Improving Relationships, Employment and Education Through Counseling For Low Income Individuals and Families.
We are helping children, families and adults of Jackson County deal with mental and substance abuse issues. United Way of Jackson County supports Outpatient Counseling through Catholic Charities of Jackson. The goal is to provide every individual in our community the opportunity to achieve strong, healthy, caring, family relationships with good mental health. Successful outcomes have positively impacted housing, employment and family relationships in our community. Low income families who are going through counseling are becoming self-sufficient, children in the program are succeeding in the classroom and have better attendance. This counseling program has helped hundreds in Jackson County, among those was Crystal and her family. Here is their story.
Crystal came to be seen for grief issues. Her younger brother, Jack, had come back to Michigan in March from the warmer southern climates in order to die at home. He had been diagnosed with ALS. Crystal is a single mother of five, who had recently lost her job. Jack stayed with his mother, but Crystal was instrumental in being his primary caretaker, as their mom had to work outside the home in order to support all of them. This included feeding, dressing, washing, changing and transporting him to the doctor at University of Michigan Hospital. There wasn’t time for them to do anything other than the daily requirements of taking care of him. Jack died in August. Both Crystal and her mother were present when he passed. Towards the end, he couldn’t even blink his eyes or wiggle a finger. His passing left a gaping hole in their lives. Crystal realized that she was going to need help processing all that had occurred. When she began therapy she spoke pretty much in a monotone, showing very little expression. We discussed the five stages of grieving – Denial, Bargaining, Anger, Depression and, finally, Acceptance. At the beginning, they were just words, but eventually Crystal started feeling again. It started with a session where she sat with tears rolling down her cheeks. She could not put into words yet what she was feeling, but the tears were a start. Since then, we have progressed through Denial Bargaining and Anger. She is currently in the Depressive stage, and we are making progress. Her mother has begun therapy recently.
As with anyone experiencing a loss, the holidays are particularly difficult. Catholic Charities, with the assistance of some very generous donors, decided to take this family under our wing. We were able to arrange for their Thanksgiving dinner to be delivered to them already prepared. They just needed to warm things up when they were ready. We also adopted the entire family at Christmas, with Catholic Charity workers shopping for and wrapping gifts for the entire family. As time goes on and needs are still present, we were also able to assist them with their utility bill. These are not things we have the money or ability to do on a regular basis, but this family had suffered so very much this past year, it was what we needed to do for them. When I told Crystal what we were going to do for them, she broke down in my office and sobbed. She calls Catholic Charities “her angels”.
Last year, 685 people completed the counseling programs supported by United Way of Jackson County. 90% of those completing the program had successful outcomes.