LAWRENCE — Chief Executive Officer Carina Pappalardo is pleased to share that The Psychological Center has been providing life-changing programming for the homeless, mentally ill and those with substance misuse disorders for more than 50 years.
And as the non-profit that operates the Daybreak Shelter, Pegasus House, and Women’s View programs recognizes the passing of its 50th anniversary, the need for such services is at an all-time high.
The Eagle-Tribune reported earlier this year that approximately 750 patients were awaiting beds in psychiatric facilities across the state, a high number even amid a years-long shortage of such beds.
The need remains despite The Psychological Center’s work to support thousands of individuals over 50 years, including those like Nicole Roberge, who will graduate from the Women’s View program in July, and those like Victor Otero, a 39-year-old Lawrence man who lost his housing in December despite having a full-time job that he continues to work at today.
Staff at Daybreak Shelter have helped Otero get Mass Health, food stamps, and an ID and birth certificate, and connected him with other programs to help him rebuild his life, while also helping him open up. Otero now occasionally helps cook meals for others at Daybreak Shelter as a way of giving back to those who have helped him.
“I was very much in a shell when I became homeless, but they’ve opened me up a little bit and made me feel comfortable,” Otero said. “I’ve met so many nice people there, both residents and staff. Most of them are just people who need a little bit of help.”
“We on the staff at Pegasus House, Women’s View, and the Daybreak Shelter are all so grateful to the supporters who have enabled us to do this critical and life-saving work over the years,” said Pappalardo. “Outcomes for those who face substance misuse disorder, mental illness and homelessness are more effective when the entire community works to provide support, and I want to extend our sincere thanks to those who support our work.”
Earlier this year, the Psychological Center was generously supported by Pentucket Bank, which provided a $5,000 donation; Enterprise Bank, which provided a $5,000 donation; and Merrimack Valley Federal Credit Union, which provided a $2,500 donation.
Pegasus House is a Residential Treatment and Recovery Services program for young women ages 18 to 25. It was established in 1985 to provide comprehensive treatment for substance misuse disorder. The length of stay is based on individual need.
The Pegasus House focuses on providing a structured environment that supports residents and encourages development of healthy living habits, mastery of daily living skills, employment skills, social skills, and maintaining healthy relationships with friends and family.
Pegasus House is committed to using trauma-informed care to assist individuals with co-occurring mental health disorders, while providing individual and group counseling that touches on topics such as relapse prevention, recovery maintenance, effective communication and boundaries, anger management, positive coping skills , mindfulness and self-esteem, nutrition, and other topics related to wellness.
“There was a lot of stability, structure and support, and that’s what I needed at the beginning of my journey,” said Caitlin, who graduated from Pegasus House in February 2022. “As time went on, I worked on getting relationships back with my family. I have a job now even though I wasn’t employable when I first got there. Pegasus House just helped me with a lot of basic life skills and things I needed to be successful.”
“I really can’t say enough about that house,” Caitlin said. “It really saved my life.”
“I was hopeless, powerless and my life was unmanageable,” said Mary, who graduated from Pegasus House in February 2021. “There is no way I’d have a life today without Pegasus House.”
Mary said Program Director Donna Kivlin, as well as other women who were part of the program, were a key to convincing her that recovery was worth the effort, and worth sticking with. She said the program also meticulously prepared her for the day when she left the program, providing connections to resources outside, and keeping in touch even today, when she has been out of the program for more than a year.
“I needed a solution, and that’s what they gave me,” Mary said.
For more information on Pegasus House, click here.
Women’s View is a residential program for females 25 and older who suffer from substance misuse disorders. The program provides a stable, nurturing structure for women to learn how to balance life issues with the added stressors of maintaining sobriety.
The program at Women’s View is structured to prepare clients for the next phase of their lives and re-integrating themselves into the community. Residents learn life skills, coping skills, develop a superb network, and connect with medical professionals. Staff are on hand 24/7 to provide support, individual case-management, therapy and psychiatric referrals among other services. The program encourages self-sufficiency and accountability, helping with health and education issues as well as the simple teaching of cooking and food prep.
Nicole Roberge, who is expected to graduate from Women’s View in July, said the program has been challenging, but exactly what she needed to save her life.
“This is the longest I’ve been in sobriety for years and years,” she said. “The structure that they have here and the things that they work with you on are life-changing, and it really makes you work hard for your recovery.”
For more information on Women’s View, click here.
The primary program components of Daybreak Shelter are triage, engagement, substance misuse stabilization services, outreach and assessment, referral, educational services, and emergency shelter services. All program components are delivered with competencies in culture, language, gender, disabilities, sexual orientation, and age.
One resident, Victor, a 37-year-old from Lawrence, has been staying at the shelter for over a month, but said that thanks to the assistance of shelter staff he has connected with housing programs, and is now waiting on word about an application that could help him obtain housing again.
“I was staying with my brother, but his house burned down, and the Daybreak Shelter was kind enough to take me in and help me out with a lot of things, from shelter and food, to programming as well,” Victor said. “It was a very scary process, and I honestly couldn’t even tell you where I’d be without them.”
Janique James became homeless shortly after moving to Massachusetts about eight years ago, and spent about three weeks staying at the shelter. James said workers at Daybreak Shelter were incredibly kind to her, and helped her to get back on her feet from her, offering her clothing, and even help with job applications.
Now that James is employed and able to fully support herself, she occasionally returns to the shelter to visit and makes contributions to help staff assist others who are where she was once was.
“They gave me food, a place to bathe and a place to stay,” James said. “I’m very grateful for the help they gave me.”
For more information on Daybreak Shelter, click here.