Michelle’s Story

November 21st, 2017


When they first began to talk about her, she was visibly overwhelmed. Her cheeks flushed crimson as she covered her face with her hands, momentarily uncomfortable in the spotlight.

But then, a giggle escaped. Another quickly followed.

Soon, any signs of shyness evaporated and in its’ place was another, more powerful emotion – joy.  A joy so effervescent it seemed to vibrate from her every move.

She shook as she rose from her seat at the table, giggles escaping as her eyes danced.

Michelle may have been nervous in front of the crowd, but those nerves were no match for excitement and pride.

This night, she got the chance to stand next to her “big boss,” Waterloo Mayor Tom Smith.

Smith presented Human Support Services with a check for the work Michelle and her fellow day services clients had done to help the city.

For Michelle, it wasn’t about the giant cardboard check. The heart-swelling pride so visible in her excited giggle and beaming smile had little to do with the money she made.

For her, this was about more than just a job.

It was about HER job.

She had spent the summer beautifying the streets of downtown Waterloo, and this fall, she helped run a pumpkin painting booth at a festival.

She had an important job in HER community. Her big boss was telling everyone that she did her job well. It mattered. She mattered.

The partnership between HSS and the city gave Michelle more than a job to do – it gave her a sense of pride, purpose, and more than a little joy.

We are able to give her these inspiring gifts of pride and new beginnings because of YOU – our donors.

Help Human Support Services develop more valuable partnerships and programs so that we can continue to change lives – one story at a time.

Invest in the future of our community by contributing to our annual holiday appeal today.


James’ Story

November 21st, 2017


There’s a framed picture of his mom on the wall, and James is quick to point it out to guests.

Beaming with pride, he’ll show you the television, the gaming system and the view from the windows in his upstairs bedroom.  Then on the way out, he’ll mention the picture of his mom.

The house has all the amenities – a lovely yard, spacious, comfortably-furnished rooms, and even a deck. But those perks of real estate aren’t on the official “James tour” of the house.

The photograph of his mom, though, that’s a key part of the tour.

Because for James, that picture is an integral part of what makes this charming two-story house a home – his home.

Having a place to call home matters to everyone, but it may mean even more to James.

For him, having a home also means having independence, opportunities to be a part of the community and a sense of family.

And in this house on a quiet residential street, he’s found all three.

James shares this residential Human Support Services home with two other Human Support Services clients and caregivers.

Together, James and his roommates share meals, household responsibilities, and lives as independent as possible.

They’re a family, as loving and unique as any other.

JamesThough James’ mom passed away shortly before he moved into this HSS house, he knows she would have been proud of his new home and this exciting new chapter in his life.

James’ sister Angela, who lives nearby, agrees.

“It gives me great peace of mind to know he is in an environment where staff goes above and beyond to learn how to help him live a full and useful life. I can tell he is made to feel needed and that he is contributing to the community,” she said.

We are able to provide comfortable homes and opportunities for independence because of YOU – our donors.

There are many more individuals like James, looking for opportunities to live, work and thrive in our community.

Join us in helping find a sense of home. Invest in our local community and donate to the Human Support Services annual holiday appeal today.


Mickey’s Story

November 21st, 2017


He’s no longer a young man, but when Mickey smiles, his eyes twinkle with the pure, unadulterated joy of youth.

There’s a light inside Mickey, the kind you can see without ever having to hear him speak a single word.

Mickey, 63, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a child and is deaf. He communicates through sign language, the written word and some speech.

While he may not say much directly to most people, Mickey has the very rare and enviable gift of making those around him feel happier, just by being who he is.

Every day, when Mickey arrives at the Human Support Services workshop, he shows up with that contagious smile and an enthusiastic wave.

“He’s usually happy,” said his mom, Reita. “Every morning, he greets me with a smile and ‘good morning.’”

Mickey, who has been working in the day services program at HSS since 1992, lives with his parents, Reita and Orville.

Mickey loves his job with HSS, Reita says. Every day, he gets up in the morning, makes his bed and prepares his breakfast and his lunch at home before boarding the bus to HSS.

When Mickey gets home in the afternoon, he handles a few chores around the house, including mowing the yard, sweeping the floor and taking out the garbage.

“HSS gives him a place to work that we feel comfortable with,” Reita said. “He is making money which is important to him, and he’s gotten into the Special Olympics. HSS has just been wonderful to him. We don’t worry about him when he’s gone. They provide the transportation and without that he wouldn’t be able to work so much.”

Mickey is proud of his job and likes to earn money so he can buy food and gifts for his friends and family. His favorite days are when he gets to do janitorial work because he earns the most money, Reita says.

“I can’t imagine what would have happened with Mickey if he didn’t have HSS,” Reita said. “He doesn’t like having to miss work. If we go on vacation he’s anxious to get back so he can get back to work.”

In his spare time, Mickey loves making projects with his wood-burning tool. He gives his finished designs as gifts, and has even won awards at the Monroe County Fair. He also enjoys watching football, baseball and basketball with his dad.

For Mickey, HSS provides a job he loves, and a sense of purpose.

