Brandon’s outlook on life is upbeat and positive. His smile is wide. He works at a job he loves and has his own apartment. He is also an active member in his church. “There is a lot I thank God for every day. I am in a good place right now. I have a good support system.”
Brandon’s life hasn’t always been this stable. When he was in his early 20s, he experienced a series of setbacks and difficulties. Living with his father in Charlotte, NC, Brandon began spending too much time and money in night clubs. He was also smoking and drinking. Eventually, his father asked him to move out.
Brandon was homeless for two years. “For a time,” he said, “I lived on the street in Charlotte. Then I went to visit a friend from high school who lived in Spartanburg, SC and I slept in the backseat of her car.” After a falling out with his friend, she threw all of his belongings out of the car. Brandon had nowhere to go.
Carrying all his possessions, Brandon went looking for a bus station so he could return to the Trenton area, where he grew up. “I was angry at the world. I was mad at my dad. I needed help,” he said. He remembers an older woman drove him to the Greyhound station. From there, he called his grandmother and she helped him with the fare and offered him a place to stay.
A Second Chance at Life
“When I got back, my mother and brother called around looking for services and they found Catholic Charities,” he said. “Partners in Recovery is one of the best programs that ever happened to me.” The program assists individuals who suffer with more severe and persistent psychiatric and co-occurring disorders and helps them reach an optimal level of functioning in the community.
Wilson Bagely was a Mental Health Peer Advocate at the time. He remembers Brandon’s early days in the program. “Brandon was a unique client. He had some anger issues, and it took him some time to adjust. But he did not give up. He has come a long way.”
Through the program, Brandon received counseling and help managing his mental health. He also received supported employment services and help finding a job. For the past six years, he has been working for a janitorial company. “I love what I do,” he said. “People have no idea how hard we work. We vacuum the carpets, clean the restrooms, dust, empty the trash and buff the floors. It’s a lot.”
Today, Bagely is the Medication Assisted Treatment Coordinator. He recently organized an alumni day for the participants in the Partners in Recovery Program. “Meeting a former client, hearing about their journey and seeing their success gives current clients a feeling like there is light at the end of the tunnel.” Brandon was one of the alumni Bagely invited back to share his story. “He shared and helped the clients understand what it was he needed to do for himself. I am really proud of Brandon. His encouragement will make a difference in someone else’s journey.”
FOR INFORMATION on the Partners in Recovery Program, call (609) 396–4557. For information about all of Catholic Charities’ mental health services, visit this page: https://www.catholiccharitiestrenton.org/services/mental-health/
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