Carriage House Gains Support From Local Organizations

Published 07/21 2014 10:55AM

Updated 07/21 2014 11:49AM

The Carriage House is changing lives in the Summit City and gaining national recognition.  Now members of the Fort Wayne community are giving back to this organization.

"In 1997, a young man named Justin Blessing had schizophrenia and was walking the streets in Fort Wayne," said Andy Wilson, Executive Director of the Carriage House. "He was hit by a car and died, unfortunately. That event spurred the local NAMI group, National Alliance on Mental Illness, to get very passionate about trying to find a better way to provide services to their loved one."

One year late in 1998, the Carriage House was established.

Wilson says it's their non-traditional methods that separates them from all other rehabilitation centers for people struggling with mental illnesses.

"Generally, what we do is work side by side. For two reasons- one, because at the end of the day, it's better to have meaning, and purpose, and hope. Those things we find are really important in terms of people recovering their humanity. Also, it's a way we get to know each other. We don't know each other because I've poured through somebody's medical record; we know each other because we've worked together. That allows us to create a community. A community of real relationships... and those relationships we find to be therapeutic."

Wilson says this non-traditional way of helping people get back on their feet, has been extremely effective.

"Currently, we have 80 people working in the community, we've got 18 people in higher education right now, lots of people getting their lives back."

The carriage house was recently featured in USA TODAY in an article that highlighted one Fort Wayne man's journey through the Carriage House's employment program.

With the help of a matching grant from Parkview Hospital, this Thursday, the Carriage House will be given a donation of more than $23,000 from the organization '100+ Women Who Care Fort Wayne'.

"We are humbled and honored, and excited. We've been struggling with finances," said Wilson. "We had some issues at the state level in terms of reimbursement a couple years ago, so every penny counts and every penny matters."

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