Personal story shared by Kathyann
I am someone who has lived with multiple medical disabilities. I graduated and worked for four years as a case manager.
I began my journey with mental health challenges, resulting in hospitalizations and multiple partial and outpatient programs. I went on disability for twelve years. In the 1980s and 1990s, being on disability was like a permanent death sentence with no hope. What I did have were supporters at my church who could still see potential in me when I did not see it in myself.
They spoke with me earnestly and lovingly, encouraging me to go back to school. It meant reinstating my student loans and going to school in a wheelchair, but I did it. I went back to school and graduated. I moved to Harrisburg and took several grant and volunteer jobs, where I networked and built relationships.
At first, I was hired as a Service Coordinator, but after six months, we parted ways. I had used six months of my working disabled period. I had, however, met some case managers from Keystone and was impressed by their “can do” attitude.
In 1998, I applied for a direct care position in Supportive Living. There were concerns about accommodation issues (not climbing stairs, etc.), but they took a risk and hired me.
In 2005, when I was home on FMLA with two broken legs, this same supervisor called to ask me to think about applying for a new position that was being developed.
In 2006, I was hired as the first Community Relations Coordinator to serve in the role of a “consumer” on the Management Board.
Today, I represent Keystone on a variety of regional and state boards and facilitate the Keystone Leadership Council, empowering others to find their voice in leadership.
These days, I maintain my own personal wellness by using the WRAP tool (Wellness Recovery Action Plan) and actually living those principles throughout my life. I have also been trained as an Advanced Level Facilitator and have the opportunity to work across Keystone in the development of the WRAP program for others whom we serve.
On June 28, 2013, I celebrated my 15th anniversary of working at Keystone.
What wellness tools have helped you to stay well and able to work?