This year, HSS workshop clients worked more than 39,000 hours on projects for area businesses. Partnerships like these give our clients safe, supervised on-site jobs, while giving local businesses an affordable, dependable workforce.

Join us in building more partnerships like these to make our community stronger. Your contribution to the Human Support Services annual holiday appeal will make a difference to individuals and families right here in Monroe County.


Morgan’s Story

November 21st, 2017


When the door opened, her eyes nervously scanned the counselor’s office. At 10, she was already cautious and skeptical of strangers.

Satisfied that her surroundings were safe, Morgan quietly slipped into a chair without a word. She fixed her gaze on her tennis shoes and the dirty hem of her jeans.

Her silence added plenty to what counselors already knew.

Morgan’s family life had been troubled and unstable. She had moved from home to home, and had been passed from one foster family to the next for most of her young life.

She was shy, and the look on her face made it clear she had no interest in talking about her family, her life or her fears for the future. Not today – maybe not ever.

Adults in her life thus far had disappointed her, and she wasn’t about to open up to another one.

Morgan fiddled with her ponytail, trying in vain to tuck away some of the wild brown hairs slipping out of the band.

She shuffled in her seat, growing more uneasy as the moments passed in silence.

Then the counselor did something unexpected.

The counselor stood up and pulled a baseball from a duffle bag under her desk. She held it out and gestured toward Morgan.

Morgan’s expression swung from surprise to delight and back to skepticism before she settled on a small shy smile.

With an encouraging nod from the counselor, Morgan stood up slowly, not entirely convinced this wasn’t some kind of trick.

She gingerly opened her hands. When the counselor gently tossed the ball to her, she caught it, squeezing it tightly in her small hands.

For a moment, they locked eyes and shared a smile.

Soon, they were tossing the ball back and forth with ease. Morgan began to relax. Before she knew it, the session was over.

That session was nearly a decade ago.

Morgan has been seeing her Human Support Services counselor ever since.

The trust slowly forged between that shy young girl and her counselor became so significant that at some points in Morgan’s life, it has been the only consistent adult relationship she has had.

Over the years, the HSS counselor helped Morgan through crises in her home life and stood by her as she navigated all the issues teenage girls face every day.

Morgan went on to excel in school, and in the words of her counselor, has blossomed into a kind and considerate young woman.

Those who knew that shy tomboy would scarcely recognize the polished, well-spoken college freshman.

“I was with her for a very long time,” her counselor said. “She knew she could come in here and talk to me.  She could have gone down so many other paths, but she is going to do wonderful in her life.”

Your generosity allows HSS to give outpatient counseling clients like Morgan a chance at a happier, brighter future. There are many other men, women, youth and families in our communities who need our help to find a renewed sense of wellness and hope for the future.

Join us in investing in our future, and help us build a better, stronger community – one story at a time. Please donate to the Human Support Services annual holiday appeal.

*Note:  Some details have been altered to protect the identity of real clients.


Alex’s Story

November 21st, 2017


Real men aren’t supposed to be bothered by silly things like nightmares.

Men of his father’s generation certainly didn’t let “feelings” get in the way of responsibilities like work and family.

And yet, here he was.

The nightmares were relentless, torturing his sleep.

The days weren’t any better, though, because memories of the trauma haunted his waking hours.

Alex tried pretending it had never happened. In the two years since it occurred, he had gotten pretty good at “acting” like everything was fine.

But then the guilt, shame and fear, started eating away at him. As time passed, it got harder – not easier – to pretend everything was fine.

He felt angry. In truth, he felt angry a lot.

There were more and more days when he didn’t want to get out of bed.

It wasn’t long before it was just easier to have a drink or two to forget about it. That helped for a while.

But then he needed more drinks to keep the thoughts at bay.

The more he drank, the worse he felt. The worse he felt, the more he drank.

His wife didn’t understand why he called into work so much. Why couldn’t he get up and help more around the house? Why couldn’t he just get over it?

Even his kids seemed disappointed in him most of the time.

Their disappointment only made him feel worse about himself. Those feelings turned into more anger.

He couldn’t get out of bed most days and stopped caring whether or not he lost his job, his wife or his kids.

By the time Alex started counseling at Human Support Services, he had given up hope. He was doubtful that there was anything or anyone that could pull him from this dark hole he’d been living in for so long.

Today, Alex has hope.

He is midway through treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. His counselors say he has been making great strides.

Alex conquered the biggest part of the program – facing, identifying and telling the story of his trauma.

Since then, he has been working to repair his family relationships and has been slowly putting his life back together. He has identified what his triggers are, and is working on ways to navigate around them and manage his reactions.

He doesn’t call in to work as often, and is able to see how PTSD was impacting his life.

For Alex, working through the counseling program and PTSD curriculum at HSS has given him hope and allowed him to see light at the end of the tunnel.

There are others out there like Alex who feel lost in the darkness. Through no fault of their own, they struggle with mental illness or trauma. They need help finding their way back into the light, and you can help.

Join Human Support Services in our efforts to ensure that every individual who comes through our doors for mental or behavioral health services is given the very best guidance and tools for recovery and relief.

You can help build better lives – one story at a time.

Contribute to our annual holiday appeal today – change a life tomorrow.