A Well World: A Family for Everyone

I was so pleased recently when the seven residents of Jacob’s House piled into the van to go get their COVID-19 vaccines. They seemed genuinely glad to go on the outing, even if it was just a trip to the clinic together. In the van there was laughter and affirming comradery.

Seeing that reminded me of when my siblings and I were loaded up in the family car. There was some teasing and tussling, but there were also jokes and songs. You know, the kinds of things families do together. Continue reading

We are a Family: Jacob’s House

Jacob’s House is situated on a tree-lined street in Oak Cliff. From the outside it looks like the other older homes in the neighborhood, with a large porch and a fenced front yard. On pleasant days, several men gather outside to “shoot the breeze,” play card games or wave at passersby. There is a comfortableness among them—a sense that they are at home. And they are.

However, for most of the seven who live at The Well Community’s boarding home for men, Jacob’s house has become home only after years of living on the street or in a series of substandard boarding houses. Continue reading

Seven Myths About Mental Illness and Homelessness

Living with a mental illness presents serious challenges when a person has stable housing. But, when an individual living with a mental health condition is without a safe, stable place to live, their struggles are multiplied. Mental illness and homelessness are compounding issues that can contribute to one another and create a cycle that makes it incredibly difficult for those caught in it to pursue stability.

The myths that surround these two issues can create a host of misconceptions that only add to the weight of struggle carried by those experiencing both mental illness and homelessness. The statements below represent several of the most common—and most harmful—myths about people living with these challenges. Continue reading

Helpings of Comfort at Jacob’s House

Every Sunday evening the men of Jacob’s House, The Well Community’s boarding home for men, enjoy a home-cooked meal, prepared with love and delivered with smiles. These family-style suppers, made by real-life relatives Suzan and Phil Sprinkle and their daughter, Caitlin, provide not only nourishment but a hearty helping of care and connection. As Caitlin says, “It’s an opportunity to count our blessings and share those blessings with others.”

Suzan adds, “If you have blessings, they’re not for you to covet; they’re for you to share.” Continue reading

No Matter What

“Family isn’t always blood. It’s the people in your life who want you in theirs. The ones who accept you for who you are. The ones that would do anything to see you smile, and who love you no matter what.” (source unknown)

Angel, Well member

Members of The Well Community know these thoughts to be so very true. And being at “home for the holidays” means many different things to our members. Because of stigma, homelessness and other challenges that often come with mental illnesses, some of our members have learned to develop family units with people who understand and share their lived experiences. Some do live with their family of origin, while others live with siblings or with a spouse. And as described below, some live together as members of The Well. Continue reading

The End of Over a Decade of Homelessness

After suddenly losing his job over a decade ago, Anthony felt something inside him break. He soon found himself homeless, sleeping in a park or abandoned building. He recalls the street as a place where everyone wants to be somewhere else, but no one knows how to move away from their present situation. Continue reading

Housing in the Pursuit of Stability

So often, the challenges of housing insecurity and the struggles of living with mental illness compound one another. The daily issues faced by those without stable housing situations make it difficult for them to pursue mental health stability; likewise, dealing with a mental health condition can impede their ability to take steps toward more stable living conditions. Housing is truly a foundational issue in addressing the difficulties faced by those living with serious mental illnesses. Continue reading

Intertwined in Texas: Mental Illness and Poverty in the Lone Star State

It’s hard to overstate the weight of poverty in the lives of those dealing with mental illnesses. Poverty can both increase the likelihood that a person will suffer from mental health challenges and make it more difficult for those already living with these struggles to pursue recovery.

Many intertwining factors related to poverty create a tangled cycle for those living with mental health conditions. For example, a serious mental illness can make it difficult for a person to hold down a job. As a result of being out of work, they may be unable to afford healthy food or a bus pass to get to a doctor’s appointment, adding extra hurdles in managing their illness. They may lose their housing, further eroding their ability to pursue stability. And, as they lack the resources necessary to take steps to improve their mental health, they remain unable to work and their condition may become an even greater struggle. Continue reading

A Well World: A Foundational Issue

 

As a friend of The Well Community, you know that we serve adults living with chronic and severe mental illnesses. And I hope you have also become aware that, because of those conditions, our members face many daunting and seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

In our recent blogs, we have highlighted one of those challenges: homelessness. Nearly all of our members have been without safe and dependable shelter many times in their adult lives. In fact, even now, on any given night, more than a third of our members who attend regularly sleep in doorways, under bridges or just along the side of the road. Continue reading

A Network of Neighbors

Residents of Jacob’s House enjoy their backyard

“I love them all,” says neighbor Nancy Templeton from the front porch of Jacob’s House, a place she often finds herself sitting and chatting with the men who live there. A longtime resident of the Oak Cliff neighborhood, Nancy speaks highly of the individuals who live next door. “They’re all great guys,” she says, and as an older woman who no longer drives, she values being able to walk over to the house to talk. Continue reading