I was born in Milwaukee in 1968 and lived with my mother on 37th and Hadley. She had to work so my grandmother, who lived just a few blocks away, took care of me.
I went to MPS schools for both grade school and high school, graduating from Hamilton H.S in 1986. Then I went right on to UW-Whitewater to study accounting. I did all right until my junior year, when I had a very difficult time with a class in cost accounting. With little support, I quit college. Looking back, I now wonder whether I was actually dealing with a mental illness, even though I was not diagnosed at the time.
i started working part-time at the Wisconsin Humane Society, which was then on E. Capitol Drive. I worked there for several years and then got a full-time job as an account clerk at the Opportunity Industrialization Center, a social service agency. I worked there from 1991-1994.
In 1994-1995 I was finally diagnosed with a mental illness. I had several hospitalizations and was told that I had depression and anxiety. I think a big part of what I was going through was that my mother passed in 1993, and that was the beginning of my going downhill.
For several years I was in and out of the Milwaukee County hospital. I tried to work but I couldn't do it. I was too depressed. I did a long stint in the hospital in 1995. In those days there was a Day Hospital on Watertown Plank Road. It was there that they told me about Grand Avenue Club (GAC) and recommended that I check it out.
So I took the bus to GAC. Right away I knew it was a good place. They told me they could help with education and with getting a job. They told me all about the Transitional Employment (TE) positions. I went to school for a while, but it turned out that I liked working more.
I have benefited a great deal from the GAC Employment Program. My first TE from 2010 to 2011, was in the Personnel Department at the M&I Bank on Water Street. Then I did three Group Placements--one at United Way, another at Redeemer Lutheran Church and a third at the Milwaukee County Department of Housing.
My next job was at Derco Aerospace and I loved it. It started out as a TE job but it then became Supported Employment for 2 more years. The job involved scanning and data entry.
I've recently returned to GAC after a long time away because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Things been very hard for me and I'm so glad to be back. On June 1, I am starting a new Transitional Employment job at Outpost Natural Foods on State Street. The job is prep cooking and dishwashing. My placement managers will be Jenny Teuscher and Joe Schultz. They are both seasoned placement managers, but Jenny is new to Outpost so we will be learning together how things are done.
These days I'm feeling great. It has been wonderful to return to GAC. GAC has been a great help with everything. I am so glad that I have a place to go, now that the pandemic is easing up. It's amazing: I don't even feel weird about being around people. I can even be around crowds. And I am really looking forward to my new position at Outpost.