Advocate Stories

Kierstyn and Jared

Jared and Kierstyn met while Kierstyn was living in a supportive home, but her social circle did not extend much beyond her own family.  Kierstyn said that for her it had sometimes been difficult to meet new people because of her autism.  Jared and Kierstyn were able to identify with one another through shared interests.  Jared is an established artist in the community and Kierstyn has a passion for drawing and developing characters, designs, and stories.  Jared has brought Kierstyn into his art community and has introduced her to a new world of friends who recognize her for her gifts and talents.  She has sold some of her own art work while attending events with Jared and continues to work on pieces to share at art jams and other events with fellow artists who have become part of her new social circle.

Marv and Amber

Marv and Amber were introduced and matched in October 2013.  On the surface it appears that Amber is quite capable of handling her own affairs.  You only have to dig a little deeper to find out the real truth.  Amber had a lifetime of making decisions that weren’t always in her own best interests and she would move from apartment to apartment eventually ending up on the streets or in jail.  Marv was recruited to become Amber’s Representative Payee to help her keep a roof over her head and food on the table.

From the beginning, Marv hit the ground running by helping Amber find emergency shelter, food, clothing, and safe housing.  When he discovered Amber was paying a weekly rate for her living situation, he negotiated a lower monthly rate.  His advocacy efforts included mitigating a situation involving her recurring asthma and her living situation.  Marv communicated regularly with Amber’s employer to work out any issues related to the number of hours worked, transportation, illnesses, and hospitalizations.  Marv’s advocacy efforts extended to him taking protective measures when Amber became entangled with some unscrupulous people who were out to exploit and take adantage of her.

Dan and Roger

Dan and Roger were matched in 2015. When Roger was 16 he fell from a tree resulting in severe disabilities which made doing the simplest tasks difficult for him to do.  Roger lived at home and was supported by his parents until they passed away.  He then moved to a nursing home when he was in his mid-50’s. and has lived there ever since.

Dan and Roger share so many common interests- they are both retirement age, love to joke around, share their mutual love of music and the bands they follow, talking about cars, and their strong faith.  When they first met, Dan learned that Roger was the lead singer and guitar player in a high school ‘garage band.’ It became the glue that cemented their relationship and has led to a much deeper connection between the two men.

Even though Roger communicates with words, it is not always easy to follow what he is saying. Because of the length of the relationship and the time they have spent together, Dan understands Roger better than anyone. On the occasion when Dan doesn’t understand what Roger is trying to communicate, he relies on his heart knowing that it will lead him in the right direction. The two men share a deep and abiding  faith with one another that has also contributed to the strength of the relationship. It is a relationship in which both men have gained genuine benefits as a result. As Dan so aptly shared, “I think Roger has done more for me than I could ever do for him.”

Marcia and Deb

Deb was moved into a nursing home after experiencing a severe brain aneurysm ten years ago. The episode left Deb immobilized and largely silent, and she relied on a feeding tube to provide nourishment and avoid aspirating and reoccurring bouts of pneumonia.  Initially, Deb appeared to respond to little.

Marcia was introduced to Deb and began her partnership by looking at Deb’s medical records.  She asked that Deb’s room be cleaned, brought her a new television, and set up a shelf for family pictures. Marcia recruited a friend to help her find a communication device and advocates for its daily use with the nursing home staff.  Deb now has the ability to answer yes and no questions.  Marcia also focused on getting in touch with Deb’s extended family and her mother and children whom she hadn’t seen in years.

Marcia advocated for a swallowing study and now Deb is able to eat some of her favorite foods by mouth.  Marcia sees Deb at least once a week. She attends doctor appointments and makes arrangements for Deb to get out of the nursing home to occasionally go to a concert or play.

Tami and Vicki

For the first third of Tami’s life, she led a typical, if not privileged life. She married her childhood sweetheart who became a doctor, and their union resulted in an affluent lifestyle and the birth of two children. Tami grew up in a small western Nebraska town where her parents, siblings, and other relatives were all involved and lived nearby.

Tami experienced her first mental illness episode when her children were very young, and her life changed immediately. Her husband filed for divorce and Tami was hospitalized. The children remained living with their father until he died and then Tami’s sister gained custody and raised them to adulthood. The supportive extended family all but disappeared and Tami ended up living in a series of run-down assisted living facilities in and around the North Platte area.

For Tami, reconciliation with her children was her top priority, yet frequent attempts to connect with them were unsuccessful.  When Vicki entered her life, Tami had someone to help her think about ways to establish contact with her children and her sister, and efforts began to pay off.  With Vicki’s help and encouragement, Tami successfully initiated contact with her children.

(Thank you to Citizen Advocacy offices in Nebraska for sharing advocate stories.)