Posted by Sara Freedman

At 23 years old, Ann* desperately wanted to move out of her parent's home and establish her independence. She and her parents were fighting constantly, and realized that if she was going to improve her mental health, it was important she find other housing. Ann had been struggling with a seizure disorder since she was a child, along with anxiety and depression. Her mom supported her desire to move out, but neither of them knew where to start. Then, her mom suggested that they contact JF&CS. From the beginning, it was clear that Ann could benefit greatly from JF&CS' case management services, and started working with her case manager to determine next steps right away.

Finding housing and creating a budget were the first goals Ann identified. Although she was on the subsidized housing lists, she knew her name probably wouldn't come up for years, and she was determined to find housing as soon as possible. Her case manager helped her scour Craigslist and local university websites for apartment and rooms for rent in her price range. Within two months of working with her case manager, Ann found an apartment that fit her needs. Her case manager helped her find, apply for, and access a local food pantry in her new neighborhood, since most of her income was going towards her rent. Simultaneously, Ann and her case manager started to work on budgeting and money management skills. Her parents had offered to provide a monthly stipend to ease the burden on Ann, but she refused. She didn't want to have to rely on them anymore—she wanted to become as independent as possible. Ann was a part-time student at MassBay, but wasn't sure if she could continue due to the costs. Her case manager helped her access benefits through the Mass Rehab Commission, which resulted in her tuition for school being waived, along with financial assistance for transportation and textbooks.

Everything seemed to be going well, but two months after moving into her apartment, Ann found out that her landlord had decided to sell the house and gave her 30 days to find new housing. Ann and her case manager went back to the housing search, and within the month, located a new apartment nearby. After her move, Ann's case manager encouraged her to apply for food stamps. Within a week, Ann submitted her application and all supplemental documentation independently, and was accepted only two weeks later! She and her case manager then started to work on meal planning. This helped Ann not only stick to her budget, but also learn to cook – another skill she was hoping to acquire.

Over the next several months, Ann continued to manage her newfound independence with the support of her case manager. When new difficulties arose, Ann found ways to deal with them head on and did not let them "derail" her, as she would say. As Ann became more independent, her relationship with her parents started to become more positive. She became actively involved in multiple clubs at MassBay, served as a club leader for two groups, and as treasurer for another. Ann was doing great.

Then, within a month, Ann's girlfriend broke up with her and, on top of that, she found out that her landlord would not be renewing her lease. This left her devastated and depressed, and her seizures increased. Although Ann cancelled several of their meetings, her case manager persisted, and reminded Ann how far she had come. Together, they searched for and found yet another apartment that fit her needs. The moment she moved in, she knew it was a perfect fit. Her roommates were so kind, and she became fast friends with all of them. When she met with her case manager, her happiness was palpable. As a final goal, she and her case manager practiced time management skills. Each week, Ann and her case manager would meet and input every appointment, meeting, and school assignment into her Google calendar on her phone. Ann was no longer missing meetings or assignments and was doing really well. At this time, Ann realized she had reached all her current goals, and was able to see how far she had come in just a year and a half. Ann told her case manager she was ready to close her case – knowing that if she needed help in the future, JF&CS would only be a call away.

*Name changed to protect privacy.