A 62-year-old Great Bend native recently moved back to her hometown from Kansas City where she found herself “drinking every day,” and living with disabilities that kept her from keeping a steady job.
“I was a mess,” said the woman, who wants to remain anonymous. “I had worked all my life but then COVID hit. This led to other serious health problems and the store where I worked closed.
“I couldn’t get disability and had to take early retirement. I had tried six other jobs but was unsuccessful because of my disabilities. I wanted to come home. I was sick of city life and didn’t have family nearby.”
But she did have family here. The woman moved back to Great Bend and lived with relatives for a few months.
“I cannot tell you how much I appreciate their help,” she commented.
During that time with family, she was referred to The Center for Counseling & Consultation, 5815 Broadway. This was the beginning of a new life and moving into a new home, she said.
“If it hadn’t been for The Center, I would have started drinking again,” she said. “God had a lot to do with this – lots of prayers.”
One of her first stops at The Center resulted in medical-assisted treatment for bipolar disorder, which “stabilized me. I also started seeing a therapist and met Kirstin, the housing specialist. Thanks to her, I now have an awesome apartment of my own.
“It really helps to have someone on your side – like a cheerleader. I wouldn’t have known where to start looking for a home and didn’t know I qualified for HUD assistance.”
Housing & Urban Development offers help for lower-income individuals.
Kirstin Williams, The Center’s housing specialist, worked with the woman for several months.
“The first thing she mentioned was the importance of finding her own home and being independent,” Williams recalled. “She genuinely appreciates her family’s help but needed a place to call her own.
“Everyone deserves a clean, safe place to live,” she continued. “It is difficult to know about all the resources in our community unless you work with an agency such as The Center.”
Williams and the woman met weekly and the process to find a home “went fairly quickly because she had all of her paperwork in order.”
In most cases, this is a lengthy process that can take at least eight months. Because of this, “people can become discouraged. But we try to help them through the waiting phase too. We listen, and then provide support and guidance,” Williams noted.
While housing is her main focus, Williams also provides some case-management services. She is currently helping about 10 people with housing issues.
Williams is SOAR certified; the acronym stands for SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access and Recovery.
The Center hired her as a housing specialist in preparation for offering a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic. A CCBHC is a multi-dimensional program that cares for the whole person.
“We can zero in on what any particular person needs,” Williams said. “Sometimes, it really does take a village.”
The Center for Counseling & Consultation is a Community Mental Health Center serving Barton, Pawnee, Rice and Stafford counties. Professionally trained personnel offer: individual and group therapy; marriage and family counseling; community-support services; community-based services; psychosocial rehabilitation; peer support; and medication management. The confidential 24/7 crisis hotline number is 800-875-2544.