The Journey to Proud

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When Frankie began her journey with WellPower, she was part of a three-year long incentivized study for people who applied for social security. The goal was to determine if behavioral health care could support individuals learning to live independently. At the time, Frankie was struggling with a substance use disorder. She found it difficult to consistently stick with the treatment plans she and her care team created, often returning to substance use as a way to cope with hardships in her life. In her late forties, Frankie realized that she couldn’t continue using drugs and alcohol if she wanted to find success. With renewed determination, she dedicated herself to working with the WellPower on her recovery.

Finding Her Way

Throughout her journey, one of Frankie’s biggest lessons was learning to prioritize her own well-being. She knew she wanted to work and bring in income, so Frankie began working with an Employment Specialist at NextChapter. Together, they determined that custodial work would be a good fit for her, initially. For two years, Frankie worked with the custodial team at WellPower’s Dickenson building. She began setting personal goals for herself, such as earning her driver’s license.

She worked with psychiatrists, nurses, therapists, case managers and more. For several months, she lived at Monaco House, a sober residence run by WellPower staff. During her stay at Monaco House, Frankie realized she wanted more for herself. The residential counselors inspired her to work toward her GED, with a goal to become a residential counselor one day.

Frankie really began to flourish when she found the culinary program at NextChapter, a psychiatric rehabilitation and supported education program that supports individuals in their recovery and promotes well-being at WellPower.

She had previous training in ServSafe, a National Restaurant Association course that certifies individuals in restaurant regulatory and safety requirements for every state. Frankie was able to graduate to the ServSafe managerial program, which provides food safety training, exams and educational materials to foodservice managers. She received her managerial license, and she currently works in the NextChapter kitchen as a student manager.

“Frankie gained the skills throughout her three years with WellPower to put boundaries in place, so she could focus on her work,” said Candice Vigil, who runs the culinary program. “When she realized that she wanted to focus on the culinary program, she decided her well-being was important enough to prioritize herself. She quit the custodial job to focus on her culinary training and certifications, which was something she’d never done before. She had to ask herself, ‘money or my well-being?’ She chose herself.”

The Journey to Proud

Today, Frankie has an indomitable sense of self and desire to achieve long-held goals. In addition to living in recovery, she committed herself to getting her GED, finding stable housing, earning her driver’s license and finding ways to cope with negative experiences in healthy ways.

So far, she’s accomplished most of her list.

“At the beginning, I didn’t really know who I was or what I wanted,” said Frankie. “I was able to change myself from what I was, to who I am and to who I’m going to be as I keep growing. I never thought I could own a car or have a driver’s license. I didn’t think it was possible for me, and it is. It completely is.”

“I went from surviving to thriving,” she said. “I’m certified with ServSafe and I’m working at the NextChapter culinary program. They’re also helping me to get my GED. I have goals to own my own business and really foster my relationships with my kids and grandbabies.”

To Anyone Out There Struggling

Frankie knows how hard it is to get started and stay committed. At the beginning of her journey with WellPower, she struggled with it, herself. She also knows that sticking with it usually leads to extraordinary outcomes.

“I learned how to deal with everything life throws at me, both the positive and the negative,” she remarked. “Sometimes life is still hard, and there are going to be challenges that make me pause on my goals. That doesn’t mean I’m giving up, though. I learned how to cope.”

She also has one piece of advice for anyone who’s not sure about getting help. “Just do it,” said Frankie. “It’s going to be hard. There are going to be times you’re not sure, or that you doubt yourself. Stick with it and keep trying, because you can do this. Don’t give up on yourself.”