MHMRA of Harris County - Annual Report FY 2012 2012 - Page 11

Investing in Healthy Minds and a Healthy Community M yriam Lisette Arguello works two jobs, pays taxes and is saving money to move into her own apartment. She thinks of herself as a role model, and she’s not alone in thinking that. She was recently honored for her self-advocacy at the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities - Texas annual conference. Myriam Lisette did not always present herself as such a powerhouse, however. There was a time when her communication skills were not polished, her confidence was low, and she was too nervous to perform well in job interviews. She found the help she needed, however, at MHMRA. Over the years, Myriam Lisette has received a variety of services through MHMRA. Her mother, Lisette Arguello, said that MHMRA’s Dual Diagnosis Services (DDS) helped Myriam Lisette Myriam Lisette Arguello always had the knowledge she needed for work she wanted - but she couldn’t communicate that in interviews. MHMRA’s programs came together to give her the boost of self-confidence she needed to nail the interview and land the job. develop her self-esteem, and the Coffeehouse program has helped her maintain her selfesteem and continue to develop critical social skills. DDS is a day program for adults who have both developmental disabilities and mental illness. Individuals learn to manage their symptoms of mental illness so they can participate more actively in the community. The Coffeehouse program is a drop-in day program for adults living with Asperger’s Disorder and other Autism Spectrum Disorders. Participants interact with each other and staff members, both in groups and one-on-one, to practice communication, social and independent-living skills. Through MHMRA’s Employment Connections program, Myriam Lisette learned how to write an effective resume and give strong interviews. These job readiness skills, combined with her growing confidence and communication abilities helped Myriam Lisette land a job after six years of unsuccessful searching. “I was shocked when I got my first job,” she said. “I never had a job before. I was mostly surprised that I did well in the interview, that I answered the questions right and that they liked me. I was proud.” Myriam Lisette now works concessions at Reliant Stadium. She also works for the Texas Young Autism Project, helping children who, like herself, have Autism Spectrum Disorders and need special services to develop life skills. She worked hard to get this job. Through Coffeehouse, she developed a career contact at the University of Houston – Clear Lake who helped her get the training she needed to work with the children. After that, she relied on her own self-esteem, courage and initiative”to call behavioral day treatment centers around the community to inquire about employment opportunities, her mother said. “She has become very independent and a better communicator,” her mother said. “We want to thank each one of the people who work in MHMRA’s programs that helped Myriam Lisette.” Valuing Integration and Independence Sigmund Freud once said, “Love and work are the cornerstones of our humanness.” Many years later, we continue to find that the ability to engage in meaningful interaction socially and vocationally is indeed at the heart of becoming a happy and healthy human being. Myriam Lisette has made this journey as she participated in MHMRA’s IDD Services Division programs. She has grown personally and professionally with the support of services from MHMRA, and she continues to overcome challenges in her daily life. We all face challenges. When individuals with disabilities are integrated into our communities, it becomes clear that we all share more commonalities than differences. Contributing to our community offers all of us opportunities for inclusion and belonging. As our communities become more diverse and accepting of differences, we all benefit from each other’s presence. The IDD Services Division promotes and values independence and integration as benefits both to the individuals and families we serve as well as to the larger community. The IDD Services Division strives to encourage, equ