desire to purchase things with her money other than crack and alcohol. Patience and steadfastness resulted in positive outcomes; Kelly began to take care of herself, showers regularly, saves money to purchase things that she wants and keeps her apartment cleaner.
Schenectady ARC staff has been working and interacting with Kelly weekly. Social events are planned, going out to lunch, to the movies, and/or going for a walk. She continues to work towards sobriety and is extremely proud of the success she has already experienced. “The world is clear when I’m sober,” she says.
When speaking about Bethesda House she says, “This is my home.” She’s comfortable here where she can look forward to a hot meal, good coffee and a support system to help her on her road to recovery from addiction. Like the rest of our residents, Kelly is a survivor. She survives every day with a smile on her face and hope for the future.
Since becoming a resident, Kelly has set up an effective support system through Bethesda House staff, Schenectady ARC, Ellis Care Central and the Rape Crisis center. She has discovered the power in asking for help, a lesson we can all learn to appreciate.