For Mateo, a 24-year old living with OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder), a part-time job at Stop & Shop means far more than a paycheck. Instead, it represents the outcome of hard work and persistence, and overcoming fears and anxiety that can feel oppressive.
Mateo currently resides at Depot Road in West Harwich, Massachusetts, a group living program of Fellowship Health Resources (FHR). This program works with the transitional aged youth population living with severe and persistent mental illness on Cape Cod. Assisting individuals in developing the skills needed to live on their own, FHR’s Depot Road provides crisis and medical assistance, as well as groups for social skill development and educational and vocational opportunities.
“A year ago, Mateo didn’t have much interest in wanting to work,” said Maria Fairclough, Depot Road Program Director. “One of the things we really worked on was how he could actively participate in the community.”
Although at first hesitant, Mateo began working closely with FHR Employment Specialist Ken Ryan. Mateo created a resume, and showed interest in volunteer work. With staff support, he started volunteering two times a week at the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History.
“At the outset, he was nervous and very apprehensive, but wanted to give it a shot. For a lot of people in recovery, a transitional period can be extremely challenging,” Ryan said.
With the experience of volunteering for several months, Mateo felt confident enough to begin looking for a part-time job. Working with other individuals and staff at Depot Road, Mateo participated in groups that would help him develop skills for the workplace.
After an interview, he landed a job at Stop & Shop.
Mateo shares that he believes Depot Road has helped put him in the right direction, and hopes he can help others in the program, and be a good example. “I’ve learned to take care of my responsibilities and never give up,” he says.
“Since first coming to Depot Road, he has progressed to a point where he has reached a newfound level of independence,” added Fairclough. “He is now comfortable with taking the bus himself, which is a huge accomplishment in Mateo leading an independent life.”
“To get to this point I had to work hard,” Mateo shared. “Since I started working at Stop & Shop, I feel more grown up. I am proud and feel accomplished.”