Do you ever look at a troubled homeless person and think about them being someone's son, someone's brother, and wonder how they got there? I never would have thought of Stephen, my son, as "one of the least of these," but he has lost his voice in society, become one of the forgotten, brokenhearted, disappointed, lonely, and abandoned, for the most part, because people, including his family and friends, no longer know how to relate to or help him. I seem to be his lone voice in the wilderness, his advocate, and probably most people are sick of hearing me talk about him. So instead of shutting up, I'm turning to the larger community with a plan to turn this around.
Steve went from having a life full of promise, a baseball and academic scholarship to Gonzaga University, a brilliant writer with a dream of producing and directing movies, an outgoing and likable personality, to what I have described above. About 13 years ago he was diagnosed "bi-polar", put on neuroleptic psych meds and a year later was diagnosed "schizophrenic." I never really believed the diagnosis, because all of the pieces didn't fit and I've been working ever since to find out what was going on at the time and treat the cause as well as the symptoms. The mental health system is a broken revolving door where individuals are assigned a label, without any scientific validity, and then matched with "medicines" for that label. The effects of those drugs are so bad, and the stopping of them sometimes worse, that you end up back in the hospital, on new drugs and your situation becomes ever deteriorating and more desperate. Or so it has with Stephen and a multitude of other young men and women who are the victims and have joined the ranks of the disabled and often homeless.
So what do you do? What's the answer? I haven't found THE answer yet, but I've gotten close and am getting closer. There are alternatives. We had a huge glimmer of hope for over a year, when Stephen had his own apartment and was working a nutritional program, with supplements and very little medication. It was the best he's ever been since he was first put on psychotropic medication. It was the first time the family spent Christmas with him in about 6 years! But then he lost his apartment. We found a room with a roommate, but for various reasons that didn't work out well. It's been a downhill slide into homelessness (again), hospitalization (again), and the criminal justice system (a first, fortunately not too serious). It's been an unbelievable and tragic trip and perhaps I'll write a book, but for now, there's work to do.
WHAT WE NEED:
A housing plan together by next Thursday, May 2nd. If not, Stephen is going first to the local locked unit at the hospital and then to a locked state institution where we won't see much of him again, with an outcome worse than death, in my opinion. But as I said, I have a plan, am optimistic, and intend to rescue him, so to speak, from the current mental health system that has failed miserably. Actually, maybe it succeeded, because it was never developed to create health and wellbeing.
1)To buy an Airstream trailer for Stephen to live in. It can be parked in various places in the County. Housing is the main need and the thing most difficult to obtain for people with his condition. The lack of housing, is the most destabilizing element - $63,000
2)To get a true differential diagnosis from holistic physicians that are waiting in the wings, to rule out any medical conditions $1,200 - only for one month
3)To provide a personal assistant to help him stay on track - about 56 hours a month - about $850/mo.
4)To get the help of a nutritionist and chef (friends of his and mine to direct him in this area - about $800 over 2 months
5)If this campaign really goes over the top, I'd like Stephen to go to a program like Earth House or Alternative to Meds where he can get the proper care he needs. These programs are from 10 to $20,000 a month and would probably require 6 months.
So why doesn't the family just do this? It takes money, mostly. Stephen's situation has caused a real drain on my finances in particular and the family's in general. If you would like to help us toward that goal, that would be amazing. In Judaism, it's called a mitzvah. In Christianity, charity, a blessing. Thank you and God Bless You.
If you are interested in learning more about alternatives in mental health here are a few websites:
P.S. If anyone knows a good place to park this in and around Santa Cruz, CA, let me know.
Please share this with anyone you know who might be interested in both your contacts and Facebook. Thanks!
PICTURES FOR REWARD LEVELS:
RUBY LEVEL - ELEPHANT (More pictures available on request)
EMERALD LEVEL - CLARAVALE FARM GOAT CHEESE
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