Tony: Ten Years After

During Friendship Center activities recently, members were asked to name something they are good at, their proudest moment, and when they are the happiest.  Tony shared he is good at “cleaning up my house and playing pool”. He reports his proudest moment was “ten years ago when I got my apartment”, and happiest when “I am having lunch, and when I come to MIRCI.  Tony’s responses may seem ordinary, but for him, life was quite different for the seventeen years he experienced homelessness.

After a lengthy engagement period with the outreach worker and hospitalization, Tony moved into MIRCI’s permanent supportive housing in 2007.   He then began receiving intensive services from MIRCI’s ACT Team such as psychiatric services and individual and group therapy. Acclimating to living indoors didn’t immediately resolve things, as Tony was known to leave weeks at a time to engage in the lifestyle he was accustomed to prior to MIRCI, such as revisiting the areas where he would sleep when he was homeless. 

Today, ten years later, Tony has made tremendous progress towards integrating into the community and MIRCI in a functional capacity. Tony is actively involved within treatment services through MIRCI where he demonstrates the ability to freely share his experiences with others. Through the Friendship Center program of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services he has enhanced his activities of daily living skills, and social skills that have contributed to his ability to live independently with limited support in community.

Tony and another Vietnamese peer met at MIRCI in 2014. They became friends, and Tony provided support for the individual, who expressed sadness due to missing his family and difficulties transitioning into his new environment. Tony stepped in and began spending time at the residence of his peer and assisted staff with learning about the Vietnamese culture. In each other, they found understanding, a shared eagerness to relax weekly at a local McDonalds, and talk about it all over their fish filet meals and chocolate milkshakes.  Their friendship met the core needs his peer missed from family — connection, shared sensibilities, and enjoyment. 

Tony shops at Walmart every Saturday with other members of the community. His routine is predictable and manageable for him. One of Tony’s favorite dishes is fried chicken – years ago, one of his neighbors used to fry for him, but now he’s preparing it on his own! With a chuckle, Tony stated “I get the chicken, the oil, the egg, the flour and I fry it in the deep fryer”. 

Tony continues to participate in Friendship Center activities, and looks forward to playing pool on his breaks.  He loves watching movies with friends on the weekend, as well. “I have a place to stay, food to eat and enjoy the activity groups in MIRCI. I like the evening program groups too and making new friends,” he shared.  Recovery is an individual journey, and for Tony, it spanned a decade.