David can personally attest to what an impact PRC has on the lives of those who really need the help.
“I will never forget how PRC helped me during some of my darkest days. They supported me, and it fundamentally changed my life for the better. How, you may ask?
It was January 2000. I was reclaiming my health after nearly succumbing to AIDS. I was beginning to believe I had a future but I wasn’t sure how to proceed. Since I had gone on disability six years earlier in 1994, the world had changed dramatically.
I had been getting help from several local organizations with food, rent, and emotional support. But now I needed help planning the next chapter of my life. Sharing my fear with a friend, he told me about Positive Resource Center, the forerunner to PRC. I had my doubts but I made an appointment anyway.
I still recall that first visit. I walked through the door overwhelmed with fear about what my future might look like: the path I was embarking on, if my body could take it, if I would lose my disability income. I worried about my stamina and my ability to get hired with grey hair and a gap of six years in my work history. I’m sure you can relate that I was also simply embarrassed asking for help.
All those fears were immediately allayed. I was warmly welcomed, and within short-order, I was confident and hopeful for a brighter future. I knew I had a partner and an advocate to support me through my journey.
PRC was a one-stop-shop for services and guidance. Beyond all the emotional support, they provided me with counseling and assessments to determine my goals and priorities, and we discussed what types of work and companies aligned with these. They helped me update my job skills and plan for schooling. Then it was interview training, interview clothes, resume writing, and even help with making business contacts.
It was not easy. During my six years on disability, my engagement with the world had gotten small and my activities limited. The energy needed to develop a path forward was challenging physically, mentally, and emotionally. Though I retained my Social Security Disability Insurance and Medicare, I lost my long-term care income and needed to seek out additional roommates and financial assistance to get by.
Fear and doubt consumed me but I kept on. I had to. I was afraid I would otherwise become homeless. PRC was committed in their support, and so I worked to keep fear at bay, to focus on the path forward, and to believe in myself. I expanded my technical and language skills. I adjusted my diet and sleep habits. I reestablished past work connections. It was a 24/7 focus, and PRC was there though it all, cheering me on and providing additional resources as I needed them.
During the winter holidays of 2001, with the confidence gained over 20 months, I put fear and frustration aside. I put on my new suit and shoes. I donned a homemade sandwich board with my resume blown-up and a ‘Got-Job?’ talk bubble cut-out attached. I put resumes in green envelopes affixed with candy canes and went downtown to hand them out and wish those passing by a Happy Holidays. I was taking a break from the fear and anxiety. I was not going to let fear rule my life.
Though I didn’t get any job offers that day, I did receive a lot of compliments on my attitude. I felt proud of myself for getting out there. In the end, it was not my skills alone that landed me my re-entry job. It was the sandwich board story and my attitude, as well as skills old and new and connections made through PRC. Finally, in September 2002, I was offered a contract job, the next step in my journey toward work force re-entry and my goal of a full-time position with benefits.
The first six months of adjusting to a Monday to Friday workweek, the commute, and interactions with so many people outside my small bubble were overwhelming. I did everything I could to manage my physical and mental exhaustion while working hard to be a valued contributor. Every week it got a little more manageable. And with my doctor monitoring my health, I was succeeding at re-entry into the work force!
In the beginning, I was terrified of the expectations and felt handicapped by the gap in my knowledge, social skills, and work skills. Imagine going from grade school to graduate school. That’s what it felt like. But I was not alone. I had my support network, my doctor, my friends, and the staff at PRC checking in to see how I was doing. I worked hard to make up those six years. I listened, learned, and grew in so many ways.
In July 2003, ten months after starting my contract gig, still networking and still focused on my goal, I was hired as a full-time employee with benefits by a company that aligned with my personal values and supported my goals. I have been there ever since.
Eighteen years later, with my health stable and retirement just three years away, I continue to feel so incredibly fortunate. I survived and thrived. These experiences changed me, I believe for the better. I enjoy the work I do. I no longer struggle financially.
I have PRC to thank for this, and all of PRC’s supporters for making this work possible with their support.
I feel grateful that I’m at a point in my life where I can return the support I received by donating annually to PRC. I’ve also included PRC in my legacy plans. In these ways, I can give back to those who have given me so much, while playing it forward to help others like me.
I will always remember PRC for partnering with me on my journey to return to work, supporting me in getting to where I am today, and helped me forge a future bright with possibilities. I am thankful and feel it as my duty to live my life fully, for myself and as a tribute to those I have lost who did not have the opportunity to do so. Thank you.”
If you feel inspired by David’s story, we ask that you join in supporting PRC by making a donation today.