For 20 years, Akintunde worked as a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor in Dallas, Arlington and Grapevine, helping men and women who struggled with drug addictions receive appropriate treatment. When he retired several years ago, Akintunde quickly realized the copious amount of downtime wasn’t for him. He wanted to be active and productive, and despite a diagnosis of glaucoma that left him with peripheral vision so limited he qualified for medical disability, he decided to go back to school. Akintunde is now a graduate student working toward a master’s degree in social work with a concentration in mental health and substance abuse at the University of Texas at Arlington. As part of his graduate degree requirements, Akintunde interned at The Well for eight months.
Like all interns in UTA’s MSW program, Akintunde had several internships to choose from. He chose The Well for practical reasons: The Well is located in a church near his home and, having grown up the son of a minster, he felt comfortable working in a church. Akintunde knew little about The Well other than its general goals when he began the internship, but he soon fell in love with The Well’s no-nonsense, label-free approach to mental health. During his internship, Akintunde realized he enjoys working not only with people who struggle with alcohol and drug addictions, but with individuals who deal with mental illnesses as well. After receiving his degree, Akintunde hopes to work in an organization like The Well, which he likes because, as he says, it “does not label its clients based on their mental illnesses and is small enough to operate without excess bureaucracy.” Below, he shares about three couples at The Well that have impressed him through their love and devotion.
Connie and Charles met in a group home a little over 18 years ago. They say they became a couple about 17 years ago and have been at The Well 15 years or so. Most of the time, if one moves, the other moves, and they go everywhere together. Charles treats his wife as if she is the only woman he sees, and Connie reciprocates in kind. On the rare occasion that one of them gets up alone to get coffee, the one who gets up comes back with a cup for the other. Connie is so quiet that when she speaks it surprises me, while Charles seems driven to talk; but together they are a beautiful combination.
Michelle and Todd’s relationship is a beautiful demonstration of loyalty. The couple is chronically homeless, and on one of the coldest nights of last year they went to a shelter to get out of the weather. The shelter was willing to accept Michelle, but couldn’t take in Todd. Michelle refused to accept shelter without him. Later, when Michelle wasn’t accepted at another facility, Todd wouldn’t accept admission without her.
Tania’s husband, John, is wheelchair bound, and she takes care of him almost religiously, bringing him whatever he needs and pushing him wherever he needs to go. If more of us would honor and cherish one another as these three couples do, it would change the world.
Volunteering at The Well is a small commitment that has a great impact on the lives of those who deal with mental illness in Oak Cliff. Think you might be interested? Don’t hesitate to get in touch! We would love to answer your questions and find the best place for you to use your unique gifts. Contact us.