Support Amy and all the members of Grand Avenue Club by donating today!
Dear Friend of Grand Avenue Club,
I had been running a call center for 10 years but in November 2012 my life fell apart when all my health issues caught up with me: fibromyalgia, gastroparesis, depression, PTSD, and anxiety. I didn’t know it then, but I also had bipolar disorder. My frequent physical and psychological breakdowns really took a toll. I lost my job because of my health issues.
Losing my job meant losing my health insurance and access to my doctors and medications. I went through a severe withdrawal and a complete break from reality. I suffered several minor strokes and was bedridden for 9 months and barely mobile for a year. Although my application to receive Social Security Disability was rejected, I qualified for Badger Care, a state health insurance plan and got help, but my progress was slow. After a year and a half of physical therapy, I was only able to walk 3 blocks and stand for 20 minutes. Because I was then diagnosed with bipolar illness, a psychiatrist was able to offer me psychotherapy every other week.
But I was still a wreck, leaving my room only to go to the bathroom or to a doctor’s appointment.
Then my therapist recommended Grand Avenue Club (GAC). But I wasn’t ready to force myself out of the door to get there so I ended up being hospitalized for a breakdown. I had lost hope and felt reduced to nothing. When I was released from the hospital, my therapist mentioned GAC again. It sounded interesting, but I had to get out of the house first. Finally, I came to GAC and joined. I chose to work in the Education/Employment Unit. My goal was to get back to work.
I started slowly at GAC, coming in every other day. The walk to the bus stop was very hard, but at least I was leaving the house and being around people after years of isolation. I loved using my computer skills so on most days I helped put together GAC’s daily newspaper, among other things. Everyone was so welcoming and supportive. I was dealing with so much in my life, but someone was always there to help or to listen.
After a few months, I was given the opportunity to do a Group Placement at United Way. This gave me confidence and I felt productive. I was then offered a Transitional Employment Position at Derco Aerospace. That was when things started turning around. It was part-time and I was earning a regular paycheck again! I was motivated and learned Derco’s computer system pretty quickly so I got to do other things around the warehouse. By this time I was doing so well I went off my primary anti-depressant.
The experience I got at Derco was enough for me to land a full-time Independent Employment position with Astronautics Corporation of America. I have been working 40 hours a week for 6 months now, and I’m doing it on my feet, constantly moving parts and boxes. For the first time in my life, I have health, dental, vision, and life insurances as well as a 401K. My supervisor is urging me to take advantage of a tuition reimbursement program. After my one year work anniversary, I will return to school to study Inventory and Production Management. That way I can move up and work in several departments.
GAC supported me all along the way and helped me rebuild my life. I went from near death and a disconnect from reality to being a functional person taking care of herself.
I’ve just gone off my second anti-depressant. In the last 2 years, I have lost
almost 80 pounds. I have opened up to being in a relationship with my boyfriend for the last 6 months – this after closing myself off from others for years.
Grenesha Reed, Eva Norton, Amy Multhaus
and Imogene Hines on their way to work, February 2017
I would not be where I am today without GAC. I hope you will contribute generously to our 2018 Winter Appeal so that more members can members
can resume a good life or experience it for the very first time. Thank you.
Amy and her boyfriend
- Amy’s story is one of many illustrating how Grand Avenue Club opportunities lead to increased productivity and life satisfaction. We serve approximately 450 active members every year.
- As of today 238,021 children and adults in Milwaukee County experience the challenge of a mental illness. Of these, 57,125 cope with schizophrenia, bipolar illness, and major depression.
- Active Clubhouse members have significantly lower mental health care costs and far fewer psychiatric hospitalizations compared to other psychiatric patients.
- In 2017 GAC members earned $1.4 M in taxable revenue, nearly all of which was spent in Milwaukee County.